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Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor

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  • in reply to: What Does Step 1 Being Pass/Fail Mean for Me? #323
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    Great points, Sana! Step 2 also might take on new importance, for better or worse, and while Step 1 prep isn’t always directly translatable to Step 2 prep, I would also say they aren’t entirely unconnected, and really getting a good handle on pathophysiology during Step 1 studying can help with Step 2.

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    in reply to: The 2 Golden Rules of Studying Step 1 During COVID #321
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    Great points, David! To your last bit about mental health, I would say many of our other posts speak to this, but I would just add that during long-term studying without a clear end date, building time off into a study schedule becomes extra important. You are much more likely to stay motivated and focused for 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, than to try and stay motivated and focused for 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. Make some time for exercise, eating well, seeing family and friends (in a socially distanced, safe way), etc.

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    in reply to: How will COVID-19 affect USMLE testing? #301
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    – Step 1 content changes (increase in communication questions) pushed back until at least 6/1 ( https://www.usmle.org/announcements/?ContentId=271 )
    – Prometric randomly canceling testing dates, presumably to be able to enforce social distancing within testing centers upon re-opening
    – USMLE has said they are “exploring remote proctoring, delivery at alternate sites (including medical schools), and additional solutions to address testing backlog and capacity restraints”, and that exploration will finish at end of June with scaling of solutions in July
    – In the same announcement, USMLE noted willingness to work with regulators around graduation requirements: “Some solutions may involve temporary changes to policy and/or requirements, e.g., relaxing requirements for promotion, graduation, or licensing decisions.”

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    in reply to: How will COVID-19 affect USMLE testing? #297
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    USMLE claims testing will resume on May 1
    – Prometric pushed back date of re-openign to May 31 (from May 1) with the following language: “We have determined it is necessary to further extend the closure of test centers in the U.S. and Canada through May 31st. This applies to all testing programs, with the exception of a limited set of essential services programs.” ( https://www.prometric.com/corona-virus-update )
    – USMLE tweeted that they are “essential” and therefore will reopen on May 1 ( https://twitter.com/TheUSMLE/status/1253373119458353152 https://usmle.org/announcements/?ContentId=272 ); more info hopefully to come

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    in reply to: How will COVID-19 affect USMLE testing? #296
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    – Step 2 CS suspension to continue through May 31st
    – Prometrics to remain closed through May 1; no word yet on pushing changes to Step 1 (increased communication questions) back from May 4th, but seems likely

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    in reply to: How will COVID-19 affect USMLE testing? #293
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    USMLE has acknowledged that, if testing suspension is extended beyond April at most Prometric centers in US and Canada, the date of increasing the number of “communications” questions maybe be pushed back from the current plan of May 4 (https://www.usmle.org/announcements/?ContentId=256 , https://www.usmle.org/frequently-asked-questions/#covid19 Item 15)

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    in reply to: How will COVID-19 affect USMLE testing? #291
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    One more bit of news:
    – Prometric updated their overall statement. https://www.prometric.com/corona-virus-update Despite acknowledging that federal social distancing guidelines now extend through 4/30, Prometric says: “As previously announced in March, Prometric made the difficult decision to temporarily close all of its test center locations in the US and Canada through April 15th with an anticipated resumption of testing effective April 16th. At this time, there is no deviation from this planned resumption of operations.” They promise some changes to the operation when it reopens, but the only specifics are that candidates will be allowed to wear masks and gloves.

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    in reply to: How will COVID-19 affect USMLE testing? #290
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    A few updates:
    – Federal guidelines encouraging social distancing through at least 4/30 means any CS dates and Prometric closures are likely to be extended until at least that time, but these changes have not happened yet. Some Prometric centers in states where shelter in place orders already extend beyond mid April do have updated closure status. Updated prometric site specific closure dates can be found here: https://www.prometric.com/closures
    – USMLE is automatically extending all unexpired eligibility periods to December 2020
    – USMLE now has a COVID-19 page where info and FAQs are being collected: https://www.usmle.org/frequently-asked-questions/#covid19
    – NBME is making “retired” exams re-available for free with answer explanations, which students may find helpful to use in the setting of unexpectedly prolonged dedicated time. For Step 1, these are NBMEs 13, 15, 16, 17, and 19. They will become available on 4/3: https://www.nbme.org/news/free-nbmer-self-assessments-and-answer-explanations-available-april

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    in reply to: How Do I Use UWorld? #264
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    I’m not sure I totally understand. Is the question: once you have annotated a chapter, when you cycle back to review that chapter, should you just read your annotations or both the original content and your annotations?

