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5 Study Tips for the USMLE Step 1

1. Set a goal
As the saying goes, “being begin with the end in mind.” Before you begin preparing for the USMLE Step 1, you should consider where you are with your knowledge base and your score, as well as what your goal target score is. To determine where you are starting from, you should take a practice test. Online prediction calculators use your scores on question banks and the USMLE practice test to estimate how you will do on the actual Step 1 exam.
When setting a goal, consider that 192 is currently the minimum passing score for USMLE Step 1, and 229 was the national average in 2014 (the most recent year for which data is available). However, depending on the specialty into which you desire to match, you may have to aim for a significantly higher score. If you’re not sure what specialty you want to pursue, you’ll want to score as high as possible, though you probably want to do that anyway. This is a table summarizing average USMLE Step 1 scores by specialty in the 2014 Match.

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How to Succeed in Physiology: The Course, Step 1, and Beyond

how to succeed in physiology

Physiology is different! If you’re in the midst of learning physiology, either in a traditional or systems course, you’ve noticed that it feels different from biochemistry and anatomy. There are several reasons. First, the stakes are high, as physiology is inextricably the basis for medicine; learning physiology has long-lasting, downstream consequences for understanding pathophysiology and clinical medicine. And physiology is the underpinning for Step 1, so learning it well in your courses is essential. Second, physiology cannot be memorized (and you’re good memorizers!). Physiology must be understood, and understanding can’t be rushed. You’re learning concepts and principles, rather than isolated facts, and you’re challenged by the hierarchy of concepts, interconnections, and recurring themes. Last and oh so important, you must make peace with graphs, equations, and calculations, since they are the language of physiology. Rather than concede up front that “I don’t do graphs,” it’s best to find a system for translating the mathematical side of physiology into something intuitive that speaks to you!

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