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    How To Prepare For USMLE Exams


    How To Prepare For USMLE Exams


    The boards will test what you know. If you don't know much, you will fail. For most boards the pass rate is about two out of three. Don't be part of the lower 1/3.
    Start intensive study at least one year before the exam date. Do not wait until the last month. One year ahead of the exam date, fantasize that the exam is next week. Panic. Then relax. Lucky you: you have a whole year!
    One year before the exam date identify two important sources and begin to review them. These should be:

    1. A comprehensive textbook in your specialty area, and
    2. Any official review materials promulgated by your specialty organization.
    The textbook need not be read cover to cover; instead, sections you feel uncomfortable with should be closely reviewed, while other sections can be skimmed or ignored. In contrast, every sentence of the specialty recommended study materials should be scrutinized and learned to the point of full understanding, using whatever outside sources are necessary (e.g., journal review articles).

    Take notes and make lists of what you read. Unless you have a truly photographic memory, you will remember little of what you read. Reading a paragraph in June for a September exam is of no help if you don't remember it. Make lists of material that you view as potentially important, especially if the subject is mentioned in the specialty recommended materials; review your notes continually as you get closer to the exam. Examples of lists you might make for an Internal Medicine exam: the specific differences between rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus; the classes of antibiotics and what they are used for; the causes and workout of thrombocytopenia. Take a comprehensive review course or a good review material. Ideally, the course should be spread out during the year, but a one week intensive course is also helpful if taken at least six weeks ahead of the exam, so you can review the course syllabus in depth. Use the course syllabus to augment notes that you prepared from the two primary sources. Stay focused. Commit a certain number of hours a week to study and don't allow yourself to become sidetracked. Studying only five hours a week as a senior resident for 9-12 months (less than one hour a day) should serve you well for any board exam.

    Don't worry about what is in the medical journals. A recurring myth is that board exams emphasize recent journal articles. Not so. The boards emphasize widely accepted information, which means textbook knowledge, not the latest journal reports. Make sure your study materials are current and ignore the latest in journal research. The main value of medical journals (for board review purposes) will be selected review articles on clinical subjects.

  2. #2
    IMG SURVIVOR's Avatar
    IMG SURVIVOR is offline Moderator 536 points
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    good advise about the boards
    Moderator: USMLE AND Residency Forums.

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    why even bother with the obvious. Just know where you are need it and where you can help the most.

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