Wishing and Doing in USMLE Prep

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When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, everything your heart desires will come to you.’ From the movie ‘Pinocchio’ by Walt Disney

Wouldn’t it be nice if that were true? Just rub a magic lamp and your wish becomes reality. Win the million dollar lotto. Marry Prince Charming. Ace the USMLE.

But when we rely on a wish to make things come true, we devalue the hard work needed to make the wish into a reality. Spending our time waiting in line to buy lotto tickets will not make us rich. Instead work hard and save.

When we rely on a wish to fulfill our dreams, we waste efforts on things that may not be possible. Waiting for Prince Charming to show up is a waste of time. Instead take the time to consider likelier prospects.

You may argue, that wishing for something keeps me motivated. And that may be true to a certain extent. But it may also keep you from buckling down and doing the hard work needed to make it a reality. Or worse make you waste your time on things that may not be possible or beyond your ability.

I’ve seen people who have the ability to ace the USMLE and yet will not do what is needed to make it into a reality. They say they want it but won’t buckle down to do work. They always have an excuse why they don’t need to do that. They forget that wishing is not doing. And they have to DO to get their wish.


On the other hand, I have seen people who can do well in this exam, but lack the ability to ace it. They insist on holding to their dream, burn the midnight oil and burn themselves out in the process. They forget that wishing is not reality. And wishing and doing will not make the impossible, possible.

When I started my own prep, I did not resolve to get a 99 or ace this exam. That would have distracted me from doing what I needed to do well in the USMLE. What I did is to resolve to study the best way I can. To learn as much as possible and get the highest score I am able. The fact that it happened to be a 99/256 is coincidental.

Obsessing about a 99 won’t get you one. Obsessing about studying the best way you can, to learn as much as you can so you get the highest score you are able may help you get one.

If you can influence the outcome, then do the hard work to make it happen. If the outcome is beyond your control or ability, forget the possibility. it’s just a distraction and a waste of time. It won’t become a  reality anyway.

Everyone can pass the USMLE in one take, if they are willing to do the hard work. If they are not in too much of a hurry to take the time to do it right in the first place. But not everyone can ace the USMLE, no matter how hard they work. Or how much time they take.

Do it once. Do it right. Get it over with. Pass the USMLE Step 1 in one take. (and for some, not all, even Ace it)

      * * * * *

Call to Action

So now that you have decided you want to start doing rather than just keep on wishing. What do you do now?

Many times after finishing reading an article, a lot of people get motivated and excited, but in the end only very few people actually do something about it. I have been told via email by some of you that you need a step by step guide on what to do next. That you understand what you need to do, but need help in getting started. The devil is in the details.

Therefore, I will be writing a call to action section in each of my article that will detail what to do next. You can choose to follow it to the letter. Follow some and modify other steps to suit your own style or ignore the steps altogether and roll your own dough (dance to your own music, etc.)

First, you need to know everything about the USMLE Step 1, about the study skills and methods you need to do well in the exam and your own capabilities. You need to know what to do and how to do it right. You need to know how to tailor make your plan to suit your own situation.

You can do it the way I did it and research about all this stuff in the internet and buy books on how to study. It will probably take you between 2 weeks to 3 months to finish the research, collate the data, decide what is relevant, what is not, what is true and what is false and start reviewing.

Or you can do it the easy way. Buy my book ‘How to Master the USMLE Step 1: Askdoc’s method of USMLE prep’ from Amazon which details everything I have learned of how to prep for this exam.


For some of you, your time is very cheap, about less than 1 cent an hour and you would chose to spend 2 weeks to 3 months doing your own research. Some of you feel that your time is really precious, and would like to save yourself weeks of having to do the research yourself and just buy my book from Amazon for $9.99, spend 2 days reading it and know what to do. You can then spend those extra time you save prepping.

Of course there will be some of you who won’t bother to do any research or buy my book. Who will continue to keep on wishing without doing. Whose time has no value at all. Who will spend three to six months prepping and still fail this exam. The big question is of course, why you are still with us reading this.

Second, after you have read my book or done your research, you now know what to do in order to do well in this exam. You will understand how hard this exam is and what skills you need in order to pass or ace this exam. (If your research does not teach you this, you need to do more research. If you read my book, you know what to do)

So you will have a guesstimate whether base on your present capabilities, you have the capacity to ace this exam or just pass it. But the best attitude should still be to study the best way you know how, learn as much as possible and get the best score you can. And who knows you may even ace it. But with the book or your research, you now know if you can do it and how to do it.

Of course, if you chose not to do any research or buy my book, then I wonder why you are still reading this.

Third, you start prepping using the right methods you learned in the first two steps. Of course, if you did your own research, I can’t help you here since I don’t know what study methods you are using or how you are prepping. If you bought my book, then make sure you follow the guidelines there and make a checklist.

Are you using the right study materials the right way? Are you organizing the topics for easier retention and recall? Are you studying the materials correctly so you can retain and recall them faster, anticipate questions that will come out in the exam and be able to get the correct answers faster? Are you monitoring your progress regularly and following the suggested scores for passing the exam? For acing the exam?

Actually at this stage you can predict whether you have a chance to ace this exam or pass it. The results of the per chapter quizzes, per subject quizzes and the online q banks can help determine this. And using guidelines from the book, you can adjust your goals accordingly.

When doing questions, do you follow the guidelines on how to get the correct answer faster by doing the steps suggested in how to analyze tough questions? Are you following the steps on how to decipher clinical vignettes to increase your chance of getting the correct diagnosis? In reviewing your answers, are you following the step-by-step guide on how to get the maximum benefit from reviewing questions as detailed in the book?

If you follow these steps, you are assured that you are on your way to doing yourself to success, not just wishing for it.

 

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