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Memorizing the Small Details

Activity Forums USMLE Step 1 Forum Memorizing the Small Details

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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    The quantity of material covered in Step 1 is overwhelming, to say the very least. If the big picture diseases and pathology wasn’t enough, there is endless physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, and every other -ology out there to go through. A lot of the pathophysiology is relatively easier to review, if only because after doing a certain number of questions, you begin to develop pattern recognition for common diseases and more frequently tested processes. However, this is a lot more challenging with what I like to call “pure fact recall.”

    A lot of people use Anki for memorization, which has its own pros and cons, discussed elsewhere in this forum. The number of cards in most of the Anki decks can be very overwhelming, and hard to get through the smaller/less memorable details in a meaningful way.

    One strategy I like to suggest to my students is to keep a list of “memorization pages” to save for the week before the exam. There are some facts that just would not stick in my head in the weeks preceding the exam, that I knew I would have to drill into my head at some point before test day. So I personally kept a list of 10-20 pages (including all the interleukins, the lysosomal storage diseases, transfusion reactions…) that I would review once a week preceding test day, and then really focus on memorizing in the one week before. I’ve had a number of my students do this as well, and though it is not as “high yield” as some of the other strategies, it can be very helpful for people trying to bump their scores a little higher!

    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    USMLE ExpertMD or DOContributor

    Great strategy for breaking into those higher scores – I did this as well when studying, marking FA pages with sticky notes. I also found that folks had transformed some of those tables full of data into Sporcle quizzes (a free online quiz platform), which I found helpful. ( )

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