🧠 Master the mental game to succeed on USMLE Step 1

How I mastered my mind to succeed on the USMLE step 1

Hey friends,

I was reminiscing this weekend about Step 1 studying, and because I know that many of you might still be in the thick of it, I thought I would share something essential I realised when studying for the USMLE.

I remember when I ran my first half-marathon, people told me to beware 'the wall'. This is a barrier that, despite all your months of preparation, all runners hit towards the end. No matter how prepared you are, you hit this proverbial wall, and you feel that you have nothing left to give.

At that point, the barrier is not physical, it is psychological. You can choose to give up and stop, or you can push through and finish.

USMLE studying is much like running a marathon. The actual tasks that you need to complete (practise questions, flashcards, etc.) are not too difficult, it is having to do these tasks every day, 6 days a week, for months on end, that lead to burn out.

It follows then, that managing your psychological health and attitude is essential to succeeding on this test, especially as an IMG.

Here are some tips I would give to myself if I could do it over again:

  • 😀 Alter your expectations: if you can reach the starting line healthy, your preparation will take you the rest of the way.
  • 😴 Get high quality sleep: the urge to fall asleep while studying is a 🚩🚩🚩 if you're struggling with this, check out this thread from Andrew Huberman, Stanford PhD and neurobiologist.
  • πŸ₯‘ Nutrition: give yourself 1 day a week off to meal prep healthy food, don't just order delivery (unhealthy and expensive). This food will fuel your brain, which is fuelling your test score, so eat healthily!
  • πŸƒExercise: don't underestimate how much a quick 15 minute sprint can reset your mind if you don't feel like working.
  • 🏑 Spend time with loved ones to recharge your batteries
  • 🍿 Have something to look forward to in the evenings: for me it was Greys Anatomy πŸ‘¨β€βš•οΈ
  • ❀ Believe in yourself: if you're going to pass this test, the first thing you have to do is believe that you can do it, because you can, and you will!️
It bears repeating, sleep is a drug that can 10x your studying performance...

I hope you guys are liking the new format of The IMG Journey newsletter. I'd love to know your thoughts. What topics would you like to see covered? Hit <reply> down below and let me know πŸ‘‡

All the best,

- Chris

πŸ“š My Favourite Resources

πŸš‘ Medicine - How to Call for a Consult Amazing twitter thread on how to call your consultant. If you're an incoming intern or just interested in how to communicate effectively, this one is mandatory reading.

πŸ“± App - Pocket I've been on the hunt for the perfect system to manage all the insights I learn from books and articles I read across the web. Pocket lets me quickly save videos, books, and articles all in one place, so I can read them later. Highlights then go to my Readwise account so I can review and remember what I have learned 😊

✍️ Quote of the Week

I think it’s far more important to write well than most people realise. Writing doesn’t just communicate ideas; it generates them. If you’re bad at writing and don’t like to do it, you’ll miss out on most of the ideas writing would have generated.

From Writing, Briefly by Paul Graham. Resurfaced using Readwise.

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