Pro Tips for Acing USMLE Step 1

Acing USMLE Step 1


If you have decided to become a doctor, you would already be familiar with the term USMLE and all the steps and would know how important acing USMLE Step 1 is. The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is your ticket to a licensure in the US. This exam is further divided into three main steps: you take your Step 1 & 2 before applying for residency, and the Step 3 afterward, in the first year. Some people go for it in the second year of their residency too.

Needless to say that you need to perform exceptionally well in all the three steps of USMLE for better residency placement options. What bogs down people is not the lack of knowledge, but the abundance of it, and so, they want someone to guide them how to make it in one go.

But before that, we need to know the first step of USMLE.

Acing USMLE Step 1

What Is The USMLE Step 1?

The first step of USMLE is comprised of seven 60-minutes segments, and it totals up to 8 hours of sitting in the exam centers. You get 40 questions in each segment, but the nature of these questions can be different based on your knowledge about medical foundations.

How to prepare for these questions if they are variables? Basic understanding about the etiologic principles, mechanisms of diseases and their respective treatment methods are some of the topics you will find in the Step 1. Some questions can also be a bit different physician competencies.

Here is a 5-part pro tip guide to acing USMLE Step 1:

TIP 1: Early bird gets the worm

They had a point when the coined the phrase: early birds do get it, if they commit to a study plan as soon as possible. Starting early may seem a little overthinking, but if you have a long term goal, you will be smart about it.

It’s a two-way strategy: perform well in classes, and be prepared fro the USMLE Step 1 exams. Finding a mock test site online is not a problem. You can find dozens on any search engine. Utlizing as many as possible as soon as the medical school starts is your way to acing it all.

Some of these practice websites will not be free of cost, but spending a little extra cash will go a long way for anyone looking forward to acing USMLE step 1.

TIP 2: Figuring out the challenges

While a small percentage of the students who do well on the USMLE Step 1 are gifted with prodigious memories, the vast majority simply learn by identifying weaknesses and knowledge gaps and then reviewing the concepts until they become fixed in their long-term memory.

Most of the online systems allow students to flag challenging questions. Students who outperform their peers repeatedly intimated that not only did they study new questions daily, they regularly repeated questions they missed.

TIP 3: Time Management

how to ace usmle step 1

In the end, it all boils down to how you manage the time allotted to your studies and classes. Thinking that you can do wonders just by preparing for a month or so before the exam is self-deceit. And no, only brilliant students are not the ones acing it all the way. Your strategies and efforts can be your ticket to making it big, with high grades.

Utilizing breaks in December-January or starting at least six months before the exams can do wonders. The trick is to stick to the routine at all costs, and be sincere in your efforts.

TIP 4: Question Attempting Tips

Do you know that if you keep a certain portion of your USMLE exam time for high-yielding questions, you end up performing better overall? You may find some questions more technical than the rest, but they can be the most high-grade giving, so keep some time for brainstorming on those.

Other questions should look familiar; most of them are from the fields of anatomy, neuroanatomy, histology, embryology, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, microbiology, and pharmacology.

Even when you are preparing for the USMLE Step 1, keep time for attempting high-yeild questions on the practice sites. Practicing every day is another way of getting good grades.

TIP 5: Set a Goal

You can easily demarcate your study timetable based on the calendar days. You have 30 days on average, and keeping a deadline to get to the score you want in your Step1 before appearing in the exam can help you understand your position. Deadlines can also help you sort your priority work first, so there is time for additional practice and other medical school work. However, it might be difficult to plan a deadline schedule without an end result. You should not just be laboring all for nothing; you need a game plan.

One goal common with any student of any field is getting the highest score. You can utilize this goal to be motivated and disciplined. However, be sure that this goal demands sacrifices. You have to minimize your social interactions. It basically means no hangouts with friends for almost six months, but it does not mean that you should give up on your social life altogether. Also, it is always a smart move to take care of your health by eating good food and exercising.

Conclusion – Acing USMLE Step 1

USMLE Step 1 is in many ways a big step to getting one phase closer to attaining your medical dreams. Gambling with the first ever chance to prove it all to yourself is never a good idea, so it is better to be smart about the way you prepare for it and the books you choose for the purpose. With a little effort and smart work, you can achieve your goals no matter the situation.

Good luck!


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