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Old 04-30-2013
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Smile Effective study techniques (culled from kaplan qbook)

I am an IMG, graduated 2008. It's been a while since i last had intensive preparation for an exam. The USMLE presents an exam format that quite often will require a prospective candidate to modify existing study and test-taking techniques and even acquire new ones sometimes. I am one of such candidates, and below are some study techniques i am imbibing

1. Study for 1-1.5hrs at a stretch and take scheduled breaks of about 15mins in between stretches. This aids transfer of information from your short term to long term memory (from your RAM to ROM )

2. Focus more on high yield material. Group them in three
a. those you need to know extremely well
b. those you need to know pretty well
c. those you may know if time permits
Focus your mental and physical energy accordingly. This will prepare you adequately for the most frequently tested concepts and enable you reach/surpass your desired score

3. For each new topic first scan through, then create study objectives, then study with the aim of achieving these objectives. This will ensure the most effective use of your limited time and resources

4. Always discover and learn the central/core concept in each topic. Try to make connections with other concepts. Discover/learn/establish patterns cross-linking concepts. This will aid recall tremenduously

5. Use visual aids, concept maps (see Qbook for description), diagrams copiously. These are powerful tools that ensure recall.

6. Imagine/visualise/mentally experience concepts learned. This is the most powerful tool for recall.

7. Do as many tests as you can. This will help you in the following ways:
a. you master success-ensuring strategies in approaching questions
b. the patterns in which questions are presented and constructed as well as most frequently tested concepts become familiar to you like the back of your hand. You own them.
c. it guides you to knowing when you are test-ready

I am very open to more ideas.
Wish you great success in your exam.
May God help us all.
"You can go anywhere you want to by taking one step at a time in the right direction".
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Old 04-30-2013
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I find test-taking skill mostly a function of reading comprehension, especially that last sentence. What is the question asking for?

You don't really need study breaks because your mind automatically slows down when it is tired, or urges you to surf random web pages or eat a snack or something. You need study breaks but you don't need to force yourself to have them. It should be automatic when you are tired.

There are plenty of people who never read First Aid and get 260. All they do are practice problems. So much of the test is pattern recognition.

Studying for the Step 1 is like playing a video game. Just have fun with high yield material and jump into doing practice problems as soon as possible. There is no need to do anything that is not fun in order to do well on this exam. Right now I am having more fun studying 15 hours a day than I ever did playing Starcraft, DOTA, Counterstrike, etc.
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Old 04-30-2013
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after spending much time on low yeild books (lippincot biochem - which i'm still mad about), and also robbins path, i realize that i have wasted a lot of time. but i guess that was a learning experience.

i have been using a system with kaplan which has proved to be pretty good actually. it takes time, and commitment, but it's generally been working quite well.

1) first scan through chapter of whatever kaplan book i'm using.

2) the go back to the beginning, re-read it, and then using a plain paper, i re-word the lecture notes using my own words and diagrams that i draw/write on the papers (i use only pencil and a green pen)

3) i staple the papers together to form a mini-book. i then start the video lectures, and using a RED PEN, i fill in any blanks on my own notes.

4) after that, i now have my own papers which i am well aware of, and can reference at any time, and go over them whenever i need a memory jog.

5) repeat that for all the subjects except for Micro and Path (using CMMRS and Pathoma instead)

If i get bored of new material, i then go back and look at my own notes, and start mentally building concepts.

but the real learning starts once i go through FA, and check off things from that book, and then start USMLE WORLD.

So far, this method is a MILLION TIMES better than my previous strategy of using ridiculously long books to try cram in everything. it's just not humanly feasable or practical to use books like lippincot biochem the way i was before.

hope this system helps others. yes, it's time consuming though. but once you have the completed set of notes (in pencil, green pen, and red pen form), it's MUCH MUCH easier, and more condensed when doing a second read (instead of going back to the actual kaplan books).

hope that helps.
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