Αξιον Ωφελειν τους Αλγουντας.” --Be Worthy to Serve the Suffering.

Member Profile

Julie Rzeszutko (2017)
Member Type: Student, Senior Member Campus: Chicago
Specialty: Barnes Jewish Hospital Program: Internal Medicine
Advice
Non-designated study time (these are the highlights - can't remember what my exact plan was at this point):
- Finished U World once - when possible, I tried to do the questions by organ system that went along with whatever we were learning in path/CPP. Two birds one stone.
- I started out using an app that made my study schedule, but it ultimately proved to be overwhelming because it was hard to keep up with the schedule during exam periods.
- FIRECRACKER OR SOME FORM OF FLASHCARDS FOR PHARM AND MICRO - it's a lot of high yield information that requires a lot of memorization. During designated period, I was really happy I didn't have to focus too much on studying pharm and micro in huge overwhelming chunks because I had been using firecracker all semester.

Designated time:
- Cannot emphasize enough the "it's a marathon not a sprint" concept
-- 8 hours is a really long time to sit and take a test. I decided it was important to train myself to take a test for that long.
-- I took Step on a Friday. So every Friday I took a practice test, each week adding one extra block of U World to an NBME practice test.
-- I wanted my NBME scores to be as realistic representations of how I would do on Step as possible. So I inserted the u world blocks in between NBME blocks so that my NBME score would reflect sitting there testing for x number of hours vs. just 4 hours if I did all four blocks in a row.
-- That was all I did on Fridays. I enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and evening off, and Saturdays were light study days.
- I completed U world a second time. Printed out a calendar page and wrote how many blocks I had to do every day. X number on my practice test days depending on the week. No blocks the day before a practice test. Fewer blocks the day after one.
- I would knock out my u world blocks first thing in the morning, mixed with some pharm and micro flashcards.
- My day-to-day study plan was random. I just chose to review the topics I felt like I needed to refresh. I didn't feel like I needed to go through the First Aid and Pathoma on topics I felt confident about. I had a running list where I would jot down topics I wanted to look through as I thought of them.
- I studied in various places, just to keep myself sane. Mornings usually at home, different coffee shop or location on campus in the afternoon. The fresh air helps.
- I would go on what I called "Goljan walks". If I wanted fresh air but felt guilty about not studying enough, or if I was just too tired to focus, I would go for a walk and listen to his reviews and took notes on my phone whenever he explained something in a way I had never thought about so that I would remember it better.

Tips and tricks:
- Limit the number of resources: I primarily just used U world, First Aid and Firecracker / micro and pharm flashcards. I supplemented with Kaplan videos as I saw fit if something really wasn't sticking. I really only used Pathoma as a supplement if I didn't think FA was detailed enough on something.
- Make a list of "last minute topics" to run through the day before the test. Things that could be easy points if you were asked but they just require memorization so you always forget them. For example: most biochem things (glycogen storage diseases, a bunch of biochem pathways), things like maneuvers that enhance murmurs, EBM equations etc.
- Don't isolate yourself! Get lunch with friends! Study together if that's your thing. See your family. It's a stressful period of time, but they'll help make it less miserable.
- Accept that you can't and won't know everything. Learn to identify which topics are likely lower yield and shunt the time you would've spent studying them to more important topics.
- It's ok to take a day or even a weekend off!
-- Ultimately, you've been studying really hard for this test all year. Even when you weren't actively studying for it first semester, you were building the knowledge base and study habits you need to be successful. If you're feeling overwhelmed or a little burnt out...take a day off. In the end, one day will not make a huge difference in the great scheme of things.
- Don't neglect or underestimate the power of exercise!
- During the test, I put off any EBM math questions and questions where you had to listen to heart or lungs sounds until the end. I used ear plugs and didn't want to deal with taking them out and putting them back in. And personally I got frazzled trying to remember the EBM equations and would end up spending too much time on those questions if I did them mid-block.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: BE CONFIDENT!!!
It's easy to get in your own head during the test. Some blocks you might feel like you're getting more wrong than right and it's hard to not get discouraged. Trust that you've studied enough and have acquired good test taking skills. You know more than you think you do. If your testing site allows it (the one downtown does not but I know Lombard does), go outside and get some fresh air during your breaks. If you get overwhelmed mid-block, stop, close your eyes, take some deep breaths before moving on. I was frustrated at the beginning of my study time because my NBME scores weren't improving week to week. It was only when I really emphasized staying calm during my tests that I started getting the scores I thought I was capable of achieving.

Good luck!! You've worked so hard to get to this point - and once this test is over, the real fun of med school begins.