Study Tips

Studying for the Psychiatry Shelf Exam

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By Ravish Amin

Preparing well for the psychiatry shelf exam requires studying multiple resources such as board review books, reference texts (for reading up on your patients’ specific conditions), and practice questions from USMLE-Rx.com to master core concepts. Psychopharmacology is essential high-yield content for shelf exams. Most common psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, dementia, depression, psychosis, and delirium, are learned by a multifaceted approach. Reading, doing practice questions, studying board review books, and (perhaps most importantly) developing interview techniques to obtain relevant information from your patients will help you excel on your psych rotation.

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Studying for Surgery Shelf Exams

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By Ravish Amin

Surgical education today includes a combination of anatomy, physiology, pathology, and procedures that are increasingly taught to students using integrative technology.

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What’s the Best Way to Study for the Internal Medicine Shelf Exam

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By Ravish Amin

The internal medicine shelf exam is the most important exam for medical students because it tests your knowledge of the most common medical concepts encountered on rotations such as cardiology, gastroenterology, hematology/oncology, rheumatology, pulmonology, neurology, nephrology, infectious diseases, endocrinology, and primary care medicine. These subjects obviously form a majority of questions and answers on shelf exams, but it’s important to develop core strengths in subjects most interesting to you by devoting extra effort and time to details that could increase scores. While it’s nearly impossible to predict what combination of questions your shelf exam will include, implementing the following study methods may help you get started, and with enough review, prepare you for the shelf exam.

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Best Way to Study for the Family Medicine Shelf Exam

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By Ravish Amin

Are you in the beginning stages of preparing for the family medicine shelf exam? What patients did you see on rotations? Do you have the right books and core knowledge? This blog post will review important tips and study methods designed to help you ace the family medicine shelf.

It’s important on the family medicine rotation to familiarize yourself with the broad topics you may encounter on the shelf exam. Personally, I found it very useful to create my own clinical case vignettes while diagnosing patients on rotations in the outpatient clinic.

Often, the family medicine shelf has subspecialty topics such as migraines, dermatology, physical medicine, and rehabilitation, which may all be incorporated into your core family medicine rotations.

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Annotation Nation

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By Tim Durso

Annotation NationOne of the greatest challenges in studying for Step 1 is deciding what information is worth trying to remember. In an ideal world, you’d be able to memorize every bit of information you come across the first two years of med school, but if you could do that you’d be playing blackjack in Las Vegas with Tom Cruise instead of cramming your brain full of lysosomal storage diseases (that’s a Rain Man reference for those less movie-inclined). One of the best ways to machete your way through the thicket of medical knowledge out there is to annotate your handy-dandy version of First Aid (see here for the latest and greatest version).

While everyone agrees that annotation is an essential part of the sacred rite that is Step 1 studying, everyone seems to have a different approach. I’m going to try to help analyze some of these different approaches, and hopefully you’ll come away with a better understanding of what might work for you in your preparation. To accomplish this, I’m going to borrow elements from the famous children’s tale of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” If you haven’t heard of this story, call your parents and ask them why, and then Google it before reading further. (more…)

Start Early and Do Lots of Questions: Acing COMLEX and USMLE Prep

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By Ryan Nguyen

Many osteopathic medical students at the beginning of their second year struggle to come up with a game-plan to prepare for the COMLEX Level 1 and USMLE Step 1. With a disturbing number of resources and study plans to choose from, how can students determine what strategy will maximize their board scores?

Early in my second year, I scoured the depths of the internet pouring over the study schedules and tips of past test takers. I was looking for “the one,” a study schedule that would get me the scores of my dreams. The dirty secret to success? There was no one study plan that triumphs above all. While they all varied in their day-to-day plans, study plans from top scorers all echoed the same two principles: start preparation early and do lots and lots of practice questions.

This post is dedicated to when to start preparing and how many practice questions to do. (more…)

Study Timing: How Soon Is Too Soon?

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By Tim Durso

Study Timing - How Soon Is Too SoonThere’s one age old question that inevitably creeps into the forefront of the (admittedly neurotic) mind of many medical students during the pre-clinical years:

“When should I start studying for Step 1?”

For a question that seems so universal, the answer is far from it. I’ll give you my perspective on the issue, and granted it it’s a sample size of one (great time to review study power in your handy-dandy copy of First Aid), but it’s a strategy that put me in a position to exceed even my own expectations on test day. (more…)

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