What to Focus on During USMLE Review

The key to successful exam preparation lies not in what you study, but in what you choose to ignore.

If you try to learn everything—every little detail, every little fact, you will not succeed, there is simply too much material to master in too short an amount of time. A better system is to use the guidance of your faculty and your own native intelligence to decide what is most important and what is not and to concentrate your efforts accordingly.

Divide all material that you study into three categories:

  1. What you must know
  2. What you ought to know
  3. What it would be nice if you knew

Then, orient your study accordingly.  Spend the most time on the “must”, then move on to the “ought”, and finally time on the “nice to know” if you have the time. Your goal is not to learn all the trees in the forest, but to come to an understanding of how the forest fits together.

If you have trouble making these decisions on your own, that is what faculty are for. Faculty will guide you through the peaks and valleys of the material, helping you to separate the essential from the merely interesting. Doing well is not about knowing everything, but rest on knowing the right things.

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USMLE Faculty and Curriculum Director at Becker