I took (survived?) Step 1 about two weeks ago. Hence the reason I haven’t posted for a while. The test was a beast, there’s no way around it. Here are a few random thoughts about Step 1.
– I took about five weeks of full time studying to prepare. I did a little bit of studying as we finished up our last course of the year but ultimately it wasn’t very helpful. It was difficult for me to focus on two things at once. Five weeks felt just about right as I was definitely getting burnt out towards the end.
– The freedom of studying without pressing obligations is both a blessing and a curse.
– Some people I talked to from the previous year enjoyed studying for Step 1. They liked integrating all of the material from two years of school. Things that did not make sense started “clicking” for them. There is no way I could say I “enjoyed” studying for Step 1. Ultimately the constant stress wore me down and took away any pleasure I would have gotten from mastering the material.
– The stress and pressure was like white-noise machine running constantly in the background. You could ignore it and possibly even forget about it during breaks, but it was always there muting all other experiences and interactions.
– I regret not owning a copy of First Aid earlier. I wish I had used it throughout the first two years. It may not help with classes much, but I think it would have been worth it to be more familiar with the book. It’s easy to get through and would not have added much of a burden to study time for my courses.
– Test day was brutal but a relief. I took pretty much the whole eight hours and needed every bit of break time to re-focus my brain.
– Throughout med school (and even before) people were always telling me the worst was over. “Oh the MCAT, that was the worst test I ever had to take, nothing in med school compared. Oh first year of medical school was the most difficult. Oh, once you get past cardio, second year is a breeze.” I call BS. Step 1 was far more difficult than the MCAT, second year was harder than first year, and the classes never seemed to get easier second year. Of course, that was just my experience. But if someone ever says something similar to you, take it with a grain of salt.
– Where would I be without my wife? She had to put up with me stressing out over this test for what probably felt like eternity. She says I am just now starting to get back to normal. She’s amazing. Being in a relationship with a med student is no cake-walk, enter at your own risk. When I walk at graduation in a couple years I think they should give my a wife a medal or something. : )
Congratulations to all of you who have taken Step 1! I hope you get some well-deserved rest.