Study Habits you Need to Develop to Pass the USMLE Exam

Study Habits you Need to Develop to Pass the USMLE Exam Image Source: Pexels


The USMLE is a one-day exam most medical students take in their second year of medical school. It’s also a mandatory exam for international medical graduates that want to practice in the United States. To excel at this exam, you need to develop some critical study habits. Let’s look at a few ways you can create a study schedule that will lead to your success.


Review Materials in Clusters

Your brain interprets knowledge easier by making a connection between two separate parts. For example, if you were researching anemia, you could also study which vitamins are more likely to contribute to this condition and which lab tests would determine anemia. Your memory recall will be quicker when combining each group. A USMLE prep course can help you develop this strategy because the test initiators know how this strategy can contribute to success.


Stay Organized

Set up a schedule and stick to it as often as you can. As a doctor, you’ll need to set multiple parts of your personal life aside to adhere to the long work hours and the unpredictability of your patients, so you should try and cultivate this skill early. Try not to spend too much time on one section, because you could ignore an entire subject altogether. Block your time by the hour and decide how much time you should spend on one topic. 


Schedule Breaks

Although working multiple hours straight seems to be the most effective option, it can actually make you do less work. Taking breaks increases productivity, so only study for an hour to an hour and a half at a time and take a 10-15 minute break. Your concentration declines significantly every hour or so, and sitting longer will provide minimal returns. Breaks allow your short-term memory to transition into your long-term memory.


Focus on Your Weaknesses First

Take a pretest that you can find online, or create one yourself based on questions that have a high probability of appearing on the test. Don’t prep before doing this; just answer as many questions as you can. After taking the test, you can identify where your weak areas are. Use this knowledge to accelerate your learning by honing in on the subjects you struggle with. Then, take the same test again to see if you improved.


Don’t Forget About Your Strengths

While you should focus on improving your weaknesses, it’s also essential for you to establish your strengths because you may need to fall back on them for the test. If you’re having an issue recalling something you studied, keep reading the quiz to find a question that you can answer. The less you focus on a problem, the more likely it will come to you during a high-stress situation. You’ll be able to understand your strengths more if you take a practice test.


Study with a Group

Teaching is an excellent form of learning, but you can only capitalize on this benefit if you practice your skills with a group. Find yourself 4 or 5 people that you know won’t distract you and study in a quiet place at your home or library. Explain that your group can ask questions and collaborate answers with each other at any time. Just try not to bring too many people into the study session because it can make the experience chaotic.


Limit Your Informational Sources

While it can be helpful to get similar information from more than one source, in this instance, it may confuse or distract you. To avoid wasting time, select one main review book for each subject. If you have more than 1, then use one as the primary study material but, feel free to use the rest as a back-up. Too many study resources can muddy the waters and create information overload, which will inevitably slow your learning process.