When I was practicing for my Step I exam, I often found myself frustrated. I would take what seemed like a simple case, find some minute detail, and then pick some crazy complex answer. Eventually, I found a strategy that helped me get over that: treating the patient in the question like a real one.Read More
This week, one of our Master level tutors shares the most commonly forgotten test taking strategy: know the testing policy. Greg's anecdote sheds light on the responsibility of the student and the tutor to learn the policies of the test, and understand what motivates test policy changes.Read More
As the weather turns cooler it can happen that college life is not all apple picking and pumpkin spice flavor. Around this time, especially if you are taking classes where the professor had to teach you some skills and content before it was fair to give you assignments or exams that tested your knowledge, you may be looking at some papers or exams upon which are inscribed grades that surprised you—and not in a good way. This is a very common experience. You are not alone, although it may feel that way. What to do?Read More
In this blog post, I’ll be talking about some of the study habits that I used both during the year and during my intensive study period (the time that BU had designated for exclusive Step I preparation). The most important piece of advice I could have for someone preparing for the step exam is to start early. Also, every week or so, designate some time to reflect on how things are going. Ask yourself “What’s working? What’s not working? How do I reduce the second column and augment the first?”Read More
The English language comprises a plethora of words that can change meanings with the addition of a prefix or a suffix. For example, the prefix re signifies that the base word to which it attaches is happening again, as in "do" and "redo". In theory, one could add re an infinite number of times to the front of a word, and the effect would continue to do the same thing; the word's function would be repeated however many times the prefix re appears. The fact that such a pattern exists in English recalls an aspect of the language (there it is again, re in recall to call to mind again) that dates back to its origins. As much as English is a language full of exceptions to the rules, it also presents patterns that, when understood, can shed light on how and why we use the words that form the English language.Read More
We've covered a wide range of territory in the past 4 months, from developing skills in mindfulness-based stress reduction to fine-tuning our routines, diets, and athletic activities for optimal academic success. What results from this potpourri of advice and ideals can be, paradoxically, a sense of pressure to strike the perfect balance in our lives, attaining good grades without sacrificing our physical health, our time with friends, or our space for self reflection. Many high-achieving students are driven by a sense of perfectionism that can feel overwhelming, so how can we best harness it? While still achieving the big dreams that we have?Read More
In this blog post, I’ll be covering an extremely important part of your USMLE step I preparation: Materials. In thinking back to my Step I preparation, I realized that I needed four specific tools: Primary sources, a tool to retain information, questions, and a tool for self-evaluation. The specific implementation of this doesn’t matter very much, but I’m going to define what I mean by each of these tools and provide examples of what worked best for me.Read More
Debunking the Myth of Cramming
AP U.S. History was a nightmare for me. When did Abraham Lincoln pass the Emancipation Proclamation Act? Did the Alien and Sedition Acts happen under the Adams or Jefferson administration? My problem spilled over into other disciplines: did magnesium sulfate dissolve in water? Did government subsidies affect supply or demand? I responded to my shortcoming the way high school students do across America: I crammed more and slept less.
To no one’s surprise, I did terribly. Only later during a college neuroscience course would I really learn why. Memory, it turns out, does not work like a camcorder. Not every moment spent with your notes is worth the same, and not every memory is recalled perfectly.Read More
One of the differences between high school and college can (depending on your particular experience) be how much you know about what you are going to be reading and when, and what days your exams and papers will be. Professors may have different levels of detail but generally speaking the syllabus is supposed to tell you what you’ll be reading, when your assignments will be due, how your grade will be calculated, what you have to do to pass, fail or excel in the class, the rules of the class (the absence policy, what happens if you text in class, can you turn in your work late?), and sometimes the rules of the University that affect the class, like what would happen if someone cheated. Most importantly, your professor and the University assume that you know and understand the policies on the syllabus. At the end of the course, you can’t say you didn’t know about a requirement you didn’t meet or a rule you broke if those things are clearly spelled out on the syllabus. It’s helpful, too: don’t have the money to buy all the texts immediately? The syllabus will tell you which ones to buy first. And you can hightail it to the university and public libraries to see if you can check out any of the required texts.Read More
One of the greatest challenges of our generation is the nearly constant distraction and temptation that technology affords us, from opening a new tab on our web browser to surfing apps on our phone. How do we harness all of the positive connectivity that these tools offer us, without feeling that our lives are dominated by them?