Now that classes are in full gear, I’m struggling with trying to find a way to balance between studying for the USMLE Step 1, keeping up with classes and maintaining my own personal health (i.e. eating well and exercising). I’ve been trying to cut back on my extracurricular activities (e.g. we scheduled our elections for AMWA to be early in the semester) and utilizing whatever limited free time I have to progress through First Aid. Furthermore, I’ve also been experimenting with switching my daily routine around to make more time for studying in the evening – normally, I like to go to the gym in the evening after class, but that left little to no time for studying since soon after working out I would start preparing for bed. Now, I wake up at 4AM in order to get my workout in before class so that my entire evening is free. It has been difficult to get to bed at a reasonable hour (this schedule would be much more difficult to stick to if these were the summer months and the sun was up as I was trying to fall asleep).
Currently, I’m trying to stick to the famous (at least on the Student Doctor Network forums) “Taus Method” (the link takes you to a search query of Taus method on the SDN forums) of preparing for the boards. I am by no means a “gunner,” however, I do recognize the importance of this exam and know that if I don’t get started early that there is no way that I would have enough time to learn all of the information we need to know for the exam by May. Furthermore, there are definitely subjects that I didn’t feel like I learned adequately (e.g. basic sciences because I was trying to adjust to medical school) – by starting early, I can try to identify and address these weaknesses.
The study plan isn’t anything novel – it essentially spells out a set of guidelines that other test takers have tried in the past to ensure that the material is reviewed at least 3 times prior to taking the exam. There are a lot of different approaches to studying for the exam, but I wanted to find something that really broke things down for me. The Taus method seemed to fit the bill so I looked into it more seriously over winter break and setup a skeleton schedule for studying during the school year as well as an outline for how I want to spend my time studying during my dedicated study time. I made some alterations to the method to integrate other resources that I have been using (e.g. Pathoma) and to try to bring it up to date (the last “official” update of the method was in 2010).
It has been difficult to try to make time for boards studying, but so far I’m making at least a little headway – hopefully I’ll be able to keep it up! Have you started studying? What study plan are you following?
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All of the opinions expressed here are the author’s and hers alone, and do not represent necessarily those of Kaplan or its employees.