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After the Galens Smoker ended last week (I may still be suffering from a wee bit of withdrawal), my thoughts turned to the next big event on the horizon – the USMLE Step 1 exam. It has been hovering on the edge of my and my classmates’ consciousness the whole year, looming closer and closer as the number of remaining sequences dwindled.

And now, it’s just about here. The exam for our final sequence of M2 year, Endocrine, opens this Wednesday, and then our dedicated boards-study period has arrived. People are walking around with First Aid in their backpacks and posting Facebook messages alerting their friends to their account’s imminent deactivation. And meanwhile, we are all slightly (or, more than slightly) freaking out about the amount of material that will be crammed (and hopefully retained) in our brains during the next six weeks.

I have been prepping a little bit during the school year: reading the First Aid section corresponding to our current sequence and doing a few QBank (short for question bank, such as the gold-standard USMLE World) questions. But I’m happy to report that I’m no longer feeling panicked about the upcoming exam. I think a lot of it has to do with perspective.

Step 1 is a seven-hour exam (with one hour of potential break time), composed of seven one-hour blocks of 46 questions. When you call it a seven-hour exam, it seems much more monstrous than if you merely consider it as seven quizzes completed back-to-back. Seven quizzes doesn’t sound quite as bad, does it?

At any rate, we have our study schedule and have culled our number of resources to the most essential ones. At the beginning of the year, I (and probably many others did as well) bought nearly as many resources as I found, hoping that the sheer volume would help me do better. Now, I have learned to be a bit more selective for quality over quantity; I plan to focus on several key resources – First Aid, Pathoma, USMLE World, and nightly review of flashcards for Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Pharmacology (my weakest areas).

The next few weeks will probably entail more dedicated study than ever before in my life. I’m looking forward to making connections and re-learning material I had previously forgotten. But mostly, I’m looking forward to it being over (no surprise there) and having two weeks of vacation before third year starts. As an MSTP, I have the option to “split” the M3 year and do a few months of clinical rotations before heading off to my lab. So, at the beginning of May, I will be in Surgery for two months, followed by a month of Family Medicine.

So, to paraphrase Edward R. Murrow, good night (or morning/afternoon) to all and good luck to my classmates!

Sara is a fourth-year medical student at UMMS. When not in the hospital, she can usually be found on the golf course or at a Michigan sporting event cheering on the Wolverines.