Episode 30: Learn study techniques to use DURING an exam. This is a nice adjunct to the CD of the Month Club’s Comprehensive Study Techniques, because that CD focuses on techniques to manage a semester or test cycle – not really a single exam!

Listen to the 16 minute podcast here…


When the test starts:

Start your exam with a topic you are familiar with. This will tend to have you feeling good about the exam. This will build up your confidence to be able to answer those questions that you really find it easy. This builds confidence on your part.

Make time for Matching. Knock this one out first if you see it. Often, there are many easy questions in there that people often run out of time to capitalize on.

When answering LONG question stems:

Read the last sentence first. When you see a lengthy question that looks like a paragraph or half-page, the best thing to do is to read the last sentence of every question to find out what they are looking for. Then, read the question and you will be more focused. That is incredibly important.

Look for hints. Questions may contain 5-7 hints so look for it and circle keywords as you read through. When you read those long questions you don’t know the answer, don’t read it again because you still won’t know the answer. Remember it’s a time constraint test and you don’t have the luxury of 5 minutes looking at one question. So that you can get an educated guess on and KEEP MOVING.

Should you ever guess on a test?

Yes, but not in the setting that you may think. Here are some techniques that might help you navigate shelf exams:

Only guess when you really don’t have any idea. When you read questions you have no idea about and you simply don’t know a thing, and then guess.

When guessing, let it be an educated guess. First look at answer choices that are remotely familiar answer, take it. This is probably the answer. Certainly don’t randomly choose one favorite, pre-determined letter B or C and stick with it – this is a bad idea! You’ll hear all kinds of advice similar to this, but test writers hear the rumor mill too.

Patient management decisions:

For the USMLE Step 2, think cheap and use your common sense. When dealing with management, find the cheapest “next step”. Often, the gold standard is not the first step on the USMLE, or in real life.

P.S. Happy Birthday to me!

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