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How to Study for the USMLE examinations

Discussion in 'USMLE' started by John Jossef, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. John Jossef

    John Jossef Bronze Member

    Mar 21, 2011
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    1- You are an American citizen who has just finished studying in medical school in a foreign country. You have just returned to the United States or Canada and, now, you wish to prepare for the very challenging USMLE examination sponsored by the ECFMG. Your questions are: 1) What should I do? and 2) How do I study for this exam. To find out what needs to be done you can 1) call or write or e-mail the ECFMG to recieve an information pamphlet, 2) contact a training school, i.e. Stanley Kaplan or Harvard Medical Exam Training (not Harvard University) to find out what will be on the examination. Then you can cooordinate your study time with your other daily activities. Everyone - whether married, with kids, or single - has family distractions they must tend to. The important thing is to draw up a schedule for regular, repeated, daily studying - and STICK TO IT!
    Whether you can only study 2 hours a day or have the opportunity to study 5 or 6 hours a day - stick to that schedule like glue. Everyone has different mental abilities but, in general, you will need at least 3 or 4 months to get ready for the exam. Some people, like me, need 6 or 7 months. The USMLE examination is given every January and July in a calendar year. The cost is steep - up to $800 now-a-days.

    2- Going to a training school, like Kaplan or Harvard (again, we are NOT talking about Harvard University) is crucial. The Kaplan and Harvard school faculty are professionals - who know what will be on the exam. Tuition costs are not cheap - up to a cool grand per semester - but, in the long run, it is worth it. The schools will provide you with soft-cover study books - a lot cheaper than buying hard-cover textbooks. Go to the school every day. Sit at the study booth where you will listen to study tapes that the school will provide you with. As you listen to the tapes - TAKE NOTES! If you then have to go to work at your job or run errands for your family - go ahead. You need to sit at your study cubicle at the school at LEAST 2 HOURS A DAY. Then in the evening- set aside 1 to 2 hours each evening to study your "school notes" and read from a few books. DO NOT BUY new medical textbooks because they have way too much information for you to cram into your poor brain. If you wish - you can buy a small reference book, i.e. Merck Manual, Professional Guide to Disease (published by Donna Carpenter and Nancy Holmes)or Diagnosis of Disease. They are wonderful books and contain plenty enough information as a supplement to your school notes. If you have old text books from medical school at home - you can skim over them to help you out- but your main concentration should be on your school notes and the smaller reference books. If need be, write your school notes over and over again to help you grasp the information. Take some notes from your 2 chosen reference. Instead of buying monstrously long and terribly expensive books like Harrison's Guide to Disease- you can find them and books like them at your training school or at the Public Library. At such libraries you can supplement your reading by referring frequently to medical dictionaries. Remember, whatever you do, zero-in on the material that will be on the exam. You do not need to memorize every medical fact of the last 2,000 years!

    3- Your training school will warn you that there will be some information on the examination that may not be what you will be studying for. The exam presents numerous questions on "Medical Statistics" - so don't neglect that subject to learn more about, say, tuberculosis. The examination will also display x-ray photographs with an accompanying question - which are not readily available unless you are studying a radiology textbook. Usually your training school can supply information on medical statistics and a run of x-ray photos. A USMLE study book - published by Ryppins - is a good book - but it cannot be studied alone. You need to use the Ryppins book as a supplement to your school notes and your 1, 2 or 3 smaller reference books.

    4- In 1985 the USMLE exam broke into 2 exams. Part A of the USMLE is called the "Basic Sciences" exam. Part B of the USMLE is the "Clinical Sciences" Exam. Part A concerns itself with- Anatomy, Biochemistry, Histology, Embryology and the like. Part B concerns itself with - Cardiology, Endocrinology, Muscle-Skeletal, Gasto-intestinal, OB -Gyne and so forth. You may study for both exams together or you may study for one exam and then take the other exam 6 months later. One aggravating aspect of the exam is that there will be presented a very fatiguing "English exam," just before the medical portion of the exam. This "mini-exam" is directed toward non-English speaking foreigners taking the USMLE exam. You can easily pass that portion of the USMLE exam - but take care not to let it cause you mental fatigue once the medical exam itself is presented. The USMLE examination is a very tough exam. Many students fail it more than once - some repeatedly. But you are a tough customer - an "Indiana Jones" of sorts for having endured an amazing adventure of studying medicine in a foreign country. So just keep trying until the inevitable success is yours!

    Source : eHow

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