4 Handy Tips To Crack USMLE Exam

United State Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) is an examination for medical licensure in the U.S.A.

This three step examination evaluates students on two parameters: understanding of concepts and the ability to apply them practically.

Therefore, a candidate has to work on all theoretical and practical skills.

Lets look at some tricks. These tricks can be an important aspect of your preparation strategy.

4 Handy Tips For USMLE Aspirants

Here are 10 tips that can help you pass the exam with flying colors.

1. Be Focussed

Do not memorize but understand concepts clearly.

Give time to clearing concepts. Try to understand what you do not.

This will improve your accuracy and reduce further revision time.

Also, its an unavoidable requirement. Application based questions and the Clinical Studies test of step 2 depend on it.

Regardless of how perfect a strategy is, preparation demands time.

Study for at least 10 hours a day with undivided attention.

Think like a doctor. Do not restrict to subjects. Work on integration of concepts across subjects. Think of their applications in real life situations. 

2. Understand Exam Pattern And Structure 

Understanding the exam pattern and structure is necessary.

The USMLE is a three step examination.

Step 1 

It is a computer based exam that consists of MCQs.

It is an 8 hour exam and is divided into seven 60-minute blocks.

Number of questions may vary from block to block. But only in rare cases does any block exceed 40 questions.

Therefore, the total number of questions cannot be more than 280.

Syllabus includes a variety of subjects.These include anatomy, behavioral sciences, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, physiology, and interdisciplinary topics, such as nutrition, genetics, and aging.

Step 2 

This step is divided into two tests. Clinical Knowledge(CK) and Clinical Studies(CS).

CK is a nine hour computer based exam. It is divided into 8 blocks. Duration of each block is approximately 60 minutes. There are 318 questions in total.

CS is approximately an eight hour practical test. Here, candidates have to to look after standardized patients. This is a demonstration of how they would behave as a doctor.

In addition to treatment, the way candidates behave with patients and handle sensitive situations is also evaluated.

Step 3

This is the last stage of the exam. It is a two day computer based test. 

It includes application based questions and patient case studies.

3. Stages Of Preparation 

A strategy will become ineffective after a particular level of preparation has been achieved.

Change your strategy periodically. You need to work on everything. 

Your strategies should ideally evolve according to the following guidelines.

Stage 1. 

Give more time to learning and understanding concepts than to solving questions.

Unless your knowledge reaches a basic level, solving questions cannot give good results. But, do not avoid it completely. Both these things go hand in hand.

Stage 2 

Now that you have basic knowledge, give more time to questions and less to learning further. 

Do not avoid learning. Unclear and unknown concepts still exist.

Practicing questions would give you clarity of concepts and better accuracy. Check solutions  even if your answers are correct. Understand alternate solutions. They might be easier and faster.

Stage 3 

Understanding questions is extremely important. Try to understand and then solve. 

Take your time. Do not compromise accuracy for time.

Stage 4.

By now, you will have a clear idea about concepts and techniques used to solve tricky questions.

Try to do it faster. Track the time taken for each question and give mock tests regularly.

(Note:Practice an entire block. Do not practice subject wise questions. Questions arent asked subject wise. You need practice to be able to change zones within seconds. )

Keep on changing your strategies according to the stages you cross. 

4. Steps To Clear Concepts 

Concept clarity is an important key to crack the USMLE exam.

Following 4 steps can take you to perfection –

1. Listen

Listening to professors during graduation classes is important. It helps you be consistent.

Listen to people in seminars and in conferences. Asking questions and getting answers enhances your thinking ability and knowledge base. 

2. Watch

What we see leaves a mark on our memory. 

Watch videos provided by classes, if you take any.  

Look for videos that explain concepts and theories you read recently.

Try to understand diagrams and graphics.

3. Write

Making notes is always helpful. It makes the concept more clear.

Also, it is a faster way to go through the topic once again. 

4. Revise 

Forgetting one thing after learning the other is human tendency.

Therefore, keep coming back to the topics that you have covered.

Each attempt to study a particular topic will take less time as compared to the previous one. Also, it will give more clarity. 

The best combination of all these elements isnt standardized. Make your own strategy rather than following somebody else. 

Your level of clarity over concepts, your ability to observe and grasp things depends only on you. You know it better than anyone else.

4. Make Correct Choices 

Hard work is important,so is smart work.
Following are 4 important choices that can embellish your hard work:

1. Correct Choice Of Questions

All questions are of equal marks. Know what to leave in order to succeed. Your marks do not contain details of questions that you have or havent answered.

2. Choice Of Diet

At least from a month before your exam, consume less caffeine.Take a lot of protein, water and carbohydrates.Take adequate sleep.

3. Competition

Dont focus on competition. It is irrelevant. You qualify on the basis of scores, not on the basis of ranks.

4. Chronology

People who have recently completed their internship might feel like taking step 2 first.

It is advised that they should not. There are more things you need to study.

We hope that these tips will help you crack the USMLE exams.

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