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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I and most of my friends have suffered from this syndrome. It's the feeling that you don't remember anything after reading all those piles of books and that huge amount of information and medical knowledge.

It's more common during in the middle of your preparation for your first step whether it's Step 1 or CK. And it's specially common among graduates; particularly old IMG grads.

It might be associated with all sorts of mental and physical symptoms. Frustration is a leading feature. You will start to think that you are not going to pass or you are not going to get that high score that you dream of. You will start jerkily flip through the pages that you've been doing and you'll say Oh My God I just can't remember anything :(:(

Guys, this is absolutely normal.

In fact, it can be a healthy sign!
1) it indicates that you are concerned about the exam and a moderate amount of anxiety is required for top performance.
2) it means that you really read a lot so that your brain is now filled with Zillions of information bits.

Nobody, on the face of earth, can swallow the vast amount of medical knowledge during the course of the entire life of a medical professional person, let alone a few weeks or months of USMLE cramming.

The USMLE question makers are fully aware of this fact and that's why they test you on concepts rather than mere factual info.

How to minimize the impact of the USMLE Forgetfulness Syndrome?

Two things:
First: Read again. Your second reading will solidify your knowledge and will let you inter-correlate the information from various disciplines.
Second: Do questions. As you do your blocks you'll see that in fact you do remember most of the information that you have been reading. This will give you a great sense of comfort and will stimulate you to read more and more.

With regard to the second point above. Keep in mind that USMLE questions are multiple choice questions. So nobody is going to ask you to "write what you know about G receptor signaling pathways or list the 11 criteria of SLE diagnosis" They'll just present you with a problem and a list of solutions to that problem. You'll remember the materials from the list of options (See what Rasheed said about this here). The question itself will trigger your hippocampus and your cortex will do the math.

Rest assured, that whatever you read and whatever knowledge you accumulate in your medical school and the years thereafter will pay off at the exam day and nothing is going to be totally lost and forgotten.


10 Posts
Thank You!

I've been needing to hear this for some time now! I'm an IMG just graduated this passed September and I'm currently reviewing biochem. I'm studing on my own and just wanted to thank you for such an awesome post! :)

Good luck to everyone studing for there STEPs! If you know anyone that is studing please let them know about this Forum! I love it! :happy:

5 Posts
Hey Guys!

This forgetting problem is one of the main reasons we started Gunner Training! See to see how this problem negatively impacts patient care!

Sadly, the forgetting problem not only hurts your exam scores and patients, but also wastes precious time! Think about it: if you review something too early you waste time. If you review it too late you waste even more time because you have to relearn it. If you repeatedly review it right before you forget it you maximize the efficiency of your time AND you enhance the conversion into long-term memory! They have even isolated the protein associated with this "spacing effect" at Cold Spring Harbor lab last year!

To see a presentation our Founder -- Dr. Frank Lau, a plastic surg resident at MGH -- gave at Dartmouth Medical School discussing the problem, check this out:

And, see here for links to relevant research on spaced learning:

Also, I love this thread and would like to give you all a free trial of our Step 1 program. Check out the link below for a free trial and let us know what you think. We have been growing very fast recently (thanks to you guys, no doubt!).
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