6 USMLE Step 1 Test Day Tips
The USMLE Step 1 test is enough to stress out even the calmest medical students. Most individuals have two or three years of schooling behind them before taking the exam, but the test is no small venture. The USMLE Step 1 exam evaluates your understanding of medicine, and your results play a pivotal role in determining what types of professions and residency programs you qualify for.
While you’re preparing for the eight-hour exam, it’s important to be proactive and review subjects long before test day. The following tips will help you the day before you sit for the USMLE Step 1 test.
1. Get the Sleep You Need for Success
Last-minute cramming always seems like a good idea. However, you must know when to put down the flashcards and turn in for the night. Staying up all night or past your normal sleep schedule could cause you to miss your alarm or feel groggy during the USMLE Step 1 exam.
Doing your best on the USMLE Step 1 test will require you to be in excellent shape physically and mentally. This means you should try to get seven to eight hours of sleep. The USMLE Step 1 exam is divided into several one-hour blocks. Getting enough sleep ensures you’re attentive to answer the exam questions within the timeframe.
2. Practice Your Morning Routine
A key component in doing well on exams is perfecting your morning routine. Two or three days before taking the USMLE Step 1 test, get up at the time you will on test day and follow this schedule through the big day. Waking up at a specific time days before the test ensures you are awake and alert for examination.
Additionally, find a breakfast that agrees with your stomach. This might be eggs and toast or a bowl of fruit and yogurt. Mapping out your morning routine can help put your mind at ease, as you’ve been used to these foods for a few days.
3. Keep Your Diet Consistent
The day before your USMLE Step 1 exam is not the time to try new things. Specifically, stay away from new foods or overloading yourself with caffeine. Medical students often think about what healthy foods are good to eat during USMLE test preparation. The short answer to this question is well-balanced meals that include fruits and vegetables, whole grains and protein.
Try to avoid salty snacks and extra carbohydrates, as these can interfere with digestion. Drink the amount of coffee you’re used to days leading up to the exam as well as on test day to prevent jitters or caffeine withdrawal.
4. Figure out Transportation Beforehand
For a positive USMLE Step 1 exam day experience, test out your transit route beforehand. Leave your home or apartment at the same time you will on exam day to see what traffic or public transportation patterns look like. Evaluate the parking situation and see if you’ll need to pay to use a lot or garage. Public transportation schedules change based on location. Check that buses or trains will get you to your testing site on time.
Arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes before your exam. It’s worth checking out alternative routes to the testing facility if you plan on driving yourself. This will help you adapt to unforeseen accidents, roadwork or other situations.
5. Gather What You Need to Bring to USMLE Step 1 the Day Before
On test day, you will need to bring a copy of your scheduling permit and a government-issued photo ID. Be sure to get those items ready the day before, and then put them somewhere you know you won’t forget to grab them when you leave. For example, if you’re driving yourself, putting them by your keys might be helpful.
You might also want to bring some snacks with you on test day. Protein bars, cut-up vegetables and apple slices make excellent options.
6. Complete a Light Review
You might be tempted to study right up until USMLE Step 1 test day. You’ve been working hard for months to prepare for this moment, so it’s best to keep study sessions light the day before and the morning of the exam.
Take the day before the exam to relax. Ideally, you’ll spend no more than an hour or two on review in the last 24 hours before heading to the testing center.
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