Dos and Don'ts of USMLE Step 1 Success

Dr. Muhammad Shah

Dr. Muhammad Shah

The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1, success on this examination requires both content competency and effective study plan for study and review. Yes, this exam is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be as painful as you think it may be. Remember that every doctor that you know has taken the exam and has survived it; most likely you will too. 

Students use a broad variety of methods in studying for this examination, with mostly trusting on personal study habits and guidance from other students. Medical education is evaluated at every level by board examinations; each exam demands serious preparation for getting a high score. Medical students work very hard for months to achieve the desired score. This entire process can take somewhere 5 months to 9 months of preparation. 

During the process of preparation student's build uncertainty which generates anxiety. When we are uncertain anxiety comes naturally. Many of students overcome with strictly following the study plan, by doing many exam-style practice questions. Confidence is not part of personality; it comes with practice. If you want to be confident, you must practice questions regularly.


Create a strategy to keep yourself on track:

Plan your exam date, know when will you take the actual exam and when you will be taking the NBME exams. Create long term and short term goals. Create a study plan that works best for you. Some days you will perform beyond your expectations, and someday you will be disappointed. These ups and downs will be part of the process. I have never seen success without a painful past. Your task you to reach the target score and you can achieve this by working on your weak areas. Focus on building general knowledge and using smart study strategies to boost your confidence.

How many hours should I study?

I would suggest spending 8 to 10 hours every day. If you study more then 10 hours, you won't be able to retain much, and it will be just a good waste of time. Have a one day off every week. Studying for step 1 is like running a marathon you have to pace yourself. 

Do not use too many resources: 

There are many different resources for step 1 preparation. One of the most significant risks of using too many resources is that you won't be able to understand the concepts and you won't be able to repeat all resources. This exam requires mastery on content which comes with repetition. Don’t worry if your friend is using sketchymicro and you’re using the FirstAid or Kaplan book. You should use the resources that work best for you.

Dr. Muhammad Shah