Whether you’re taking the USMLEⓇ Step 1 or COMLEX–USA Level 1, passing your second-year medical board exam is an important stepping stone in every medical student’s career. Your licensure, your future as a med student, and your future residency match hinge on the success of this single exam.
Family Medicine PGY–1 Manpreet “Preety” Mahal, MD recently shared a simple three-step study system for quickly zeroing in on what you need to review to turn weak areas into strengths and retain complex medical concepts. After the session, Dr. Mahal answered some general board exam and board study tool questions in a Q&A.
Meet Dr. Mahal
Be sure to check out Dr. Mahal on her social media channels—she shares tips and advice for medical students and interns, and, of course, some great foodie content.
Currently, a PGY–1 learning family medicine in the heart of Detroit at Henry Ford Hospital, Dr. Mahal is passionate about addressing the health disparities she has witnessed throughout her education—including as a volunteer at the Woodbridge Community Center while an undergraduate at Wayne State University and later while rotating in a safety net hospital in New York. Dr. Mahal completed medical school at the American University of the Caribbean on the beautiful Caribbean island of Sint Marteen, where not even Hurricane Irma could dissuade her love for community health and social awareness. During her free time, she loves to annoy her dog Simba whom she adopted from Sint Maarten, dancing, working out, hiking, and—most importantly—cooking.
- Instagram: @foodiewithscrubs
The Never Fail Three-Step Step 1 Study Plan
Whether you’re studying for Step 1 or COMLEX 1, studying starts on day one of medical school. Later in year one and in year two as a med student, you’ll start formalizing your board study plan. The system shared by Dr. Mahal leverages cartoons, question banks, and a ton of learning science, so you’re guaranteed to pass Step 1 the first time.
Step 1: Use a Question Bank to Quiz
Question Banks (commonly known as “Q-Banks”) like the USMLE Step 1 SmartBank powered by TrueLearn or TrueLearn’s COMLEX-USA Level 1 SmartBank, UWorld, Kaplan, and Lecturio offer medical students the opportunity to review board-style questions. Most of these tools simulate the exact (or close to exact) format of USMLE Step 1 or COMLEX questions in style and length to familiarize yourself with board-style questions. QBanks provide an instant view of your strengths and weaknesses.
So…How do you Study for Step 1 with a QBank?
Create a schedule to break up the questions, committing to taking questions daily—or nearly daily, we do recommend on study break day each week to avoid burnout.
SmartBanks powered by TrueLearn
As you may (or may not) know, Picmonic is part of the TrueLearn family. When you quiz with TrueLearn SmartBanks, the question results provide detailed explanations guiding you to the most important Picmonics to master. And, the USMLE Step 1 or COMLEX-USA Level 1 SmartBanks from TrueLearn offer additional benefits beyond other question banks including:
- Learning science techniques including spaced repetition to proactively push highly-personalized content to bolster that specific subject or topic to long-term memory.
- Performance analytics and benchmarking so you’ll know exactly where you stand.
- Simulated board exams are designed to create familiarity with the board exam of your choosing.
- Custom quizzes you can create by identifying categories in which you underperform.
- Tutor Mode for rich answer explanations that make understanding difficult topics easy.
Step 2: Learn with your favorite study tool
Like us, Dr. Mahal is a big fan of Picmonic. In this webinar, she shares how she used Picmonic for studying in medical school, for Step 1, and even as an intern.
Step 3: Repeat
Step three is a bit of a throw-away step. Repeat this process daily to focus your board study sessions. The learning science behind this method AND these two tools will help you to strengthen your understanding of medical concepts and provide you the ability to easily recall this info when you’re under pressure—like say during an important board exam or while providing care to a patient.
Othe Medical Board Study Resources on Picmonic.com
- Why Med Students “Fail” USMLE Step 1 Exam (And How to Make Sure You Pass the First Time)
- 7 USMLE Step 1 Exam Day Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making in Medical School & Tips to Improve Your Score
- Successful Start to USMLE STEP 1 Prep From Someone Who Scored a 274
- 3 Study Tools to Dominate USMLE Step 1 & Step 2 [WEBINAR]
- The Ultimate Guide to Med School Study Tools [WEBINAR]
- 5 Habits You Need When Studying for COMLEX [WEBINAR]
Picmonic turns the information you need to know in medical school into unforgettable images and stories with quizzes that are scientifically proven to increase memory retention!
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