How to Survive Medical School: USMLE 1

This past weekend marked the halfway point of clerkship (MS3) year. This past weekend also marked yet another weekend that flew by without a blog post. I promise that I’ve drafted and edited posts in what little spare time I have. Third year is exhilarating albeit exhausting – a topic I’ll touch on in a post to come. Today, I wanted to share just a little bit about my preparation for USMLE 1 and some general advice for the big exam.

I often get emails and direct messages (on Twitter and Instagram – you guys are relentless) about USMLE 1 and my score. I have never been the kind of person to share specifics regarding standardized test scores but I will say this: I only took the advice of upperclassmen who scored 245 and above. And so, I would take my own advice.

To preface my advice: you know yourself best. At this point, you’ve come to understand what sort of student you are. You know how to prepare for standardized tests. USMLE 1 is no different from the MCAT or SAT/ACT/AP. Don’t forget that!

The worst thing you can do is get into your head. I think a lot of medical students get so worried about the exam and freak out (preemptively) about their ability to match into xyz specialty that they forget that it’s just a test. An important test, but still…just a test. With that in mind, the best advice I can give is to try your hardest to learn material well the first time it is introduced.

One of my classmates took extra time off to study for USMLE 1 and of course when we caught up to chat, I asked him why. He told me: “I took pass/fail at heart first and second year, and so I had to teach myself a lot of material for the first time. I just needed more than 6-8 weeks to prepare.” Totally valid.

Before you launch into this post, take a peek at my general approach to MS2 and how I handled each MS2 course.

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How to Survive Medical School: Second Year Coursework

I can’t believe I’m saying this but: today is  my first day of third year! I took USMLE 1 a month ago weeks ago. It is such a relief to be beyond that exam. Since then, I’ve done a bit of traveling and I’ve tried to stop panicking about my impending score. In the future, I’ll share with y’all my strategies to study for the exam and to stay sane and motivated throughout my dedicated study period. In this post, I want to continue to chat about how I tackled second year coursework. It’s probably a good idea to first read the post about how I studied throughout the year.

Second Year at TUSOM: Second year begins in May with the inflammation (pathology, immunology, & clinical diagnosis) block. That block is followed by two months of well-deserved summer and then followed by the following blocks: microbiology (microbiology and immunology), hematology/oncology (microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, & clinical diagnosis), cardiology (microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, & clinical diagnosis), renal (microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, & clinical diagnosis), pulmonary (microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, & clinical diagnosis), gastrointestinal (microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, & clinical diagnosis), neurology (microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, & clinical diagnosis), reproduction/endocrine (microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, & clinical diagnosis), and psychiatry (pathology & pharmacology).

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