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I expected that I would know most of — if not all — the words in the book. I was wrong. After reading through the First Aid cardiology section, a moment of uneasiness set in. Then I went through the next section. Most concerning to someone about to take the most critical test of their medical career? I began to calculate how many pages I would have to read per hour before my exam to get through all of First Aid.

But then something strange happened.

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I took a deep breath, took a step back, and told myself to chill. I tabulated how many items I got right because I knew facts vs.

NBME Part I versus USMLE Step 1: predicting scores based on : Academic Medicine

I knew how to apply my knowledge. The more I thought about it, the calmer I became. This was particularly true for the most challenging problems. Histiocytosis X and Birbeck granules. Stop memorizing First Aid! Could I master all the material for Step 1 in 3 weeks? Not a chance.

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Yet that is the impossible goal most students set for themselves. They have a particular goal score. However, they tell themselves they have to take their tests by an arbitrary date. Therefore what should take a normal student weeks, I need to do twice as fast. Instead of slowing down, however, these students move even faster.

They learn even less and cram more, and the cycle of stagnant NBMEs repeats itself. Let me tell you a story of two students I worked with recently. Every time we met, I would remind her that she needed to learn things at greater depth.


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He focused several days or more on each organ block. He took as much time as necessary to understood the organ before he moved on. With Tortoise, if anything, once or twice I had to remind him not to spend TOO much time on any particular block. Tortoise: to in 1. Hare: to over the same time period. Now, Tortoise still has several organ blocks left to cover.

However, we are confident that he will continue to raise his score as he learns each new block in-depth. In other words, Tortoise only has a handful of subjects left to cover.

Step 1 USMLE Success in Just Five Steps!

Hare had to slowly make her way through the entirety of the material, again. Rote learning makes up a tiny number of questions on NBME exams. Tally the number of items you miss on an NBME based off of factual knowledge. If so, forget trying to re-read First Aid. Instead, focus on mastery of the material. This suggestion may cause you a great deal of anxiety. However, knowledge is useless unless you can use it. Not to mention understanding the material will make you a better doctor.

Evidence Based Study Techniques to Crush USMLE Step 1

The best clinicians have a deep understanding of the human body. You may be wondering how to actually achieve that integration and application. Here are more articles to help you learn how to master the material, and know how to use it:. At this point, the students have completed their first academic year and are about to depart for several months of protected vacation time. The two-month summer break is a key time in medical education in which students can actively self-appraise their performance in school and work toward productive changes in their study and test-taking techniques.

We have found that students rarely employ self-reflective strategies without formal, structured encouragement, and this session provides an opportunity for early emphasis on self-assessment. The third session is conducted at the beginning of the second year after students have returned to their didactic activities. This session provides a transition from a general focus on strategies for success in medical school to a specific discussion about techniques that can be employed to focus on future tests and examinations.

This session provides strategies that will ultimately prove helpful for planning and preparing for the USMLE Step 1 examination; however, emphasis is placed on the fact that these strategies are applicable to all future tests and examinations. The third session emphasizes the use of various resources for managing these difficult waters and determining how to differentiate between higher- and lower-yield information on both institution-based testing and national, standardized testing.

Upper class volunteers provide first-hand accounts of their experiences, and students are encouraged to actively employ these strategies as they anticipate the future challenge of Step 1. The fourth and fifth sessions focus exclusively on planning and preparing for the focused study period that is protected from academic responsibility and devoted to Step 1 study. During this study time, students at our institution spend 4—5 weeks in focused, protected review for the Step 1 examination. The fourth session, conducted prior to the winter vacation, offers the opportunity for students to generate a personalized study strategy and study schedule for their five-week focused review.

Examples of different study schedules are provided and their relative advantages and disadvantages are discussed so that students can develop schedules that meet their own personal goals, expectations, and experiences. The fourth session emphasizes the importance of employing techniques for self-assessment during the focused study period, such that students may evaluate their performance throughout their study, prior to test day. The fifth session is organized somewhat differently from prior sessions. It typically lasts 1. In these small groups, students bring their schedules and resources for review and have the opportunity to ask specific questions of their upper class colleagues.

