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7 Most Common USMLE Step 1 Study Mistakes Students Make

Mistakes are inevitable! Yet, making mistakes is vital to learning and improving. However, it is not always necessary to make your own mistakes to learn something. Learning from other people's mistakes and experiences is the best way to avoid making them yourself.

USMLE Step 1 is an intimidating exam. Preparing for it can cause stress and anxiety, leading many students to make errors. Hence, in this article, we discuss the most common mistakes students make while preparing for USMLE Step 1 and how to avoid them.

1. Using too many different resources:

You have too many resources to choose from. And having to select the right resources can lead to confusion and FOMO (What if the other resource is better for me?) In addition, it can lead you to choose too many resources, which can negatively affect your studies.

Rather than having a surface-level overview of several resources, it is better to use a few resources and study them thoroughly. Similarly, a thorough assessment through ArcherReview Question banks and reading rationales is better than rushing through multiple different question banks.

2. Memorizing over understanding:

USMLE Step 1 will not test how well you remember a sentence you read a month ago. Instead, it determines how well you understand the material you have read. Unfortunately, many students make the mistake of memorizing the facts without first understanding them. This leads them to have low scores on the exam.

USMLE Step1 demands you to combine concepts, apply different fields and manipulate information at a higher level. Moreover, you should be able to connect topics from different sections together. Hence you should focus more on understanding than memorizing.

3. Over or under-reading rationales:

When you are solving question banks, reading through rationales after solving questions is a vital part of improving your weaknesses. But just like anything else, reading explanations too much or too little is terrible! If you spend too little time reviewing rationales, you may not fully understand the topics you got wrong, and if you spend too much time, you may not be able to cover all the subjects.

The trick is to find a balance! For example, do not spend too much time reading the rationales if you immediately give the correct answer to a question and are familiar with the reason behind the answer. Instead, you can use that time to tackle and understand questions that you find challenging. This way, you can understand and cover all the topics within time.

4. Ignoring weaknesses:

Everyone has a topic or a subject that they find challenging. However, the students that get the highest scores are those who tackle their weak areas and understand them. Hence if you want to get a high score on the exam, you, too, need to overcome your weaknesses.

You should spend more time revising the challenging topics rather than giving equal time to all subjects. In addition, you can create flashcards for concepts you don't understand. Then, to familiarize yourself with these concepts, you can review the flashcard deck regularly

5. Not practicing media-based questions:

Audio, video, and image-based questions from a good portion of the USMLE Step 1. If you don't have enough practice, these can be pretty challenging to solve. Therefore, your score may drop if you don't incorporate these questions into your regular reviews

6. Not taking full-length practice assessments before the exam:

When you give the actual exam, you need to be calm and should not get any surprises. Full-length practice tests increase your confidence, help you become familiar with the format and determine how much time you require to complete each section.

These assessments will also help you get a rough idea about the score you may expect to get in the actual exam. This will help you decide if you are ready to give the exam or need more time to prepare. Hence, to get ready for your exam, take as many full-length practice tests as possible.

7. Not taking care of yourself:

Sometimes in the race to achieve our goals, we neglect to check in with ourselves. As a result, many students make the mistake of only focusing on their studies and not giving time for other parts of their lives. Which eventually leads to burnout and a lower score on the exam.

Even though the exam must be a high priority, you must not neglect other parts of your life. To prevent burnout, here are some actions you can take.

  • Decide when you will stop studying for the day, and then plan to do something fun afterward.
  • Take frequent breaks while studying by using the Pomodoro technique.
  • Eat healthily and exercise regularly.
  • Have a fixed time to wake up and go to sleep.

As you now know the most common mistakes, you can smartly avoid them to make your USMLE Step 1 preparation journey smoother. However, knowing how not to prepare is not enough. To succeed on your first attempt, you should also know how to properly study. Hence you should check out our article on how to study for USMLE step 1 or the best ways to study.