Study strategies and advice for USMLE no.1

Study strategies and advice for USMLE no.1

November 16th, 2015, (0 Comments)

Hello colleagues,


This week we thought about giving some advice for preparing and taking any USMLE exam, as many are familiar already preparing for a USMLE test is something tedious and time consuming with long hours of study, monumental amounts of information, lots of mnemonics and numerical data and also signs and symptoms, so much information needs a strategy for studying to be able to make long term memories of all that information.


So here are some study strategies and advices that hopefully will help in your preparation:


-Morning Reviews: this means every day before starting with new information you should make a quick review of the things you studied yesterday, while doing this try to rephrase and anticipate what you are reading as well as remember things you may have forgotten.


This will help increase your retention of information; try to keep as little mnemonics as possible in use since they are confusing for making connections with other information.


-Draw the cycles: Some cycles are important for your exams, so much more because they can be used in numerated diagrams without key components in the case they have some, cycles like Krebs, thyroid function, testosterone formation, and many others can be used in a diagram this of course makes things a little bit more complicated if you don’t know them from memory, here is where drawing those cycles from scratch can be very helpful not only will they remain for one test but you will be able to keep reproducing them while you study for your next exam.


-Make a bullet list of facts from every subject: this is really useful to reduce the amount of reading once you are reviewing a subject already studied, also those particularly useless information facts that are also asked may be found in your own words, for example vitamin facts (yes also the ones that are not really an everyday necessity), abuse drugs relevant (for exam purposes) information, etc. the idea is to have all that particular not so logical information about any subject close to remember in a list, also try to make a one page list for each subject so that you can find more easily what you are trying to remember, even when some courses give you their list, re-write it using your own words this makes them easier to remember.


-Ask a lot: if you don’t understand something, if a particular subject or mechanism is not really clear ask a colleague, ask a friend, ask a resident, ask as many times as needed, might be that using their explanations makes you remember more clearly that information during the exam.

It’s better to have doubts or don’t get something right off and get some help during your preparation than getting confused during the exam.


 -Don’t push yourself: burnout is a reality when preparing, everyone knows that feeling of reading without understanding a word, when you feel tired step away from the table do something useful for you, distract yourself, take a shower, call a friend (social interactions are needed in life), play games, listen to music etc. for some this may take a 30 min. break but sometimes more frequently at the end of the day is better to stop and get some time to recharge.


-Keep your habits: I know it sound weird, but some people like to stay away from their habits while preparing, if you drink coffee, exercise, drink soda, like to study at night etc. keep those habits while preparing, since we are not equal, its ok to have our own habits for studying.


-Review those answers: when doing question banks, take your time, it’s not a race, the important thing is to review the answers and their explanations since that a form of studying. Also remember to start as early as possible doing questions, we always advice to start as early as possible and make them a part of your everyday study session.


-Learn to identify images: it’s really important to understand what you are looking at, many questions you may find will have images from CT scans, X rays etc. so learn to identify the anatomical structures in those images, especially for heart, pelvic, abdominal and brain images.


-Do some math: For some topics you have to actually make calculations, using data from the questions, so don’t just memorize the formulas, try them, make some exercises using that formulas and apply them, doctors don’t like numbers and that’s  ok, but in this case do some math.


 We hope this helps you achieve your goals, wishing you all luck in your exams,


HFY team.


We would love to hear from you, let us know any advice and strategy to prepare for the exams.


Remember to visit our site at for more on study guides.


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