Five Biggest Mistakes Students Make With USMLE World
At Med School Tutors, we rely heavily on USMLE World in our work with students. Over the last five years, UWorld has become widely recognized as the gold standard Qbank for all steps of the USMLE. This is due primarily to the quality of its questions and rigor of its explanations. UWorld content is updated throughout the year, which keeps the Qbank incredibly current in the changing world of medicine and medical testing. Students who use UWorld achieve consistently top-flight results, but where do they go wrong? What are potential pitfalls that 2nd year students should make sure to avoid in their own prep? We've identified the 5 biggest mistakes that med students tend to make with UWorld.
1. Not starting USMLE World early enough
Many students come to us concerned about starting questions too early. They say they're not ready to tackle a Qbank as difficult as USMLE World. They would prefer to start with an easier Qbank or focus more on reading. This is a mistake! Step 1 is a question based exam. Therefore, the best approach to studying is to incorporate questions early and often. Even if you have not finished all of the material five months before your exam, there will certainly be some content you've covered. For example, if you've already had your immunology course, do some immuno questions! If you've learned biochemistry, create a few short biochemistry sets from UWorld! Attempting difficult questions is a great way to focus your studying and highlight areas of deficiency. Additionally, you might want to do questions on the topics you're learning in coursework. During your heme block 2nd year, do some heme questions. Remember that you can customize your question sets based on discipline. You can focus on heme pathology or heme pharmacology, if that is what your course is covering. No need to deal with biostats or biochem during a heme pathophys block. The earlier you expose yourself to difficult case vignettes, the more efficient your question-based studying will be later on.
2. Not spending enough time reading explanations in USMLE World
This may be one of the biggest and most damaging mistakes med students make when utilizing Qbanks. 240+ scorers know that the true value of UWorld lies in its high-quality explanations. The questions are prompts. They are vehicles for practicing the pattern recognition, clinical reasoning, and test-taking skills that we need to score high on the USMLE. However, doing the questions alone and skimming the explanations is NOT enough to achieve mastery of the material. Top scorers understand that UWorld is best used as a learning tool, and most of the learning happens when reviewing explanations—especially the incorrects. If there are 5 answer choices and only 1 correct answer, 80% of the content will focus on the incorrect answers. We must read all of the explanations—every word—to get the most out of the question. Does this take time? Absolutely! Students come to us and say, "I'm spending too much time on UWorld sets. It's taking me forever to review my blocks." We say, "No you're not. That's how we learn." Med School Tutors has found that students should spend 2-3X as long reviewing explanations as completing sets. This review includes looking up content in HY resources and making flashcards. Don't skimp on question review!