It doesn’t matter if you’re in high school, university, medical school, or even if you’re completing your residency. Exams can always make you jittery and anxious. Let’s cover tips to prepare for an exam in medical school.
In medical school, exams usually fall into the following categories:
1. Pre-Clinical Exams:
These exams are theoretical in nature, and you are tested subjectively for subjects like anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, etc.)
2. Clinical Exams:
Clinical exams focus on your clinical rotations and ability to identify, diagnose, and successfully treat the ailment using your theoretical knowledge in a practical situation.
The first 2 years consist of coursework that is divided into “blocks.” After each topic-specific block, students take a final exam. All examinations are conducted in one week, dedicated explicitly to the exams.
USMLE Step 1 Exam:
This is a one-day, 8-hour examination. Typically, most US Medical School students take this exam at the end of their second year (M2) after covering all the pre-clinical subjects.
USMLE Step 2 Exam:
This is a one-day, 9-hour exam conducted in the fourth year.
Here are 9 tips to help ace your exams:
1. Always know your curriculum:
Many students may misunderstand this tip and assume that it’s all about knowing what you have been taught.
This misconception is where most students go wrong; it’s more about knowing what you have to study to perform exceptionally well.
Always study your actual curriculum and make a list of the high-yield topics. This list will always come in handy in the few days before your exam.
2. Manage your stress:
Medical students are prone to excessive stress due to the insane workload and the enormous syllabus. Managing your stress levels is crucial to maintaining your productivity.
3. Maintain a strict study schedule:
Medical students have a stressful schedule of clinical rotations, practical classes, theory lectures, and examinations.
Students need to maintain a strict study schedule and follow it religiously to keep up with their self-study.
4. Make clear and concise notes:
Get into the habit of making notes from the first year itself. Consulting various textbooks and resources at the last moment can be very stressful. Having your notes made by compiling information from all the relevant resources can be a lifesaver when you have to study selectively for your exam.
5. Active recalling and strategic repetition:
Studying and reading can only add up to the desired result if you force your brain to retain the relevant information.
Regularly recalling the material you have learned and re-reading your notes after regularly spaced intervals can help you retain the information for the required period.
6. Always know your learning style:
No two students have the same learning style. It would be best to make it a habit to identify the best study method for you and stick to that.
7. Know when to stop:
Studying for long stretches seems to be productive, but it isn’t. It’s just a surefire way to burn out.
Always take short breaks between your studying to give your mind and body some rest.
8. Do not compromise on sleep:
To complete their revision, most medical students avoid sleeping, and eventually, this proves to be harmful. Skipping on your sleep may seem like a good idea, but you’re just reading, and your brain isn’t retaining any information after a certain limit.
A well-rested sleep is required to keep the brain refreshed, which helps retain information.
9. Quality over quantity:
In any year of medical school, the syllabus is too vast to remember every detail.
Work on critical and high-yield topics instead of wasting your time and energy studying minute facts that are unlikely to be tested.
To summarise, it is imperative to know the topics which will surely help you perform well in your exams. Cramming isn’t going to help you retain a vast amount of information. You have to understand the topics and concepts, then be able to recall them.
Remember that each student is different, and the revision techniques are suitable for them.
Take your time and figure out what works for you.
Lastly, always believe in yourself and your efforts. We’re sure that you’ll make an excellent physician!
If you need help planning your study or preparing for your Steps, why not schedule a conversation to discuss your specific needs