The reason I am writing this is because I have been in your shoes. I have known the feeling of being told the importance of an exam and having absolutely no idea where to start. Okay, that was a lie, everyone knows to start with First Aid, but it’s only one small but important piece of the puzzle. My journey was long, difficult, turbulent, but also challenging, rewarding, and undoubtedly one of the defining goljan high yield notes 100 pages pdf of my medical school career.
However, it definitely could have been helped with some wise words, advice, and encouragement from someone who was formerly in my shoes as an MS2. Step 1 is an important test. You’ve heard it before a hundred times and you will hear it a hundred more times before MS3 begins. Advice from upperclassmen also says Step 2 is slightly less important and Step 3 even more so. What I was hearing was that Step 1 might be the last opportunity in my life where doing well on an exam has a profound impact on my future. Like how the SATs opened doors for colleges and the MCAT opened doors for medical school, Step 1 sounded like the last key to the last and most important door—residency.
Here is where I’d like to give you the right frame of mind. Know that I am not a student where concepts come naturally and facts linger for days in my mind. I’m of normal intelligence but try to work as hard as I can. I need repetition to retain information. I need the same information from multiple sources. I have also never been a gifted standardized test taker, but that was something I tried to change for Step 1.
At first I wondered, could this be changed at all? After hearing advice from upperclassmen about doing lots of practice questions, I sought to do as many practice questions as possible. So many that by the time of my exam I would know there was nothing more I could have done to prepare myself. For a moment, let’s appreciate the unique opportunity that is Step 1. Step 1 is truly the last time where you are given a very extended period of time to focus on a single thing. You have no other responsibilities except to study for this one test.
In MS3 and MS4 and in residency, you’ll be pushed and pulled 10 different ways, keeping track of 20 patients, notes you haven’t written, putting together a presentation, etc. Right now in MS2 you have a single job and that is to study for this test. Not only that, you can pretty much decide your own schedule each and every day. You can wake up when you want, you can exercise when you want, eat when you want. Your entire life is in your control, and it is this way so that you can place yourself in optimum studying conditions for this exam. During these next several months you can ask any question you have and professors will be happy to answer them. You don’t have to be judged for not knowing an answer.
In fact it is your job to ask as many questions as possible and not be afraid of any repercussions or implications. You are truly on a several month-long journey to pursue knowledge. Here is the very first step of studying for Step 1. It is not impossible to score well on Step 1 with a modest amount of work. Do your research into what fields you believe you have a chance of being interested in.