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How to Manage Stress Levels While Preparing for USMLE Step 1?

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Studying for USMLE step 1 might be one of the most challenging experiences you might have to deal with while in medical school. It’s a crucial exam that goes a long way in determining your chances of matching into residency, so you are under a lot of pressure to record the best performance possible. You find many students exerting themselves mentally and emotionally to study until it reaches a point that they are only doing more harm than good to their score. While you are trying as much as possible to achieve success in your USMLE step 1, you cannot neglect your mental wellbeing.

The better care you take for yourself, the higher the chances of doing well on this all-important exam. You may want to incorporate the best usmle step 1 resources into your studying routine but be careful not to overwork yourself reading. If you are looking for the best way to manage stress levels as you prepare for the exam, you have come to the right place. In this post, we’ll be sharing the best way to maintain your mental health while preparing for such a demanding exam like USMLE step 1. Take a look!

Look for a support system

Studying for USMLE step 1 is a daunting task and takes a lot from students. Don’t be surprised if you scored a 30% on your Uworld block when you had just scored an 80% the previous day. It is a challenging course to take on, so you need someone you can vent to, be it your mom, boyfriend or classmate. Find someone you can talk to so it never has to feel like you are going through such a tough time alone. Someone who cares about you will make sure you stay optimistic, motivated and focused on your primary goal.

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Avoid burnout

Studying for USMLE step 1 is like a marathon, and you have to pace yourself from the very first day. While studying, it is not uncommon to feel like you are lagging behind and not up-to-speed with the rest of the students. As such, you will continuously get tempted to study more as the urge to keep up takes its toll on you. At some point, you may feel like you should sacrifice activities such as working out, relaxing, watching TV and observing your diet to spend more time studying. If you find yourself in such a scenario, run away from it as fast as possible. Take care of your mental and emotional wellbeing by engaging in activities that distract you a little bit. Remember, your life is bigger than the test.

Keep the test in perspective

Most medical school students tend to feel the pressure of step 1 before they even begin. It is a perspective that most of them have in their minds. Understandably, you may have heard that this is the most crucial exam in your life but isn’t it the same thing that was said about the SAT and the MCAT and probably a few others? The sooner you start to realize that step 1 is just another test, the better. Besides, as a medical student, you must have come across other challenging tests and emerged victoriously. Consider the test as another step towards your goal.

Develop an effective study plan

Before you walk into medical school, you must know that various students’ learning styles and capacities are different. As such, trying to follow the schedule of one of your close friends might sound fun, but it could do more harm than good. It would be best if you tried customized preparation schedules, templates and plans. Ensure you come up with a learning technique that favors you if you help absorb information effectively. Try several learning methods, including reading review books, using flashcards, watching YouTube videos and answering practice questions. The best study plan is the one you are most comfortable with and impacts more knowledge.

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Understand that it is okay to get stressed

As a medical student, you ought to make peace with yourself because every day at school is pressure-packed, and the USMLE has relatively high stakes. It’s a stressful test, and your score matters significantly. While you will want to perform as well as possible, don’t blame yourself if you end up feeling stressed. It would help if you kept in mind that it’s not your fault that there’s too much pressure involved. Don’t be too hard on yourself but instead maintain your mental health and don’t overwork yourself.

Preparing for the USMLE Step 1 will probably take a lot out of you, but you have to watch out for your wellbeing. Despite the feeling of guilt and self-doubt on whether you are studying enough, you must take the necessary steps to reduce stress and make your study time effective. Keep the end in sight and work smart. 

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