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Old 11-21-2010
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Star Biggest Mistakes in USMLE Prep and the three phases

Biggest Mistake in USMLE Prep

One of the biggest mistakes people make in prepping for the USMLE is underestimating the time it takes to finish the prep. It seems a lot of people start their USMLE prep by opening a book and then start reading. They have no estimate on how fast they have to go in order to finish the whole prep in the time they originally allotted for it.
Proper scheduling is very important in order to do well in the USMLE exam. The main reason is that after studying for some time, you will burn out. Your rate of learning will slow down while your rate of forgetting remain constant. This is called plateauing. When your rate of learning becomes slower than your rate of forgetting, you go into decline. And for most people optimum review time is 6 to 8 months.
Therefore it is very important to understand the steps we need to go through in order to prepare properly for the USMLE Step 1. This is a very long topic and it will take a series of post to cover everything.
Three Phases in USMLE Prep

There are three important phases in prepping for the USMLE exam
  • Learning Phase: This is where you learn all the medical concepts tested in the USMLE. You cannot review what you do not know, you cannot master what you have not learned. At this stage the best resource to use are textbooks and lectures.
  • Mastery Phase: This is where you try to memorize medical concepts tested in the USMLE in the right level of detail needed for the USMLE exam. You also need to make sure that you can recall them in a timely manner. The best resources to use are reviewers, study notes and flashcards.
  • Test Preparation Phase: This is where you learn how to take USMLE type examination. The USMLE exam is unique in many aspects and you need to make sure you are ready to take this type of examination. The best resource to use is still online qbanks
It is very important to do the three phases in order as one phase builds on the other. Problems in the Learning phase affects Mastery and Test Preparation Phase. Problems in Mastery phase will affect Test Preparation phase. It is also important to use the proper resource for each phase as they are optimized for use in fulfilling the objective of each phase.
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Old 11-21-2010
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These are very good points. By trying to hurry this process one can find oneself in a real jam. I personally, for example, do need deadlines to push myself, but through medscool and through the USMLE process you learn to set realistic deadlines for yourself that you can meet. Sometimes you learn the hard way...
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