How To Take And Study An NBME For USMLE Step 1 Properly

If you are studying for the Steps, I am sure you get chills when you plan on taking an NBME. Many students get nervous when they realize they have to take the NBMEs.

Today I will explain when you should take an NBME and how you should study your NBME to get the most out of it.

First all, if you just came out of the medical school do not take any NBMEs yet. I highly recommend everyone to at least go over First Aid and USMLE World once and then take the NBME. Now you might ask why?

The reason why I recommend to take NBME after completing one pass of FA and UW is so that you feel a peace of mind. Not only that, but you will also feel much more confident taking it.

Next, when you decide to take your NBME, always take it early in the morning or as soon as you wake up. Of course after breakfast! This way your head will be clear, and you will be focused.

Do not cheat while taking NBME. You have to treat it like a real exam even though NBME only has four blocks. Make sure you have a pencil or pen, two blank white papers, and an eraser. These are the only materials I recommend you to have before you begin. Do not have any water while taking the exam. Now, you might say why not?

The reason is on your real exam you are only allowed to have two dry erase boards and markers. They do not permit you to take any water while taking the exam. That’s why you should stimulate the same system at home.

After each block, take 5 to 10 minutes break for washing face and snacks. Once you complete the exam and get your fabulous score, just relax. Even if you get a very low score its ok!

Next day, you should go over entire NBME. You can easily find all the questions and answers in Google. Go over each and every single question and mark the tested concepts in First Aid. Now be careful not all the answers you will find online are 100% accurate. So you will need to double check the answers from a trusted source like Usmle World, Kaplan, BRS or Robbins.

Next, you should study all the concepts that you marked on First Aid thoroughly. Because on your next NBME, they will test you on the same concept in a different way.

For example, if you had an NBME question on Friedreich’s Ataxia and it’s association with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy chances are they will ask you a different question on Friedreich’s Ataxia with a different association on your exam or another NBME. And this is why I highly recommend everyone to study the entire concept.

Overall, before you take your real exam, you should take at least three NBMEs. And if you add the number of questions there should be total 600 questions. Make sure you go over all of them correctly and mark them on First Aid.

If your NBME scores are very low and you are struggling with studying for Step feel free to contact me. I offer tutoring session over Skype at an affordable price and helped many students to score very high on the exam. Click here to contact me, or you can also visit my dedicated USMLE tutoring website

How to Enhance Your Brain to Study Faster

As a doctor to be you should know by now that you are what you eat. It’s imperative that you have a proper diet in order for your brain to function. Cookies and milk is not going to do if you want to kick butt in the USMLE exams.

You have the ability to master how much and how fast your brain can absorb information as you study for the USMLE. Now a lot of medical students in the US and in the Caribbean use stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin, illegally or legally.

My advice is do not get them illegally, as a matter of fact if you don’t need them then don’t use them. Adderall and Ritalin has side effects which can deplete your dopamine reserves leading a person to short-term depression and anxiety; also those drugs are very dangerous for people with heart conditions such as arrhythmia.

Some of us can’t get those stimulants and so we need an alternate source. There are so many nootropics I used but I had to prepare myself for it over time; I’ll write a separate post about it. The following are the basics which will enhance your focus and it will do so in a subtle manner.

