Do you have a Step 1 dedicated period in the coming months of 2022? If so, you may have already noticed the immense amount of online resources – from detailed, daily calendars to lengthy lists of tips for success – to guide your studying during those crucial weeks. However, you may have less clarity on the best ways to prepare in the weeks leading up to dedicated (for example, in January, February, and March, before a dedicated study period begins in April). Should you use up UWorld questions or save them all for dedicated? How can you ensure you’ll remember what you’re reading in First Aid right now? How much Step 1 studying should you be doing every week, while you still have the daily responsibilities associated with lecture classes, research projects, and extracurricular activities?
How would you describe studying for Step 1? Is it internalizing data? Or would you call it pattern recognition? Is it retaining facts, or applying knowledge? Likely all the above. But at some level, studying for Step 1, or any exam for that matter, is about triaging information. In your 800 pages of First Aid and 2000+ UWorld questions (leaving aside hundreds of flash cards and possible second question bank), your task is to learn as much as possible. Hanging onto the entirety of this information is an impossibility; at some point you need to be happy enough with having an “acceptable” handle on the material. While aiming for “good enough” might feel like selling yourself short, many students will express the feeling of having “hit capacity,” and find it difficult to put more info into a fact-laden noggin.
There’s no sugar-coating it; opening your Step 1 score report to find the word “Fail” plastered in that little grey box is an awful feeling. You just spent several weeks studying for one of the most difficult exams you will ever face, endured the eight-hour marathon of exam questions, and spent weeks anxiously awaiting your results.
Now you are beyond disappointed. You may be tempted to hunt down every NBME question writer and have a Carrie Underwood moment with their cars, or crawl into bed and sleep until you can’t sleep any more. Please resist both of these impulses. There is hope!
Last week, the NBME released a statement shining some new light on how the USMLE Step 1 pass/fail change is rolling out. In particular, they spoke to the Comprehensive Basic Science Exam (CBSE) and Comprehensive Basic Science Self Assessment (CBSSA) are transitioning to pass/fail reporting.
Dr. Stephens breaks down the coming changes, reviews how the CBSEs and CBSSAs will help you assess your probability of passing the USMLE Step 1, how your performance insights will be shared, and more.
Step 1 has been a source of immense stress for medical students since the 1990s. The day you start medical school (or even before that) your peers start talking about Step 1, how to study for it, and how nothing is important in the pre-clinical years except what is high-yield on the test. You start to believe that the entire rest of your life, career, and happiness depends on this single exam, and it can lead to severe burnout, anxiety, and depression.
Think about the last time you were engaged in conversation, and your eyes and part of your attention drifted to read and respond to a text message while still paying enough attention to the speaker to engage in conversation. What would have been overtly rude not too long ago is now commonplace and expected. While we are becoming excellent multi-taskers, able to scan through one thing while entertaining another, we are becoming more and more distracted. Therefore, it is more imperative than it ever was before to maintain focus when focus is due. This is especially true when you are studying intensely for the USMLE Step 1 and 2 CK. Here are nine big mistakes that feel completely innocuous, but when looked at objectively, can definitely hamper your studying.
Dr. Brian Radvansky contributed to this post.
Though the USMLE Step 1 passing score is currently 194, after years of debate, the Invitational Conference on USMLE Scoring (InCUS) announced their long-awaited decision to transition the USMLE Step 1 to only a pass/fail outcome.
Here are the answers to the questions we've received so far regarding the Step 1 scoring change: