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How to Optimize Your Resources for Shelf and Step 2 Studying

Rebecca Halvorsen, from Eastern Virginia Medical School, shares her secret to manage time and resources to study for Shelf and Step 2 exams.

Rebecca, who is in the early phases of her dedicated study period for Step 2, shares her strategy on how to best transition from studying for Shelf exams to studying for Step 2.

Studying for Shelf and Step 2 is very different than studying for Step 1, says Rebecca. “There is less of an established formula for how people study for Shelf and Step 2 exams. It was harder to piece together what I was gonna do because there is a lot of variation in how people approach Shelf and Step 2.” Everyone seems to do it differently, so Rebecca created her own system. “I used UWorld to study for Shelf exams throughout the year, and will to continue to do so to study for Step 2. The advantage of studying all year round and using UWorld is that I’m becoming familiar with the questions and answers. There is usually less time to study for Step 2, so it’s important to know your resources well and to make the best out of them,” Rebecca told us.

I’ve been using Anki to create flashcards for myself from UWorld questions.

I’m currently going through UWorld one more time and am trying to tweak something away from it. I’ve been using Anki to create flashcards for myself from UWorld questions. I either create flashcards from questions that I got wrong or from questions that I feel like I don’t know very well. I try to make flashcards something that I can go through pretty rapid fire. I started doing fill in the blanks flashcards, essentially. I give myself a fair amount of information on the card, so I’m forcing myself to read over the information again, but in terms of the amount of material that I have to think of, it’s pretty minimal. For instance, HPV is a risk factor for cervical cancer in a certain demographic, so I create a card that says “You should vaccinate for HPV in women’s age __ to __”, so it’s pretty rapid fire to come up with the answer, and I don’t have to look at the flashcard and come up with a giant list on the back of that flashcard. I only have to remember the facts, and not which facts relate to which flashcards. This way I expedite and review the material instead of going over every detail multiple times.”

Redoing questions and rereading books can be tedious for many people. “It’s important that students figure out what works for them,” says Rebecca.

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