Do you want a 260 on USMLE Step 1?
Everyone has this sentiment whether you are starting your medical licensing board preparation or you are nearing completion of your dedicated time. The bottom line is that a 260 is not easy but it is not impossible. The honest truth is that every year the average USMLE score performance data continues to rise but the roadmap to scoring higher and higher has become foggy and confusing.
Almost everyday you have probably been inundated with new resources asserting their claim to get you your 260+ or to make your study strategy streamlined. But we would love to let you in on a special little secret. There is no one stop shop for how to succeed as a medical student, how to master medical education, or even how to get inside the minds of the board of medical examiners. The way to approach studying is to customize your plan.
We have simple recommendations that we will dive into greater detail on later in our posts.
The strongest recommendation that we have not only witnessed through our own success but through the success of our classmates and colleagues is the use of question banks. Utilizing questions to acclimate yourself to the united states medical licensing exam is paramount to your ability to handle situations on test day. Whether you use Kaplan, UWorld, or nbme parts exams, or other online question banks, never underestimate this step in your preparation. When the inevitable time comes where you walk into the test centers and sit down to take your exams, you need to know you are ready for the questions. The content will be there if you study right, but the questions are what makes or breaks test takers.
Besides using question banks we recommend you trust your instincts. People often get frustrated with these united states medical licensing examinations because they say it detracts away from true patient care or it has nothing to do with a physician’s true clinical skills. The honest truth is that these tests are necessary to help provide clarity to what you learned in your basic sciences so you can correlate it with your clinical practice. We recommend students to just dive into the tests, and commit to this simple principle, your only job is to know everything you can about as much as you can. Every year of medical school is meant to challenge you and educate you to become a competent physician. You have gotten this far using your natural given intellect so why stray away from that now.
So you are probably wondering what the heck do question banks and trusting your instincts have to do with me succeeding on step 1. The answer is the way you approach your studying and test taking makes the difference. Do not get overwhelmed. Do not let the stress consume you. Make sure you utilize a schedule and a healthy outlet. When you approach your question banks trust your test taking skills and your knowledge deficits will slowly close. The biggest advantage to succeeding is learning at the heart of each question what is being asked.
When I studied and my successful classmates studied we knew if we could figure out what each question wanted to teach us and what it was asking then we won half the battle. If it came down to us knowing the question but not knowing the answer we still viewed it as a victory because it is only a knowledge problem at that point. Your goal in your preparation is to know what the question is asking you. I can not stress that enough. Your sole goal in each question is to figure out what is being asked. The clinical vignette is designed to stump you or trick you but at the end of the vignette is a question with an answer and even on your worse day you can guess the correct answer so do not let this overwhelm you.
If you get to a point where you honestly cannot figure out what the clinical vignette is asking, then don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. There are numerous online tutors especially us at DaVinci Academy who primarily focus on helping you read questions like an expert.
So let us wrap this up and help you go on your way to getting that score you want. You need to practice questions, you need to learn what each question is asking you, you need to develop a schedule to cover the content in a time that fits your and only your study habits, and when in doubt never be afraid to ask for help. You can and will succeed when that test is administered. These principles will hold true for your medical licensing examination usmle step 1, usmle step 2 ck, usmle step 2 cs, but most importantly these principles will shine through when you begin the practice of medicine!
Have faith, don’t give up, reach out to us if you want more direction, and we will see you on the other side.
Best of luck,
DaVinci Academy Team