When to take a Step
January 11th, 2016,
This is an important question throughout all your preparation, when to take a step, it’s important to plan ahead of time when to schedule your exam, while deciding on the specific date here are some things to consider:
-The amount of material to cover: take a good look at the topics and pages you will be needing to study for preparation and make a simple estimate of how long would it take you to read all that information twice.
-Study schedule: take into account the amount of hours a day you’re planning to study including weekends, also make an honest schedule don’t try to study more than you can, many students try to schedule more hours than they can handle, as a general rule more than 8 hours distributed in a day can get you confused and tired.
-Your memory: yes, everyone is different, some students get things quickly while others like me need more time to understand and memorize information, remember that for these tests you need to commit to memory large amounts of information for long periods so the usual one nighter cramming won’t work.
-Personal Time outs: since the preparations takes so long is common to have some personal events along the way, for example weddings, travels, birthdays, holydays etc. anything that is going to take some time off from your preparation should be considered while planning when to schedule your exams, it is almost impossible to try to review a subject in the beach or while traveling so plan accordingly.
-Add time for reviews: As a general rule more time always helps, of course there’s a limit to this rule but let’s say two weeks or a month can help you improve your weaknesses at the end, or take more practice questions, since many take a self-assessment test almost at the end this extra time can help you improve the areas where you are getting lower results.
-If you are having scores above 70% in question banks for more than 3 sessions you are ready to take the exams, also if your scores in NBME practice exams is above 200. sometimes its better to take it than to wait the ammount of material may affect your score rather than help it. Check also our blog about self assesment for adittional advice and tips at USMLE " http://www.usmleprepguide.com/Self%20assesment%20USMLE
Remember that you can take an eligibility period of 3 months before actually setting the date for your exam, this is a really helpful period, let’s say you estimate to take 8 months to prepare for step 1 or step 2 ck, you should start your eligibility period at the end of those 8 months so you can get to let’s say your 7 month of study and plan the exact date knowing how much more you will be needing to study, this way you can have as much as 3 months if necessary.
Also remember that these exams have so much material to cover that you will never feel completely ready, there will always be some doubt and that’s ok, just remember to have enough study to cover all the material and do practice questions at least for 3 months before your real test date.
If you feel insecure about taking a step that’s ok, we all have felt that way, there is no easy way to take these exams there’s always risk, and if you have a good score in your self-assessment test consider how much do you need to study before taking the risk.
If you have any comments please leave them in the comments section below, as always remember to visit us at www.usmleprepguide.com and take a look to our tutoring guides.