They receive coaching from the upper class students, both as a group and individually, to achieve a personalized plan for self-preparation. The presentation that precedes this small group time discusses the daily study considerations and addresses the stress and anxiety that will inevitably occur on and after test day. The fifth and final session emphasizes the importance of anticipating post-test anxiety, which we have found to be particularly difficult for students.

Following completion of the second year of this course, a survey was designed to assess the impact of this program on student anxiety. The survey was distributed to all members of the Class of at the end of the course and prior to the date of Step 1. All students had the opportunity to attend each session of this non-compulsory course. The survey consisted of three questions asking students: 1 to report the number of sessions they attended; 2 whether the course provided helpful guidance on early planning and preparation for the focused Step 1 study period; and 3 to indicate whether they would have felt more, less, or the same anxiety if they had not attended the course.

The data was aggregated to tabulate an average response from this class. The results of this review analysis are provided in Fig. Results of seminar series survey. Results from the post-course survey depicting student attendance A ; overall helpfullness of the course in terms of guidance and support B ; and projected student anxiety without the course C.

This rate may represent nearly all of the student attendees, as attendance of these sessions was not compulsory. Only 4. Furthermore, in the overall comments on the course, students frequently praised the opportunity to interact productively with upper class students. Among the numerous challenges and obstacles medical students face, the transitions throughout medical school and the Step 1 examinations are among the most significant. Previous studies have demonstrated that students rely heavily on student advice and personal study habits when preparing for these important medical milestones 8.

These studies have also shown that students have significant anxiety and stress about the Step 1 examination and thus will invest time and money into commercial review courses seeking structure and organization, despite the observation that these courses do not tend to increase Step 1 scores 5 — 8. Through a comprehensive assessment of the student body's perception of medical education at our institution, both strengths i.

This review provided an opportunity to develop a five-part seminar series that complements the existing curriculum and addresses issues of educational guidance and student anxiety. Overall, student support was observed for this course, and a reduction in student anxiety was demonstrated. This course addresses previously reported factors that affect student preparation, including the development of personalized learning habits and the transfer of advice between medical students. It encourages formal self-assessment through repeated and deliberate conversations that emphasize scholastic self-appraisal.

The course facilitates an organized approach to structured preparation by encouraging students to generate schedules and review materials throughout the learning process. It provides a non-threatening environment for discussion between students and enhances the possibility for mentorship opportunities. We encourage the use of such a series to complement pre-existing medical curricula.

The authors have not received any funding or benefits from industry to conduct this study. A copy of the curriculum for this five-part seminar series can be accessed according to the following reference: Strowd R, Lambros A. Planning and Preparing for Success in Medical School. MedEdPortal; National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Med Educ Online v. Med Educ Online. Published online Feb Roy E.

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Email: ude. Strowd and Ann Lambros. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Background Standardized examinations are the key components of medical education. Methods In response to student-generated critique at our institution, a five-part seminar series on process-oriented preparation was developed and implemented to address such concerns. Background Identification of an apparent deficiency In , our institution administered a comprehensive self-review study in preparation for the Liaison Committee on Medical Education LCME site visit and review process.

Open in a separate window. Development of a seminar series In response to these critiques, the institutional LCME preparatory committee recommended formally enhancing educational guidance within the medical school curriculum, specifically for Step 1 preparation. Description A seminar series on process planning The primary objective of the course is to encourage early process-oriented preparation for success in medical education. The five-part seminar series The first session is conducted several months into medical school after students have had the opportunity to acclimate themselves to medical education.

Evaluation Following completion of the second year of this course, a survey was designed to assess the impact of this program on student anxiety.


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Conclusions Among the numerous challenges and obstacles medical students face, the transitions throughout medical school and the Step 1 examinations are among the most significant. Conflict of interest and funding The authors have not received any funding or benefits from industry to conduct this study.