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Sections focusing on individual organ systems are subdivided acording to normal and abnormal processes, including principles of therapy. Each Step 1 examination covers content related to the following traditionally defined disciplines:. The Step 1 examination also covers content related to the following interdisciplinary areas:.
Step 1 classifies test items along two dimensions, system and process, as shown in Table 1 below. While not all topics listed in the content outline are included in every USMLE examination, overall content coverage is comparable in the various examination forms that will be taken by different examinees for each Step. Most organ systems are partitioned into Normal Processes and Abnormal Processes, and include subcategories of specific disease processes.
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A low passing score can be just as damaging as failing outright. And unfortunately, in most cases, students are their own worst enemy, because the most common reasons for poor performance and low memory recall on exam day are self-inflicted. The difficulty of the test comes down to the sheer breadth and volume of information. And the prospect of regurgitating everything during a single, 8-hour day is daunting.
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Especially because you only get about one minute per question. Preparing to master so many different areas, and being forced to recall and apply them quickly — under pressure — is challenging. Poor study habits like multitasking, social studying, and a distracting environment sabotage your memory faster than you can improve it.
Many of you are familiar with the 10,hour rule made infamous by Malcolm Gladwell. However, everyone has lives. The number of hours you study can only get you so far.
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To succeed with a limited time frame and numerous other extracurricular commitments, we need to focus, prioritize, and use that time wisely. And we need to kill passive studying. They just make better use of that time. Outside of chess, their memory recall is just like your average person. The reason they excel at chess is because of among other things their deep understanding of how the pieces fit together. And they develop this ability cumulatively, over time, through countless hours of deliberate practice.
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Passive techniques like copying notes as written, sticking to one studying method, and relying on rote memorization can only get you so far. Presented with too much information and a short time frame, it quickly starts to break down. The key to mastering information recall is to add context and improve engagement with the material.
Underneath most active studying approaches is deliberate practice , a concept coined by Anders Ericsson and his colleagues. And deliberate practice has some unique characteristics that set it apart from most other techniques:. Unlike sitting in a coffee shop, casually discussing Step 1 principles with your friends, deliberate practice is not fun. It can typically only be practiced for a few hours a day, for only minutes at a time.
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A strategic approach to studying like this will help you get a better return on your studying efforts. But the application is difficult because there are different solutions which address one or two steps, but not the others. Mind mapping or diagrams help you outline and structure information. But not memorize it. While flash cards may help you organize and memorize, but not apply it.