    If so, here is my take: After a first pass through all of the FA material, each subsequent pass should be increasingly focused on the areas you are struggling with, and should be increasingly geared towards “studying” rather than “reading”. What I mean by this is, if you are doing questions daily, by the time you get back to the endocrine chapter in a week or two, you should have a good sense of which pieces you are getting wrong in questions and which pieces you have a good handle on. It is okay to skim over the areas you feel good about, and dive into the areas that are giving you trouble, doing flashcards, quizzing yourself, doing focused question sets, etc. to hammer those pieces home. For those problem areas, it will definitely be worth spending time on both the original content and your annotations. For the other areas, using your annotations to remind you about aspects of the original content might be sufficient. Try to be honest with yourself about how comfortable you are with each piece of the material.

    Please let us know if this doesn’t answer your question!

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    in reply to: Anki during dedicated period. #263
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    I think this is a particular area where each person has their own take, and what works for one student might work less well for another. Check out some of our other Anki posts for more info:

    Do I Have to Use Anki?

    I don't love flashcards – are they necessary?

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    in reply to: How to Study Diagnostic Imaging #262
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    This is awesome, Sana! I love Radiopaedia for a lot of things, but these dynamic, labeled scans are particularly helpful for reviewing and quizzing yourself on normal anatomy in radiology images https://radiopaedia.org/articles/labelled-imaging-anatomy-cases?lang=us

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    in reply to: USMLE Step 1 Pass/Fail Decision #250
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    I agree with Sana and David. I think it’s also worth noting that all we have so far is an “earliest” date of 2022…given the logistics that still remain to be ironed out for this transition, I could definitely see that date getting pushed back. Another reason to not plan a medical school application timeline around the changes.
    Of course, there are lots of other good reasons to take some time off before medical school – bolstering your application, sure, but also making sure its the right path for you.
    @student-soma, I haven’t personally heard that rumor, but we’re all sort of guessing until we hear more from USMLE. Here’s a summary of what we know so far: https://www.medschooltutors.com/blog/decoding-the-usmle-step-1-pass-fail-decision

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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    We’ve all got different takes on this, and as David said, 100% dependent on you and how you learn best.

    Here’s another approach if you’ve got the time for it:
    Do random, 40q, timed blocks from the beginning (these won’t go great at the start – that’s okay). This way you get used to the format, the timing, you start to build connections between topics, and you can use your performance to track progress.
    As you review material, do blocks of incorrect questions pertaining to that block for a deep dive. E.g. by the time you hit cardio, if you’ve done some random blocks you’ll have a chunk of cardio incorrects to work through.

    I think going through once, and then going through again only looking at incorrects is sort of based on a false presumption that you knew the questions you got right really well and that you had no idea on the questions you got wrong. If you have two questions you are fifty-fifty on, and on one you guess right and the other you guess wrong, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to just re-review one of the two down the line.

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    in reply to: How can I avoid feeling too drained before I take my exam? #238
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    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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    in reply to: What would be an ideal Step 1 schedule and study plan? #237
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    Love it. I’ve found that for myself, and for many of my students, a reasonable rate for reading FA (which you should only really do once – afterwards it should be more about studying FA, e.g. covering parts up or using Anki to actively test yourself on your weaker areas) is about 12 pages per hour. This means it can take a good chunk of time (3-4 hours) to get through an FA chapter, but it shouldn’t take more than 1-2 days (with the other study resources you are integrating in). I prefer doing cycles, so 1-2 days on each topic over 2 weeks, then go back and do another 1-2 days on each topic for another 2 weeks, etc. If you’re also doing random question blocks throughout, this iterative process allows you to build, connect, and solidify knowledge in a helpful way.

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