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How to Score above 250 on Step 1 While Married with Children

Spencer F., a medical student at UCSD, shares his formula to balance school, work, and a family, while preparing for the USMLE Step 1, and scoring over 250.

According to Spencer, a medical student at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, when balancing school, work, and studying for the boards, time management is particularly important. “I saw a huge mountain of studying to do for Step 1, and I just had no idea where to start or how to break it up. I did not know what I was doing. That’s when Cram Fighter came in. Cram Fighter really helped me break my study plan up, and make it manageable, day-by-day,” he says.

# 1 Start early, plan ahead, and spread out the stress

For Spencer, the key to succeeding on Step 1 was to slowly immerse himself into the process. “This involves beginning to acquire materials, trying practice questions, working on a study flow, discovering what resources you do and do not want to use in October, November, and December, so that when January comes around you know what you what works for you and what to build your final plan around.”

To do well on Step 1, I feel Cram Fighter was as needed as the books.

Spencer F., University of California San Diego School of Medicine

# 2 Define daily endpoints to your studying

“I found that if I looked at everything I had to do for Step 1, I became overwhelmed,” said Spencer, “but when I approached it in daily chunks, my stress load decreased dramatically. I found Cram Fighter to be the best for helping me define what tasks I needed to perform each day that would sum up to my being prepared on test day. To do well on Step 1, I feel Cram Fighter was as needed as the books. Cram Fighter helped manage my stress, manage my time in the best way. I feel like it helps attenuate a lot of the stress of medical school, which comes from feeling that there is so much to study. You feel like you need to study all the time, all day, every day. Cram Fighter took that away from me, which I’m so grateful for.”

# 3 Learn to prioritize

Spencer made sure to allocate time to everything that he finds important in his life. His categories were:“school and board studying, spending time with spouse/significant other and kids, self-care (exercise, one hobby, etc.), and quality time to himself. For Spencer, that was time spent on his spirituality, and serving in his church. When it came time to Spencer’s dedicated study period, he simply followed his study schedule. “This allowed me to go study as much as my plan dictated and then come home and help out and plug into the family when I was able.”

Your family will be your biggest support and ally when the going gets tough, and you will find stronger and healthier relationships with them if you are able to navigate this process with a plan, with good communication, and with discipline.

Spencer F., University of California San Diego School of Medicine

# 4 Family as an added support, not an added challenge

When asked how to manage personal life and studying for the boards, Spencer reminds us that “your family is actually your greatest strength. They ground you, they give you perspective, and they force you to use your time efficiently and not procrastinate, as some of our classmates without children are prone to do. If you let them, your family will be your biggest support and ally when the going gets tough, and you will find stronger and healthier relationships with them if you are able to navigate this process with a plan, with good communication, and with discipline.”

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