Before you embark on your dedicated Step 1 study time, it is essential to prepare and have a schedule in place lest you become aimless in your studies, or lose track of your progress. This was one of the tips that every person I talked to advised, and I certainly found it to be crucial in structuring my time. A sample of my schedule is attached. Overall, I tried to get through all the organ blocks by week 4, so that I could use the remaining 4 weeks for review and really refining my test-taking skills. I never took more than 2 days for one organ block in order to stay on track, and made sure to begin with a baseline diagnostic test. Although it seemed silly to me at first as I felt like I knew nothing prior to studying, it makes sense in that it helps you to identify broadly where your weaknesses lie in regards to disciplines and systems, and gives you an idea of how the test is formatted and how you are pacing yourself. Towards the second half of your study period, it is fundamental to take at least one practice test a week, if not two, and to track your scores so that you can keep track of your progress. During the first pass of studying where I was re-learning topics, I focused mostly on content, which consisted of watching a lot of videos and doing many questions. The second pass consisted primarily of going through questions I answered incorrectly and concentrating on areas I felt weaker in (for me, this was a lot of biochemistry, cardiology, and pharmacology). It is essential that you schedule in time to decompress and not think about studying at all – I know some students who took a day off a week to do so, but I opted to factor in a few hours each day where I was relaxing rather than blocking out a whole day. You will find what works best for you, but regardless, having structure in the midst of studying every day is very beneficial.
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Alex is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. As an avid lover of the intellect and interspecialty collaboration associated with medicine, she is excited to be applying for Internal Medicine residency programs. Her interest in medicine largely stems from her volunteer work in free clinics in underserved communities and experiences growing up with a brother with autism.
Before attending medical school, Alex completed her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University in 2014 and her Master of Public Health (concentration in Chronic Disease Epidemiology) at Yale University in 2016.
When she is not working in the hospital or studying, you can find Alex running by the lake, doing circuit workouts outdoors in the fields, drawing and/or writing, or at home spending time with her family in the suburbs of Chicago.