USMLE – How should one approach?
Medical itself means you must tear off your comfort zone and make hard work your habit. Reaching the stage when USMLE comes in frame, shows your passion and dedication towards the future. Thousands of IMGs enter USA and Canada for the residency or with a dream of practicing Medical in the country. No doubt about the competition in the Medical field for the match making process for the residency. Local students gain advantage on study environment and education systems where IMGs lack a bit. That’s where USMLE makes fair ground for both local students and international students. USMLE basically tests whether student possess the required knowledge prevalent in the USA or not.
Also, hard work is key to pass USMLE, but smartly done hard work is all about great score for the tests. The preparations start with selecting right set of materials for the exams. We all are here to discuss Study Materials.
Basically, one should go with the material they understand, or one which resembles best. But passing with low score in stage 1 is cruel then failing it. Because once you pass, you cannot retake exams to improve your score. And success of residency match making heavily depends on your stage 1 scores. That’s where we need to understand what sets of material one shall go for increased scores.
Great sets of materials and practice question are provided on USMLE website to brief students about the Exam, Topics covered in it and how the exam operates as whole 3 step unit. In our view one shall not overlook the materials and samples test questions provided on the USMLE website for the improved understanding of the examination. We are not suggesting that material on the website is exhaustive, but It is great to have gone through the same.
There are many programs available in form of books, video lectures, practice questions, Question Banks, practice exams, i.e. First Aid, Kaplans medicals, pass program, becker professionals, broad vitals, etc.
Having heterogeneous courses for USMLE, most common mistakes made by student is selecting material which is good for their colleagues, and not analysing their potential worth on their studies collectively. One must not blindly go for the material just because it has great reviews. No doubt that such materials are made in a way that helps students score more but every single student has different specialities and Capabilities. Some can adapt well new things; some find it difficult to overcome old methods and applying new materials.
Select the study program considering your strengths and weakness and available time one has for the preparations.
Question Banks Given the exhaustive nature of the examination one may overlook some topics which amounts to lower marks or worse, failure in exams. To overcome, students must include Question bank in their study plan. Also, it is great way of revising what you know and realizing where you need to put in more efforts.
Flashcards, another great way of revising the whole nut. Flash cards saves time and make the revision faster and improve retention.
There is a misconception that one cannot go memorising the content without understanding the whole concept. We bag to differ here; we firmly believe that understanding concepts is basic and foremost requirement. Concepts are most important, without practical knowledge students will feel destroyed in Residency or clerkship. But that comes after you clear exam. So, to get there one has to score impressively. Given amount of time student have, they need to categorise the topics according to their % share in the blocks. More time given to topics having lesser % share will unnecessarily waste time off in your scores.