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Tips From a Cram Fighter User Who Scored 277 on the USMLE Step 2

Ryan B., a medical student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, tells us how he studied for and killed it on Step 2.

Test-taking is a big part of medical school. There is no way around tests, so it’s best if you find a positive spin on them. Ryan views tests as a motivation for studying and thinks of them as a reward in their own way. “I think I just like to acquire information. I like to dwell on the tiniest details, which has served me well in preparing for exams.” Ryan tells us that testing himself, doing question banks, and staying organized were key in achieving his outstanding score. Read below for more details from Ryan.

Testing as studying strategy

I really enjoy studying and learning the little tiny nitpicky details, and I find it imperative to test myself on what I learn. I benefit from the satisfaction of doing well or not. If I get destroyed by questions or a test, I take it as a learning opportunity. I come out of it with tons of new little details I’ve learned from making a mistake or getting something wrong. Tests are beneficial in several ways. They reward you and guide you on how to proceed. If you did well, results encourage you to keep on doing what you’re doing. If you didn’t do well, results offer you feedback and indicate what you should focus on in order to improve. Practice tests are diagnostic in that they point you towards your weaknesses. That’s where I put the vast majority of my emphasis.

I started preparing early and made a game out of doing qbanks.

Qbanks, qbanks, qbanks!

Do as many practice questions as you can. I cannot emphasize how important qbanks were to me! All through med school I was doing tons and tons and tons and tons of questions, and it’s been the most helpful. The first two years of med school I bought all the question banks I could buy, and I just did questions all the time. It might have been a waste of money at times, but I thought it was incredibly helpful, and it made me focus on the details a little bit more. I got used to just constantly looking for little details that helped me pick apart a question. I started preparing early and made a game out of doing qbanks. Qbanks are an excellent way to find out where the holes are in your knowledge. Qbanks pushed me to study and encouraged me always to learn more. Qbanks clarified some of the material, and also present questions in a similar format to what you see on Step exams. As much as professors try to model our class lectures like Step exams, it’s just not quite the same.

Organize and conquer

I hate that feeling of walking into a test and just feeling unprepared for it. It just makes me so nervous thinking about it, and so I’ve just adapted by trying to balance everything out early. That’s where Cram Fighter was really helpful for me. I tried to pick the resources that I knew I would use early, and so that way I could set up my Cram Fighter schedule and have all those resources already scheduled out. That helped keep me on top of everything throughout so I wasn’t just rushing through studying right at the end.