In my last post, I talked about what taking Step 1 was like. For anyone that’s taken the MCAT, run a marathon, or participated in a Dance Marathon (or some similar event), the heavy feeling after the fact is real. Having now taken some time to decompress and reflect, it’s natural to talk about what I “should have done” or what went wrong, rather than what went right. So I’ll share some of both about my Step 1 experience:
What went right:
- Practice questions. There is nothing better than doing practice questions, particularly to learn. All of them in randomized, timed (non-tutor) mode to simulate the test as best as possible. Go through UWorld once, and at least cover the questions you got wrong a second time (to see if you learned).
- Simulate the test itself. For the 2 Thursday’s before the test, I would do 1 NBME and 1 UWorld Form (for a total of 8 blocks and 320 questions). I simulated break time, lunch and breaks, and even who I interacted with. While it was more than the number of questions on Step (280), being over prepared made the last few blocks of Step more manageable.
- Rapid review the 3 days before the test. In the back of First Aid there are about 400 associations and they are high yield. I found some flashcards of them, and it definitely helped me score a few extra points.
What I could have done differently:
- Treat Q banks like a learning material, rather than as an assessment. UWorld and Rx will give you scores based on your day to day performance, and it’s easy to want to translate that score into how well you’ll do on test day. But because you take these so frequently, using these scores as a judgment to your success was psychologically draining. It made some days absolutely difficult to study (and other days I could study sunrise to sunset).
- Study with a peer. It’s easy to get into a silo, but it’s isolating. Having someone you can bounce studying off of would have helped me cement some of the trickier topics.
- Take breaks every week. During the last 4 weeks, I didn’t take any time off, and I regretted it. I found myself really tired most days, and it may have been helpful to have a day off where I could recharge.
Here’s to the next chapter of med school!