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How to Stay Motivated in Dedicated Step 1 Period

  • by Erica Forrette
  • May 03, 2017
  • Reviewed by: Amy Rontal

As the popular Step 1 exam month of June approaches, many medical students are gearing up and trying to strike a balance between staying motivated and giving their all, and preventing burnout during their dedicated study time.

We spoke with a Cram Fighter user who killed it on their board exams for some advice on these two subjects. For one student, Alex, it was all about structuring a study plan week to week, making sure he was staying on track, giving some buffer time, and taking care of himself physically.

I know what you’re thinking: easier said than done! Well, we interviewed this student to get some valuable advice for you. Here is some great advice from Alex for keeping yourself motivated:

1. Do multiple passes of your resources.

According to Alex, this was the most important part of his studying. Alex started by doing an in-depth first pass through First Aid, and supplementing it with Pathoma. During that time, he also covered about 60% of UWorld (matching the same subjects with First Aid and Pathoma). During the second pass, Alex introduced DIT to cover more complex subjects. At that point, Alex was finishing UWorld on an ad hoc basis, and revisiting questions he got wrong. During Alex’s third pass, he speed read the books and focused on questions in a random fashion.

2. Keep yourself in check and stay on track with study partners.

Alex found that having a study partner would be helpful. His partner kept him accountable and moving forward at a desired pace. They pushed each other and helped each other stay on track. Alex and his partner reviewed each other’s answers to self-assessments together, which according to Alex, greatly accelerated the review process.

3. Allocate time for catch-up days.

It’s is likely that you won’t always keep up with your schedule. Catch-up days are essential to ensure that late work doesn’t snowball. Alex recommends allocating at least a half day off per week. As he saw it, if you had work to catch-up on, there was the time, and if you didn’t, catch-up time became time off (which you rarely get!) Used in this way, catch-up days can reward students who stay on track, and might even give you a shot to get a little ahead in your schedule.

4. Self-care!!

Taking care of your physical and emotional health is extremely important during stressful times like dedicated study! Alex made sure he slept eight hours a day, ate healthy, and worked out a few times a week. He tried to continue to engage in hobbies at least once a week, be it half or a full day. “Having a book, a video game, or a TV show that you can pick up for a half hour at a time was great for when you hit a mental wall, but can’t afford to take multiple hours off,” said Alex.

In general, Alex suggested that staying motivated during Step 1 dedicated study is really about your mindset. “The Step 1 is like a marathon, and you can get through it if you approach the exam the right way.” Following the advice he suggested should help you stay in this positive mindset as your exam date approaches.

About the Author

Erica Forrette is the former Director of Marketing at Cram Fighter.