How to Prepare for the USMLE: What Did You Do Each Day?

This comes from an email from two students in my year but a term behind at SGU.


Hey Toph!
I hear you are having an amazing time on your trip, it is probably coming to an end pretty soon so enjoy the last days! It’s coming close to board studying and Jess and I were wondering how you and Kelly actually studied together. Jess and I are using the same schedule and plan to get together every 3 days or so, and we were thinking about asking questions, buzz words, that kind of thing. We just wanted to see how you boys did it.Talk to you soon, hope all is well.


We sat across from each other; nothing else. We were on the same schedule, so each day we would open up our books and start reviewing on our own. Any time I had a question about something, I would ask Kelly and vice versa. If either of us found something interesting, we’d share it. If either of us thought of an interesting question to ask the other, we would. It also helped that we were hunting for errors, and this made the work slow but deep as we covered everything in full (since I tried to verify every fact in the FA).At lunch or dinner, one of us might ask the other, “Okay, please explain ovulation to me.” This was always great exercise. At night we would eat with his family and then go our separate ways: me to the basement, him to the study. Throughout the entire process, we were writing our own review notes and inserting them into the FA for quick review in the last week and this has also always been great exercise. Every three days or so we would finish a topic and then go through all of the UW questions on our own. We would mark the interesting ones and include them in our notes. Sometimes we would ask each other how-in the hell-did you answer that one correctly? In this way, we learned the way that each other thought. Kelly goes by instinct; I go by Random Access Memory.But most of all, we did everything that we had always done. Kelly and I had been studying together for two years already and we both did well in school. There was no reason to think that it would be any different and it wasn’t. I was up till 1am or 2am each night and we were both up and at the library by 8:30am, so they were long days. But they were fun days, because you get to see every puzzle piece again only this time (after two years) you know what the fucking picture on the box is supposed to be. It’s amazing how much everything starts sliding into place.

You’ll do fine, just stay on schedule. Never break schedule. Worship the schedule. Hope it helps, toph.

P.S. Kelly never broke the schedule while I broke it all the time. I once spent an entire day on antiarrhythmial drugs, which you just shouldn’t do. I put off viruses, protazoa and fungi, cranial neoplasms, and a host of other topics due to time. Looking at my USMLE summary, these were where I lost all my points.

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4 Responses to How to Prepare for the USMLE: What Did You Do Each Day?

  1. Carolin says:

    LOL, “..worship the schedule”. It’s all about discipline, huh? That’s great that you were able to find a good study-buddy. Sometimes it’s hard to find a good balance between someone that slows you down and someone that is somehow always ahead of you, which can be irritating ;-P (though you should be flattered that someone ‘smarter’ than you is willing to study with you) ;-)
    Anyway, I’ll definitely try this study-buddy technique from now on, maybe I’m truly missing out on something great.

  2. Sheena says:

    Can you tell me how many hours a day you studied? You mentioned above 8:30-2am, but that seems really unsustainable for most people. You really did that every day for 8 weeks?

    This process is so nerve-wracking. I really, REALLY appreciate your advice. Our med school has circulated your blog to almost our entire class.

  3. natasha says:

    possible 8 2

  4. aru93 says:

    Im a not from USA …. Can u temme …. If i manage to pass usmle …. As im studying for it …. What kind of lifestyle would it be … Im basically from india

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