Are You Ready For The USMLE Step 1?

The United States Medical Licensing Examination, or USMLE, is a daunting obstacle for most people. Anyone working through the system with hopes of practicing one day both knows and fears the tests world renowned for difficulty. In fact, many people let their fear lower their chances of success. The simple fact is that time spent worrying about the test can instead be time spent preparing for it. And there are some solid ways in which one can prepare. It’s best to begin at the beginning and focus on step 1.

USMLE step 1 is intended for second-year medical students. They should take a moment to really consider just how used to study and test preparation they’ve become. Few people are as expert at staying calm under pressure as a medical student. As such, anyone taking the USMLE step 1 has already mastered an important part of the process. Students will be long past the point of proving they’re capable of studying for difficult tests. And while this is more difficult than most, it’s still just one test among many.

Next, students should set a firm goal for themselves. Students need to score 188 or better on the test. The national average is 221. However, there’s one caveat to consider. Some specialties are more competitive than others. Getting into one of the more difficult areas often requires a score of around 240. These numbers can act as a guide for what one is aiming for. If students are uncertain it’s best to try to go just a little above and beyond a good score for a difficult specialty. As such, a good number for them to aim for would be around 245.

It’s also important to start studying as early as possible. A student would ideally begin working with USMLE prep materials long before they need to take the test. Beginning in one’s first year can provide ample time to really perfect one’s knowledge base. However, most schools do provide some extra study time before the test. This averages in at about two months.

Students also need to use the right resources to prepare for the USMLE. A subscription to a USMLE question bank is usually quite reasonable. Especially when one considers that the totality of admission costs to medical school rest on the results of the USMLE.

It’s also important to make use of practice tests. Many schools provide students with one free practice test. However, students can always make a decision to purchase more practice test sessions. Ultimately there’s no better way to really understand how well one is doing with the preparations than to take a practice test.

Study guides are also an important part of the process. It’s difficult to weigh the different guide value for any individual student. This difficulty stems from the fact that everyone has different study habits. Likewise, what guide fits into those styles will differ on a case by case basis. It’s important to go over the choices and really decide on which one is the best fit.

Finally, it’s important to remember that one can’t live obsessing over the test. It’s often said that a healthy body goes hand in hand with a healthy mind. And students should ensure that they’re getting an adequate amount of rest, eating healthy food and getting regular exercise.

If one follows all of these steps then his or her scores should rise fairly rapidly. It’s important to keep that simple fact in mind. Most students find the test intimidating. But those students have already pushed through difficult academic pressures. Like those, this is a matter or properly preparing and honestly assessing oneself.