A Plan for Success on the USMLE
Step 1, 2 and 3 Examinations
We believe that it is perfect practice that makes perfect. You want to do well. To achieve this goal, as in any endeavor, it is critical to make a schedule that is real and manageable. As you develop your schedule, we believe you can work toward the goal of achieving a score commensurate with your abilities by considering the following 5 Step For Success.
- Practice for the event.
- Do some questions every day. Minimally, find at least 15 to 30 minutes daily.
- Use the questions you miss to give yourself focused directions for review.
- Make certain that the questions you use have explanations, or at least references to a reliable source so that you can confirm any misperceptions you may have.
- Start using a laminated sheet and Expo 2 pen for interacting with the questions.
- Evaluate yourself with a diagnostic test.
- Find out qualitatively and quantitatively where you need to spend more time.
- Remember - you are looking to clearly identify your relative strengths and weaknesses and to focus on your strengths. It is very difficult to improve greatly by trying to clarify weaknesses but strengthening your strengths will ensure that you do not let yourself give away what you have coming conceptually.
- By definition you are going to miss 4 out of every 10 questions on the USMLE (around 62% is the mean). Get used to making decisions about which questions to let go of and which questions to spend time on thoughtfully. The "trick" is to not miss 5 out of 10.
- Start pacing exercises when you have two to three months to go before your sitting.
- Do a 20 to 30 minute, timed practice set every day. You are working to predictably answer 25 questions in each 30 minute period. This is a pace of 70 seconds per question which is what the boards allow.
- Spend an additional 10 to 15 minutes looking up the answers to the questions you miss.
- One month before your exam, go through another self-assessment.
- Give yourself another diagnostic test. To what extent have you corrected previous error patterns. What in your study plan is working? What is not?
- Adjust your schedule to ensure you are focused on questions in multiple areas.
- Two weeks before the exam, sit for a full day mock board on a computer.
- Plan for and follow through on a testing schedule. What food got you through the day? When do you need to take breaks? What did you have for breakfast? Did you use earplugs? Did you remember to write on the laminated sheets?
- If you had difficulties, what are you going to do?