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Understand How to answer USMLE Questions

January 23, 2017
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The real evocation on the USMLE is not coming up with the correct answer, but understanding what issues are presented in the question. USMLE questions do not just ask you something, they also give you the clues to get the best answer. Many of those who have trouble with the USMLE are obsessed with “getting the right answer”. You have to understand what the question is and what will be its solution.

Understand the Question Stem:

The clue of getting the right answer is to be found in the question. The question stem carries the essential problem that you are required to solve, and gives you all the necessary information to solve that problem as well. Think of each item on the exam, not as a question to be answered, but as a problem to be solved. You have to check and understand every bit and every option they provided. Unless you have gathered the exact clues from the question stem, you will not get the question right. Trying to answer the question without converging clues is like shooting at a target without taking aim.

How to focus on the Question:

An excessive focus on the answer misses the essential information. You need to look, not so much for an answer, but for a solution. The correct mental preparation for the USMLE exam is not a student trying to please an imagined professor by giving the correct answer, but a physician trying to fix the problem presented by a patient. You can resolve the patient’s problem because you have seen it before. So, you will have to think more to derive a perfect solution of the questions.

Recognize your True Friends:

Learn to invent your true friends and allies during the USMLE exam. The options are the enemy and the question is your friend. The intention of the options is to fool you, to con you, to trap you into picking the wrong answer. The question stem is your ally. Only the question stem offers the key details, and you need to separate the wheat from the chaff and bring the best answer into clear focus.

Get rid of the pain of the Question:

We do not like questions and want to release each one as soon as we can. In our head our emotions appeal us to pick an answer, to get relief from the pain of the question. The problem is that our emotional attachment towards the options is simply to exit the question, rather than have the patience to figure out the right answer. Preparing for the USMLE exam is in part about learning to bear the pain of the question long enough to do the mental processes required in the presented options.

Success comes from learning to love the question. Read carefully. Collect the clues. