fail the USMLE step 1 exam - medsmarter

Stressed out, frustrated, angry, hopeless, depressed – these are just some of the emotions you may be feeling if you have failed your USMLE Step 1 exam. A failure will not doom your medical career. Let’s cover what happens if I fail the USMLE Step 1 Exam?

First things first, don’t panic, and it happens. In every failure, there is a learning opportunity.


Step 1 preparation is a long and arduous process, and it’s super important to let your mind rest and recuperate. 

Jumping right back into a heavy study schedule is a sure way to burn yourself out. Instead, allow yourself some time to clear your thoughts and get back to work.

Identify Your Mistakes

There are plenty of reasons that may have led you to a less-than-desirable score on your Step 1 exam. 

Was your study schedule optimized to your needs? Perhaps you weren’t using your time effectively?

Did you pick the appropriate resources? Did exam anxiety get the best of you? 

These are all factors that can affect our performance. Use your experience to correct and improve your preparation strategy.

Get Help If Needed

Once you figure out what went wrong, it may be worth it to seek advice or help from your professors or other mentors. 

They can guide you on the best way to prepare and even offer personalized assistance for areas of struggle.


Now you’re ready to start fresh. It’s time to make a new study plan based on your performance and make a timeline to which you are sure to stick. 

It’s hard to have confidence in yourself after a failure, but that confidence will grow once again as you get back into studying and answering questions.

Some extra tricks to turn that failure into a success:

  • Time management is most likely where students have the most challenging time. 

It’s tempting to try and study long hours with tons of resources to reference. But instead, make a realistic plan and stick to it as closely as possible. 

Of course, unexpected things always come up, so leave some free days to account for that.

  • Check your performance with regular assessments. 

It is the only way to test how well you know the material and how well your study strategy works for you. When you finish an assessment, switch up your study plan as needed.

Keep your end goal in mind. Getting through the USMLE is no easy task, and your dedication, determination, and efforts will go a long way to help you achieve your goals.

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