Friday, February 20, 2015

Study tips: Anxiety for test day

This is my first time talking to anyone I follow on anywhere... Be it twitter or tumblr. I am not very involved in social media, but I guess I am a bystander.

I am messaging you because I am in a bit of a dilemma. I am writing my USMLE step 1 exam in 5 days. I have been studying for it, believe it or not, for 2 years.

In this time, I have been home, my parents looking after me after I had gone to a med school on the island. I suffer from text anxiety... So like in the middle of the exam my brain just gives up, I feel at loss of hope. I just get this overwhelming feeling of failure.

I have bought the exam twice now and my date is scheduled for the last day possible. My parents are just fed up and they want me to get moving with my life. I have inconveninced them.

I have written all the NBMEs and I have never got a score above 300. I study so hard, but I hate to memorize if that makes sense. I have watched all the Kaplan videos, all the DIT videos and I have completed both Q banks. I know everything, but when it comes to route memorization... I can't do it for some reason, because I have this fear of it even is going to stick. I don't know what to do and I hoped some wise words from you might help me. You have some awesome things to say and they helped me lurch back up on a low day. I am literally trying to fly the coop right now.

Hope I am not intruding with my story.

- Email from an awesomite


I'm glad you chose to speak to me.

The USMLE step 1 exam is scary. And it gets scarier as it gets closer. I had scheduled it on the last day too! My mum needed to go abroad and I had inconvenienced her. I never scored above 300 either in my NBME. But I got a good score on my step.

I'm telling you this to assure you that this is normal. That many have gone through the feelings you're going through and have made it before you. That you're not alone. That there is always hope.

You made it through various exams as you got here. Let's do this and get done with it. You have studied and you can trust yourself in midst of self doubt. You can do this.

You shouldn't be afraid of consequences. You've given your best shot. You have worked hard. Be confident that it'll work out for you in the best possible way.

Now this is a personal belief - I believe that not all five fingers are the same. Everyone is unique. That you have your own limitations and strengths. So some will score better than you, some won't. Accept it.

Once you have done your preparations well and that there is not one more thing you could've done, you must not worry about the results. Everything happens for the best. There's a good reason behind why things don't work out the way we want to - we don't see it right now but it doesn't mean it's not there. So I'm content with the results even before they come out.

I also believe that scores don't matter. That you can do wonderful things with your life without the scores. Yes, a good score will help you feel good about yourself and open doors - but a fear of a bad score shouldn't fill you with despair. The little anxiety you get should help you work hard, not come in your way.

I understand your memorization dilemma. Remembering things comes to us with repetition whether we like it or not.

There's not much you can do 5 days before the exam. But if there are certain high yield facts that you know you have not memorized - You can store facts in your short term memory and then forget them forever. We are capable of it. So you can't memorize everything, but please do what you can!

On the exam day: Focus on the question. Don't let your mind wander - go into past disappointments or future failures. Stay there. Read the question. What's the best answer to this question? Hmm.. This is an interesting one. What could the answer to this be? What are they trying to tell me in this question? Oh I don't know about this - will read about it later. The hints they're giving me are awesome. Ooh. This is a tricky one! I likey! I love medicine and it's enough. I'm living my passion. I'm lucky to be here. And that positivity, I tell you, will pull you through and give you hope.

I'm glad the things I said helped you. I hope this does too.

You're not intruding, be free to message me whenever you like (:

I understand that you might not get the time to reply after reading this - so I'll hear from you after the step. All the very best to you. I'll pray that you do well.


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