With every passing year of medical school, I’m finally coming to terms with never being finished with tests. Of course, there are the run-of-the-mill assessments from the unit tests to shelf exams, but the ones that cause my heart to beat a little faster, my hands to sweat like crazy, and my left eye to twitch slightly involve the USMLE. To say that I have test anxiety is a bit of an understatement. Last year, studying for Step 1 took such a toll on me. This past month, I’m pretty sure it didn’t get any easier. I knew what I was getting into and started out with a strong plan, but I still struggled with motivation, pacing, and discouragement arising from lower than expected practice test scores. I also kept thinking about my terrible experience with Step 1 and that definitely clouded my perspective on this whole Step 2 business.
At the same time, studying for Step 2 was like doing a gigantic review of all the clerkships that I’ve already completed over the past 12 months. There was not a single resource “Bible” that I referenced. Instead, I pulled mainly from question banks and even my notes from past shelf exams. I knew what worked for me, specifically emphasizing video lectures and minimizing passive reading, though I felt like there was still so much to cover for such a vague test. Whatever the final score might be, I know that I put in all the effort that I could, given all the self-enforced pressure and my relatively busy fourth year schedule.
And as always, it’s never over. The future will only bring more exams: Step 3 and specialty board exams.