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When do UCSF medical students typically start studying for USMLE Step 1

Each year medical students take the USMLE Step 1, an exam designed to test medical students’ knowledge in the basic sciences.




UCSF medical students typically take this exam in April of their second year, a week or two before starting their clinical rotations.

Each year, second year medical students have the same questions and concerns about the exam. One common question that comes up frequently is when they should start studying for the exam.

Most students would agree that you should start studying early. Many will start as early as necessary so that they do not have to cram for the exam. For some, this means starting the Fall semester of their 2nd year. For others, it means starting to study in January; and those who are especially gifted give themselves 3 to 4 weeks to study for the exam. The overwhelming majority, however, start studying in January.

Students can opt to start as early as the Fall semester of their second year. This allows them to browse the information that will be on the exam, focusing on understanding general concepts without memorizing the details. Students often use BRS Physiology and BRS Pathology during this time.

Some students choose to start their studying after Thanksgiving or over the Winter holidays. Again, during this time, they focus on the concepts, although many have already designed a structured study schedule by this time. This early approach also allows them to keep their studying at a steady pace.

Most students start seriously studying in January (if they plan to take the USMLE Step 1 in April). These students would prefer to savor their holiday break to begin the gruesome task of studying when classes resume.


HOW DID YOU STUDY FOR THE USMLE STEP 1?  (Student reponses below)
– Start early with at least some minimal review, i.e. BRS physio, BRS path, some basic pharm review, etc. (ENTJ personality type)
–  I started studying in January and made a schedule with friends to review certain chapters each week. We got together for two hours each week to trouble shoot and talk about how that material went. During the fall we also met once a week to look through a few chapters of first aid, just to see what was in stock for us come winter. I am not sure whether I learned much in those sessions, but it was nice to begin to feel like I was addressing the test looming in front of me and that I wasn’t alone. (E/I STJ personality type)
– Third, take the test early. Start studying early and then schedule your test for 2-2.5 weeks after the last day of life cycle … I started early and studied quite a bit for step 1 (ISTJ personality type)
– I would suggest really starting to study Jan 1st. (ISTJ personality type)
– You definitely might want to start reviewing some over Christmas break but make sure its basic stuff BRS Physio is great for just reminding yourself what the kidney does etc, and don’t expect to learn that material cold, just pick up some groundwork for later (ESF P/J personality type)
–  For people that don’t like to go hard core for 12 hours/day, you MUST start early. Realistically, after Thanksgiving. Yes, so that means over winter break you should study; believe me, you will thank yourself later when you would have wanted more time (ISFJ personality type)
– Don’t start until LifeCycle begins. Savor your winter break before the madness begins. (INTJ personality type)
–  The school has a very strong opinion that students should not start studying until January. While this probably works for many students, I think you should start studying when you feel like you need to. I started studying at the end of November and felt that that worked much better for me than starting in January. Getting a couple subjects done before starting Lifecycle made me feel much more at ease and less stressed from Jan to the test.  (ISTJ personality type)
– Don’t start studying before winter break. (ESTJ personality type)
– Start studying in January so that you don’t have to stress out or cram at the end, gather your books before this.  (INTJ personality type)
–  I started studying a little bit in January and just studied a little bit each day until life cycle was over. At that point, I had three weeks left and this is when I did the bulk of my studying. I think three weeks is the perfect amount of time. I was definitely getting burned out by the end and felt that having anymore time would have actually adversely affected my score (INFJ personality type)
–  I began reading them in January and finished when Life Cycle ended, then spent another 3 weeks reviewing the material and doing practice questions (I S/N FJ personaity type)

– First year (ISFJ); (INFJ); (ENTJ)
– Beginning or early second year (INTP) (EN?P)
– October (ISTJ); (ISTJ); (ENFJ) (I?FJ)
– November (INTJ); (INTJ);
– December (ISTJ); (ESF?); (ISFJ); (ISFJ);  (ESFP); (ESTJ); (?STJ); (E?FJ);  (INTJ); (INFJ);(ENTJ)



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