6 Tried and Tested Ways to Cope with USMLE Step 1 Test Anxiety

If you are a first or second year of medical student, you are meticulously tested on whether you are all set for clinical rotations and medical training. The USMLE Step 1 which is usually taken at the end of your second year, is the most important test of your life that assesses your grasp of key medical concepts and your ability to apply rudimentary science fundamentals in a medical setting.

Performing well in your test and securing good scores in the USMLE Step 1 is important for medical students. As your USMLE Step 1 scores play an integral role in determining your options in medical specialty choices and residency programs. The strain of doing well in the test leads many students to adopt an exhausting study schedule, replete with sleepless nights, in order to absorb every piece of information they can get their hands on. Healthy levels of stress can be useful in terms of motivation and goal setting; however, intense anxiety may be counterproductive in your academic performance.

Preparing for Step 1 can be challenging, however, developing good study habits and implementing some specific ways to reduce stress in your study plan will see to it that your productivity doesn’t plummet down the hole as a result of stress and anxiety.

If you want your studying experience to be less painful and more productive, here are some effective tips and tricks to alleviate USMLE step 1 test anxiety and pass the test with flying colors.

  1. Set Realistic Goals

Finding some healthy ways to deal with stress is important to survive Step 1 with an outstanding score. One of the best places to start your USMLE preparation is setting small, achievable goals to give yourself more manageable and frequent targets. The feelings of accomplishment make it easier to get excited about moving to the next goal. Working towards small and realistic goals will help you measure your success without becoming overwhelmed and feeling stressed.

  1. Create an Effective Study Plan

The learning style and capacity of every medical student is different. Trying to follow the study schedule of your peer sounds interesting but chances are it can cause more harm than good. You can use customized preparation schedules, templates, and plans. In addition, following a learning technique that best works for you is a great idea to absorb information. Read review books, use flashcards, watch YouTube videos, do practice questions, and try every learning method that you think can help you study effectively.

  1. Know Your Optimal Level of Concentration

There is no denying the fact that USMLE Step 1 preparation is no easy feat. To make the process simpler, set a realistic goal for the exam and determine a daily amount of time to study each course. Some students prefer studying for six hours each day, while others prefer eight to ten hours each day. Avoid studying more than ten hours a day as studying more than your study limits is not going to be fruitful. By knowing your daily limits, you will be more productive in your studies and less likely to burnout.

  1. Take some Time Off

This is one of the most important yet overlooked aspects when it comes to preparing for the USMLE test. To study smarter and perform well in the USMLE Step 1 exam, make sure your study schedule allows for some flexibility. The human mind can only absorb a certain amount of information at a time and needs to blow off steam when it feels burned out. After an optimal time, studying becomes counterproductive. That’s why medical students are advised to give themselves a day or half day off per week. Taking a time off will not only allow your mind and body to rejuvenate, but it will also keep you up with your schedule. If you don’t set aside a break time, chances are your productivity will decrease as a result.

  1. Try Different Study Techniques

There are many effective learning techniques that you can use for step 1 studying and help you get a perfect score. Spaced repetition, interleaving, reading review books, watching YouTube videos and practice test questions are a few easy ways to prepare well and relieve USMLE Step 1 test anxiety. Using questions banks such as USMLE World, First Aid, Pathoma and Sketchy Micro is another great way to ace the exam.

  1. Ask for Help

Every student learns at a different pace and a different way. Concepts that seem quite intricate and take hours to understand can easily be explained by your professor within a few minutes. Don’t afraid to ask someone when you need help to keep things at a regular pace. Getting professional help and talking to someone can help you can create a positive mindset and cope with your USMLE step 1 test anxiety. Many medical schools offer mental health services to help students with situations such as anxiety, depression, and stress. So, contact a psychologist at your medical school and ask for help when you actually need it. Psychological counseling will not only help you score good, but it will also help you feel better.

Closing Thoughts

Taking these easy and healthy steps ensures your USMLE preparation is as solid as possible and the time you spend studying will be more productive and effective. Your mind will work at a higher level, retain more information and stay calm during the test preparation when you use some of the above-mentioned techniques. You will be on your way to your best score when you deal with USMLE Step 1 Test Anxiety and avoid burnout.

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