  • Multivitamins
    If you studied biochemistry well then you should know that multivitamins are very important. As medical students we cannot get all the vitamins and minerals that our body needs to make the proper amount of dopamine and other neurotransmitters.If you look at the catecholamine syntheses of the USMLE First Aid, you will see the cofactors that’s required for the synthesis of dopamine, which is a very important for studying.
  • Fish Oil
    Whether you deny it or not, research shows that the omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, in fish oil benefits the brains. Omega-3 fatty acids increases the myelin sheaths around the axon of the neuron, which allows the individual to think faster and recall things faster.Those East Indians, Chinese, and Japanese consume heavy amounts of fish and you wonder why they get those high scores. Of course you can’t eat fish all the time because of the mercury content, so when I studied I bought isolated and purified fish oil with high amount of omega-3 fatty acids. I take a teaspoon of it every other day.
  • Focus Formula
    This type of supplement helps a lot only if you take it with coffee. Studying for the USMLE is very boring and you need something to keep you going. It’s very easy to lose focus and lose motivation, but Focus Formula has the right combinations of balanced noortropics, in order to enhance your learning.
  • Magnesium (Updated on 1/31/2014)
    Magnesium is one of the most depleted minerals in our body. And with depletion it causes tremendous amount of anxiety and brain fog. I take almost 200 mg to 400 mg every night because it helps me relax and go to sleep easily. Magnesium is also great for the heart.For those with anxiety and stress and loss of focus add Magnesium glycine to your daily diet because other Magnesium has poor absorption, especially the ones you get in the multivitamins.
Please make sure you eat properly and exercise often for these to work. Also, you have to be consistent, you probably won’t notice anything until 2 weeks or more. You have to take them everyday to fully get the benefits.

Timeline to be a Medical Doctor in the US

Being a doctor in the United States is very tough, tougher than anywhere in the world in my opinion. It’s vey important to know what you are getting yourself into before you sign up for a career that will take close to a decade before you make the big bucks.

Of course making money shouldn’t be your primary reason to go into medicine because you will most likely fail. You should like medicine for medicine and money is the bonus that comes with the profession.

The following is an ideal timeline for everyone to be a doctor:

  1. Medical DoctorUndergrad
    You can graduate college with any major but you should take the pre-medicine classes. These are the pre-requisite for getting into medical school in the US and in the Caribbean. The classes are:
    – 8 credits of biology with labs
    – 8 credits of general chemistry with labs
    – 8 credits of physics with labs
    – 8 credits of organic chemistry with labs
    – 4 or more credits of biochemistry
  2. Take the MCAT
    Whether you go to US or off-shore school, taking the MCAT is a must. All your pre-medicine classes will prepare you for the MCAT. However, you will have to study independently for the MCAT as it is harder than the USMLE exams according to some.
  3. Apply to Medical School
    Applying to medical school is a tedious process and you have to run around taking care of papers for various requirements.
  4. Medical School – Basic Sciences
    Whether you go to a US school or off-shore school, the basic science foundation is required in order to set the foundation of medicine. You need to go over various topics in medical school: physiology, pathology, microbiology, anatomy, histology, ethics, biochemistry, etc.
  5. USMLE Step 1
    After basic sciences you need to sit down for the USMLE Step 1. It’s a computerized test where you have to answer over 300 questions in one sitting.
  6. Medical School – Clinical Clerkship
    The last two years of medical school deals with clerkship in the hospital. You will be given hands-on-learning experiences with doctors and other hospital staff. These years are very important as this will give you an exposure of the healthcare environment. You are not expected to know everything or learn everything but this exposure will help you gain experience.
  7. USMLE Step 2 CK and USMLE Step 2 CS
    These two tests are taken within the clinical years. USMLE Step 2 CK is just like the Step 1 as in sitting in front of a computer and answering questions. The USMLE Step 2 CS is a practical exam where you will perform doctor interview tasks in front of an actor.
  8. Apply for Residency
    Residency is a tedious process where you have to go through a list of programs which you are interested in. These programs can be limited to you if your application is poor as in if you got low USMLE scores. So you need to gain the highest score possible in your USMLE board exams.
  9. Residency
    Residency is at least three years and you need to contribute 60-80 hours a week with at least 3 weeks of vacation time per year, which depends on the program. You will take the USMLE Step 3 during this time and your residency program will pay for that. After residency, you will be able to sit for the state board exam such the internal medicine board exam or the family medicine board exam and get your license. If you are in other residency programs such as pathology, psychiatry, OB/GYN, surgery, or pediatrics, etc. you may have to serve residencies longer than 3 years.
  10. Fellowship
    If you plan to specialize such as in cardiology or nephrology, then you would train for another 3 years in fellowship after residency.
As you can see, training to be a doctor in the United States is a long process touch process. You have to be mentally ready to handle the exhaustion and commit.