With your Boards on the horizon, you want to take every step you can to prepare yourself to excel. Conventional wisdom still applies—get some sleep and eat well in the days leading up to your exam, just like back in high school. However, this exam is unlikeany other, so you will need a superior strategy if you plan to turn in a superior performance. Your most important preparation step is to practice early and often with a step 1 practice exam. Because you need to acquire a staggering amount of information, cramming is no longer an option—instead schedule regular time for study over a longer period of time. In addition, create as many memory pathways as possible for improved recall under pressure. A qualified tutor can seal the deal on improving your score.
The most proven way to boost scores on any test is to take practice tests early and often. Schedule regular practice tests, and prepare for them just as you would the real deal. This helps in several ways including reducing test anxiety and keeping your study schedule on track. As soon as you’ve completed your USMLE step 1 sign up, begin your step 1 practice exam schedule, and stick to it.
Ideally, you’ve learned everything you need to know to pass the Boards through your regular coursework, but considering your pressing schedule and the sheer volume of data, you will likely need extensive, concentrated study. Don’t wait until the last few days or weeks to begin. Schedule non-negotiable study times, and treat them as you would a job. Give your study your full time and attention. Show up on time and work hard.
Create numerous memory pathways for the same information. Some examples are to read the new information then write it. Read what you’ve written aloud to yourself. Make up a question and answer study guide. Cover up first the answers, then the questions to see how much detail you recall. Use your step 1 practice exam as an opportunity to improve your memory work. Apply the information by explaining each concept to different people. Each of these exercises will make a new memory pathway, and the more you create, the more you can draw on when the real exam day arrives.
Finally, a qualified tutor is worth every penny and every minute you spend. Look for tutors who share their students’ average score increase. This hard data tells you what kind of value you can expect from your tutor.
By following this four-point plan, you can improve your chances of USMLE success. Remember to plan your strategy, follow it, and enjoy all your hard work when you do your best on the Boards.