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How can I avoid feeling too drained before I take my exam?

Activity Forums USMLE Step 1 Forum How can I avoid feeling too drained before I take my exam?

This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Avatar Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor 2 years, 3 months ago.

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    As a Step 1 tutor, I am asked about what to do as the exam nears/exam hangover?

    The Step drain is very real. I had it myself and it caused the pretty unpleasant mental hangover for most of my first rotation. I often compare post step feelings to the spectrum of postpartum depression. Most students go through the blues, some into depression and rarely a few sink into a deep depression that can be life-threatening.

    I would advise all who have these feelings to get mental health through your school ASAP, not because you are in any imminent danger (though if you are, do seek help immediately), but because it takes time to build a relationship with someone to work through mental health issues. The earlier you build these bridges and skills, the more helpful they will be.

    A friend once told me that anyone who has a pulse could benefit from therapy.

    Also, pretend you’re a plant for the last week before the exam. Get a healthy amount of good sleep, lots of sun and exercise, and interaction with loved ones. Yogi Berra was once quoted as saying “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.” The same is true of test taking.

    If you have any follow up questions I can help you with on this front, please comment below.

    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
    Reputation: 30
    USMLE ExpertMD or DOContributor

    The plant analogy is a great one – I’d extend this to your entire study period, not just the last week! Studying all day is exhausting. It becomes much less so if you have something to look forward to. I played in an indoor sports league one evening a week during my dedicated time. I took 1-2 afternoons off a week to spend time with friends. I also spent a week studying at home for a change of scene, better food, etc. Study time is limited, but so is study energy. Don’t burn yourself out to the point where you aren’t able to focus during the hours your are spending studying! Maximize the time you have, but breaks can help, not hurt in that goal.

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