This is not going to be a perfect guide on how to score a 250+ on Step 1. I know that the score won’t even matter because the exam is going Pass/Fail very soon. No matter what the scoring will be when you take the exam, you still need to pass and I hope these tips help you avoid some of the mistakes I made during my dedicated study period.
If you haven’t seen it already, I posted a reaction video of me opening my Step 1 score report. You can find it here. I literally thought I would fail, and I don’t want you guys to have that feeling, so here are my tips! Feel free to check out my video on this topic as well!
Not being flexible with your study schedule or being too rigid
If you’re anything like me, you are a planner. You may have a physical planner or use a digital calendar. I am obsessed with my Google calendar and tend to plan the majority of my day there. I’m not saying this is healthy, but it’s what I do. When it was time to study for Step 1, I did the same thing- blocked off different times during the day for different things- questions, content review, flashcards, lunch, and dinner breaks. While this can be super helpful to keep you on track, there will be days where you may need more time for certain tasks. The mistake I made was not being flexible and letting my schedule stress me out rather than help me achieve my goals.
So, what can you do to avoid this mistake? Make a reasonable To-Do list. Keep it simple: UWORLD Block 1 and Block 2, content review, Anki, and one personal thing. This is just an example, but this could easily take up 8 hours of studying! Be mindful of how many hours each thing is taking.
Prioritizing content review over questions
This is major guys!!! Probably my biggest mistake. I started my dedicated period by spending anywhere between3-5 hours trying to do the content review. PLEASE I’M BEGGING YOU DON’T DO THIS!! Keep it limited to 1-2 hours if you need to start with it but prioritize your UWORLD blocks. We often forget that doing the questions IS content review. You spent the last 2 years studying for this exam. I know it doesn’t feel like it but I promise you things will come back to you while you are studying and what you forgot you will quickly learn again. If I could go back, I would start the day off with some ANKI cards for maybe an hour and then head right into my 2 UWORLD blocks. Then I would have maybe an hour at the end of the day to go over the hardest subjects for me.
Not taking care of your mental and physical health
Honestly, this was the first thing to go once dedicated got super stressful. I stopped working out even though I was adamant about not stopping. I was eating healthy snacks (and some not so healthy). I wanted “more time to study” and to eat junk food that made me happy. You definitely need to find a balance- 1 hour to exercise or watch your favorite TV show will not stop you from doing well on the exam. It might actually help you keep your sanity so you can push through for 4-8 weeks of studying.
Using UWORLD as a predictor vs. as a textbook
UWORLD questions are not a predictor of how well you are going to do on the exam. If you start off getting 20-40% correct on your blocks, that’s okay. I would get so upset that my percentages were so low and that would stop me from really learning the information the way I need to learn it. Don’t see your numbers as a setback, but like an opportunity to learn and do better. If you change your mindset – you can conquer UWORLD. You need to get into the mindset o using questions as a textbook. Every question is a part of the textbook chapter you are trying to learn. Takes notes in a way that you actually go back and look at them!
Also, if I could go back I would definitely try to get through the Q bank 1 full time BEFORE dedicated. I was only able to get through it once fully and did some of my incorrect questions.
Not reinforcing what you’ve learned/what you don’t understand – Anki, reviewing notes, watching review videos to solidify info
I told you above to take notes in a way that you actually go back to review. You need to find a way to review what you’d learned. Spaced repetition is everything! ANKI is the easiest way to do this, but I understand that it might not be for everyone. If you handwrite or type your notes then make sure you read those notes again every day. You need to reinforce what you’ve learned- so you can watch YouTube or Boards and Beyond videos of the concepts that might be difficult for you. Just find a way to jam these facts into your brain! You need to see things multiple times…..IN A WAY THAT WORKS FOR YOUR LEARNING STYLE. This brings me to my bonus tip…..
Bonus: When asking people for advice ask them how they learn- are they visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or a mix.
Be selective with who you take advice from. That’s why I’m not going into too much detail here and trying to keep thieve tips pretty general so that you have the space to make the decisions that work best for you. You can do well on the exam! It’s just another hurdle standing between you and your dream of becoming a physician. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or DM on IG @afrosandanatomy.