Prep for success
In preparing to take the USMLE, it's more important to focus on test-writing skills rather than trying to memorize everything about the practice of medicine (which just isn't possible). The best preparation for all three steps in the USMLE is to do as many sample questions as you can find. Some of these are available for free online, but may be outdated. You may also want to browse online and consider buying a USMLE preparation program.
Test Prep Services and Practice Tests
A good way to fully explore and improve on your weaknesses is to use test preparation services with practice tests. Statistics show that students who do best on entrance exams of any kind (including the USMLE) are the ones who have worked the hardest in preparation.
Before you buy a preparation program, make sure it's top of the line and current. Kaplan and Falcon are both reputable names in test preparation services. Compare different services and think about the advantages and disadvantages of each for your situation. If cost is an issue, you can even purchase used test preparation materials, but like some online resources, they may be out of date.
Consider preparation programs as an investment in your future - although the fee is high, if it helps you achieve your goal, you'll be more than compensated.
Other Preparation Tips
- Focus on your weaknesses. If you know that you have weaknesses, you need to begin by approaching them head-on. For example, if you've done poorly on an undergraduate course, you'll need to go back over the material and find out how you can improve. This is also a feature of some of the better test preparation services - they offer shortcuts to identifying your weaknesses and working past them. Once you identify your weaknesses, work with diligence to turn them into strengths.
- Study hard. Once you've worked out a preparation strategy, you need to hit the books. Think about how important the USMLE is and how it can affect your future, and then commit to properly preparing for it. You should plan to spend somewhere between 100 and 150 hours preparing for each step of the USMLE.