Typically medical students take Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE®) following their second-year of pre-clinical training. But there is little typical about this testing cycle.
As of late May, about 20% of students waiting to take either the Step 1, Step 2 CK or Step 3 exams had taken them. Meaning about 80% of students scheduled to take exams were still waiting—though exams are returning in various venues.
Even with uncertainty, those waiting to take Step 1 are likely in their final weeks of prep. What should you know as you hit the stretch run? Here are some helpful tips.
- In a problem that is unique to this testing cycle, exam postponements have given students time to study past the point of mental fatigue. If you know your test date at this point, the best plan is to try to pace your studying to reach peak performance in advance of it. That could mean rationing your available resources.
- “It is possible to overstudy,” said Christopher Cimino, MD, chief medical officer at Kaplan Medical. “You get fatigued. There’s a certain speed to how fast you can bring new knowledge in. And there’s a certain speed of decay of the knowledge you’re not using.”
- Speaking broadly, Step 1 focuses on the basic sciences.
- “The general wisdom is that Step 1 has a significant portion of the test on physiology, pharmacology and pathology,” Dr. Cimino said. “And some questions will have a combo of two or all three as part of the question.”