5 Biggest Mistakes Students Make While Studying for USMLE Step 1

Studying for the USMLE Step 1 exam can be daunting. There’s a lot to know, understand and memorize. So, there’s always a penchant for students to make mistakes. But don’t worry, mistakes happen. Luckily, we’re here to outline some of those mistakes and help you choose the right path.

Know that there’s no perfect path or magic formula for studying for this exam. Different styles work for different people. So, let’s break down what not to do for these tests.

Let’s get to it!

1.  Using another person’s studying style verbatim

So, there’s nothing wrong with using another person for inspiration for your reading style, but trying to copy them without tweaking them to what works for you may be bad.

For example, take a student who does well in test reads by waking up by 4 am to make notes from the resources on CanadaQBank and read them. You see them and copy them without considering that you work at night and sometimes close later. So, waking up as early as 4 am may even be detrimental to your concentration. So, now you’re awake at 4 am, lack sleep, grump, and not making use of the right resources, you’ll end up with the short end of the stick.

Instead, you could look for times in the day when you’re well-rested and calm and use it to make notes and read them. Thus, it’s important to know yourself.

2.  Using too many resources

Information is power, but too much information can be dangerous for your exams.

For instance, numerous resources are available for the USMLE, such as flashcards and videos, on CanadaQBank. However, the abundance of options can trigger fear of missing out, which may result in bad behaviours such as rearranging a well-structured study schedule to accommodate a new resource and subsequently falling behind.

When it comes to content review and QBanks, it is better to thoroughly study a few top resources rather than skimming through many resources. Devoting agoradesign.it adequate time to a comprehensive review of only the upper limb is more beneficial than going through numerous additional resources superficially. Similarly, completing the CanadaQBank question bank judiciously is more advantageous than hastily reviewing two or more QBanks. Thus, it is recommended to create a plan using a fixed number of dependable resources and adhere to it. The watchword is to keep the plan simple.

3.  Not spending the right time reviewing explanations

While finding the ideal amount of time to spend reviewing each explanation can be a challenging task, it is crucial to strike a balance. Spending too little time can cause you to overlook crucial info while spending too much time can disrupt your study schedule. Every student’s ideal review time will vary, so it’s essential to discover how much time is required to conduct an efficient and effective review.

Students’ most common mistake is spending too much time during their dedicated study period. Although it may seem counterintuitive, many students devote ten or more minutes reviewing each explanation. That’s too long and could take up to 7 hours to check a 50-question block!

Once you have a solid foundation for questions where you immediately know the correct answer and why the other choices are wrong, quickly reviewing the explanation would leave more time for reviewing more demanding questions. This strategy allows you to search for new or challenging points to understand. If you’re still struggling to find the ideal review time, consider setting aside twice the time it takes you to complete the questions. For example, for a one-hour CanadaQBank practice question, spend roughly two hours reviewing the explanations.

4.  Not focusing on your weakness

Each student has a topic or subject that proves challenging to them, which is why students who achieve the highest scores are those who confront their weak points and comprehend them. Therefore, if you want to score well on the exam, you must overcome your shortcomings.

You can develop flashcards for the concepts that you struggle with. Then, you can review the flashcard deck regularly to become familiar with these concepts. For instance, if you’re bad at anatomy, you can focus on the anatomy questions on CanadaQBank rather than the subjects you’re better at.

5.  Not doing practice assessments

To perform well on the actual exam, it’s essential to stay composed and avoid any unexpected surprises. Full-length practice tests can help boost your confidence, acclimate you to the format, and assess the time required to complete each section.

Furthermore, these evaluations can provide a preliminary indication of the score you may get on the real exam. This feedback can help you determine if you’re ready to take the test or need to allocate more time for preparation. Therefore, to prepare adequately for the exam, take as many full-length practice tests as possible.

Also, students that tend to prioritize their studies over other aspects of their lives while pursuing their goals, often leading to burnout and a decrease in exam scores. To prevent such consequences, it is crucial to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

To avoid burnout during your USMLE Step 1 preparation, there are several things you can do. Firstly, decide on a time to stop studying for the day and plan a fun activity to do afterward. Secondly, take frequent breaks using techniques like the Pomodoro method. Additionally, prioritize a healthy diet and exercise regularly, and establish a fixed sleep schedule.


Mistakes such as not taking care of yourself, avoiding your weak areas, and using too many resources are among some of the biggest issues with students studying for their USMLE Step 1. Identifying your potential mistakes is the first step to getting a good score in your exams.

The best way to prepare for the USMLE Step 1 is to study hard and get plenty of practice questions. It is also important to stay calm and focused during the exam. If you have any questions or concerns, speak with your mentor or instructor, and take advantage of our QBank at CanadaQBank.