There are two inevitable things in medical school: continuous study and examinations. In particular, the USMLE step 1 is one of the most stressful and difficult examinations in your career in medical school. Your performance in this examination will set the tone for your residency match’s success or failure.
To be honest, residency programmes are competitive, and although the Step 1 is going to be pass or fail soon, you still have to make sure you pass in one sitting. Knowing these tips and tricks to beat the examiner would make you get prepared for the Step 1 with even little effort.
1. Answering questions with a lot of answer choices
The boards’ examiners often make the elimination process very difficult by providing tons of answer choices. They do this deliberately in order to limit your ability to come down to the right answer. You may have not only a long question stem but an eye-catching list of answer choices.
The best approach here is to try your best to eliminate the answers and use your gut feeling. Only through taking a lot of practice tests and sample questions will you feel comfortable on the boards.
2. Answering long question stems
The question stems are stuffed with irrelevant information designed to lead you in the wrong route. Most diagnostic or clinical questions will be filled with a comprehensive set of vitals, labs, and a thorough physical exam.
Skipping to the bottom of the question stem and reading what the test writers truly want you to answer is a major test-taking method. You can re-read the question stem once you’ve figured out where the question is going. You probably won’t need to read the stem in order to come up with an answer in this case.
3. Mastering Biostatistics
The incorporation of biostatistics on the USMLE Step 1 is becoming increasingly important. This will be a challenging section of the exam unless you are highly familiar with concepts like positive predictive values, hazard ratios, and the number needed to treat. You’ll be asked to quickly comprehend esoteric, sophisticated research that presents their findings using unusual statistical approaches. I recommend devoting some of your study time to practicing biostatistics questions and familiarizing yourself with the language and calculations. This is critical to a successful Step 1 performance. Do not undervalue the complexity and sheer volume of biostatistics questions.
4. Interpretation of experimental results
A theoretical experiment will be used in presenting many of the pharmacology and physiology problems on the USMLE Step 1. These types of questions are popular among examiners since they are difficult and require you to synthesize and grasp multiple topics at once. To successfully answer these questions, you must be familiar with the mechanisms, routes, and names of many drugs.
Make sure you’re familiar with terms like pharmaceutical modes of action and enzyme receptors. Recognize that these questions will frequently be asked in the context of an experiment rather than a simple recital of facts.
5. Knowing deeper than the diagnosis
The majority of the questions on Step 1 are about interpreting experiments, knowing physiology and biochemistry, and recognizing histopathology slides, among other things. This isn’t a test where you’ll be asked a lot of “what’s the diagnosis?” questions. These are the types of questions that are usually saved for Steps 2 and 3.
Instead of researching the clinical signs and symptoms of rheumatic heart disease, concentrate on histology and mechanisms. Instead of focusing on how hyperthyroidism leads to the characteristic phenotypic signs of Graves’ disease, understand how the thyroid hormone is synthesized.
To summarize, although the USMLE Step 1 is becoming pass/fail, it is still difficult. The tried-and-true strategies of doing a lot of practice questions, studying early and effectively, and employing high-yield test prep materials will all help you succeed. Good luck, and don’t forget to study!