How to Prepare for the USMLE: Medical Student’s Law

I’m not going to question my attitude about the whole thing. I still think the way to prepare for the USMLE is to be enthusiastic for the chance to show the world what you’ve learned and to be excited for the opportunity to give two months to simply “reviewing.” Despite the hard work involved and my inability to articulate it in the form of an application essay, I love science. And despite the transient wish for a cat’s simple life of breathing, complaining, and rubbing against things, I know that none of that is what I really want. This, trully, is the greatest thing I could be doing right now.

“This” is 8-5 studying every day at the University of Cincinnati medical school atrium with all of the other medstudents, each of us shivering underneath our long underwear, hats, fleeces, coats, scarfs and mittens; each of us cursing the smokers for opening the door to the outside world every few minutes to the point were we’re thinking, “Fuck it, I might as well have a smoke;” each of us staring at the page with all the fun facts that make all of this worth the shaking.

I take breaks every half hour to run my hands in the warm, warm bathroom faucet just so I can take more notes. Yesterday, I bought two cups of coffee at the same time: one to drink and the other to hold. I say again:

This, truly, is the greatest thing I could be doing right now.

Everything is so interesting, that I’m slowing waaaay down in sections where time will not permit. Microbiology, for instance. I was so caught up in seeing patterns between the bugs and the drugs that I let it eat into virus-time. So now, I have to create two free days that don’t exist and I’m re-living an old problem born of my unchecked enthusiasm.

Falling behind means knowing less.

Excuse my hubris, but I was trying to be the first to avoid this. I am taking 9 weeks were others take 7. I could have sworn it’d be enough. Parkinson, however, couldn’t care less. I give you his Law: “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Truer words, truer words. But that’s not an option. I’m not postponing my test to allow time to catch-up. I’m not going to drop other interests like writing about this experience. I’m not going to learn less. Something’s got to give.

It’s probably appropriate, then, to introduce a new law.

Medical Student’s Law: “Sleep contracts as work expands.”

High Yield: S = (1/W)

Return to USMLE Step 1 page.


5 Responses to How to Prepare for the USMLE: Medical Student’s Law

  1. Rohit says:

    Hows your transfer process going? Hows your studying going for the USMLE? I am going to start a website like yours soon. Hopefully, everything works out find.

  2. Christina says:

    rofl. Kudos to the new law. Couldn’t have been stated better. S=1/W lol.
    Of course you’ll notice this post is taking place at 3:58 am. Med school is awesome.

  3. Sanjoy says:

    u speak my hearts out !
    and best of luck !

  4. usmlestep says:

    I liked your article and posted it on my web-site. Hope you do not mind

  5. BUEHLER says:

    I have been using Kaplan a lot, but my favorite for fast USMLE revision is USMLE STEP 1 & 2 TOTAL REVIEW, and since it is software based, it is fast and easy to use. It is on a site called

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