Excellent Tips To Help You Get The Best Scores in USMLE Step Exams

      The most important strong point for IMGs applying for residency is having good scores in all the steps. Step 1 and Step 2 are the most important. Here we put some very important points that will help you get good scores. Ofcourse, each person is different and you should individualize the circumstances. These following principles help almost everyone.

    • Start preparation as early as possible. For IMGs, at least obtain all the kaplan books and start reading after your first MBBS.
    • Start with Kaplan books. Finish one reading first relatively FAST even though you don’t remember everything. This will make you get a feel of what material is all about, how much you can remember, how to plan in future to remember all that stuff.
    • Do Qbank questions randomly so you don’t get bored. Read explanations and remember as much as possible. Idea is to remember as much as possible whatever  you read.
    • Read repeatedly. Plan for 5 times. The more number of times you read, the more you remember.
    • Set a Target for the day and Reward Yourself Daily: When you wake up, set a goal for reading. I used to say to myself “I should read 70 pages today and if I can do it, I will buy a nice dinner at restaurant for myself” It worked for me. It can be anything. You can say, “I will go for a nice movie if I finish my reading for today” etc.
    • Don’t waste time. It’s ok not to attend some social events. You have an entire life after these exams you can spend time for fun.
    • Don’t waste too much time on internet. Too much time is wasted in internet these days with too much unnecessary information.
    • Don’t just blindly follow others’ way of preparation. You will win if you are able to individualize the preparation for yourself.
    • Study partners are good especially for step 2 cs. Make sure their exam date is nearer to yours. I had study partner only for step 2 cs and it was the best thing I did. It gives a lot of practice in terms of counselling and English practice for people from countries where English is not spoken that much.
    • Remember even the pictures given in Kaplan. I answered couple of questions correctly by remembering pics given in Kaplan books.
    • Put focus on one step at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed by thinking about all the steps at one time.
    • Finish at least step 1 and 2 before looking into research, observerships, MPH/MBA or such things.
    • Stick to one best series of books and one Qbank. Read them repeatedly as many times as possible. If you are thorough with kaplan books, most of the material from FA is covered already. Talk to those who took step recently to get an idea of what books you should read.
    • Visit your place of worship to give you blessings and moral support.
    • Motivate yourself. Find ways to motivate yourself. Think of good stuff you get if you get into residency like money, dream car, attractive spouse, etc. Do not depend on others for giving you  motivation.
  • Talk to people who take exam recently. Get some ideas with regards to books, study plan, so you feel comfortable and prevent anxiety.
  • Remember the most common lab values so you save time by not having to search for normal lab values during the test.
  • Do not socialize too much at your place of study. You can always gain more friends later. Do talk to the person who took the test recently though.
  • Relax several times during the day. Mental and physical peace helps you remember stuff well. Do not get into fights or arguments (I don’t think anyone does it, but just thought of throwing the point here) with anyone even on internet.
  • Don’t be in a rush to take steps. You need 6 months for step 1 and at least 4 months for step 2, being an IMG. Of course, there are exceptions.
  • Never take step 2 prior to step 1. Take them in their order to get the best possible scores. The first step material helps in second step. The step 2 CK material knowledge helps in USMLE Step 3 [This is very important].  Taking step 2 CK may either result in getting less scores than you would otherwise get if taken in order or it may delay finishing all the steps quickly.
  • If you are bored reading sitting at one place, just move to a different place. I used to read at home, in school, in library, under a tree outside in my university or at nearby McDonald’s etc. It is fun to do that way, at least I loved it.
  • Be healthy. Maintain some clean habits. Sleep well for 7-8 hrs a day. Eat better especially when exam date is nearby.
  • Read the last sentence in all the questions which are longer first before reading the rest of the question.  This will help you which info given in the question to focus on. Sometimes, you may have to skip some extremely difficult or looooooong questions to save time. With these questions you just answer randomly and try to come back to them after finishing the block if you still have some time left. Never leave any question unanswered.
  • Take break after each block to keep you physically comfortable. Dress up well for exam with clothes you will be comfortable for the whole day.
  • The whole key to doing these steps well is your short term memory. I don’t remember most of the material I read while taking steps. To empower your short term memory, you should be able to do a quick revision with in a few days prior to your exam. To do this you have to make a lot of your own mnemonics, read repeatedly, remember the pages, discuss difficult topics, etc.