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It’s hard to believe that it’s already time for the Step 1 study period again. As the M2s finish up their preclinical training, here’s some advice I gained from this period:

  1. As tempting as it seems to keep studying for one extra hour, just go to bed. You can’t learn things effectively if your brain is tired.
  2. Stay calm. (Yeah, right). Everything will work out fine, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.
  3. Do what works for you. It doesn’t matter if your study plan doesn’t look like anyone else’s, or really isn’t even a plan. If it’s what has been working for you, rock it.
  4. Do something you enjoy. It doesn’t matter if it’s exercise or lying in bed watching reality TV.
  5. Accept that you won’t always be happy. I loved making new connections in my knowledge base, but I also shed many tears. But it’s worth it.
  6. Don’t lose touch of your support network. Just like sleep, it may seem more efficient to study an extra hour than talk with your friends and family. Staying sane is most important.
  7. Checking Facebook (and other social media sites) during this period can be really depressing. Most of your M2 classmates aren’t posting, and looking at photos of M1 spring break is frankly painful.
  8. Don’t lose sight of the questions you answered correctly and confidently. After finishing Step 1, I went out to my car and cried because all I could remember were the questions I stared at with no clue how to begin. Over the next week, I started to remember the other questions that I answered and moved on without a second thought.
  9. Remember that you have already learned most of this information. You passed the sequences, so that knowledge is stored somewhere in your brain. The trick is familiarizing yourself with it in order to retrieve it faster and more effectively.
  10. Breathe! It will all be okay – in just over six weeks, you will have passed this milestone and focus on your reason for coming to medical school – caring for patients!
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.