I am always looking for new tips and tricks to incorporate into my studies. As a medical student, there is SO much information coming at me every day, and not enough time to effectively study it all. I recently spoke with one of my professors and she recommended something new to me – consuming my life with USMLE questions.
I never thought how beneficial this could actually be for my study habits. Maybe some others are already doing this and have seen great results. But this was news to me and I was eager to try. I have always been told ‘read the lecture notes and read the textbooks.’ I am not a ‘reading’ learner–I am hands-on and have to present the material to myself in a creative way or else I won’t retain it. My professor told me I need to be a “test zombie” – wake up, do questions. Go to class, listen – but also do questions. Have lunch, do questions. Have dinner, do questions. Get in bed, do questions. It actually makes a lot of sense. I tried this for two days straight and it’s already made a significant difference in how I am learning and retaining the material. My professor also recommended using free afternoons to do ‘open-ended sessions’ which will allow yourself to slowly go through the questions and research what you don’t know. Then, once you go through the questions a few times, take them as a timed test session to simulate the USMLE. This method prepares you for your class exams and for the USMLE in the long run. I find that I learn more from a clinical vignette and my own research because it is presented to me as a real-life scenario versus reading it from a textbook.
If you don’t have access to a question bank, I highly recommend getting one. There are a bunch out there that are paid subscription based, but there are also websites with free USMLE-style questions. There are even textbook q-banks you can buy or can access online for free as a PDF file. It doesn’t need to be the newest and most expensive program. As long as the material is relevant, I strongly believe that ANY kind of question is going to benefit you in some way, no matter where it’s coming from.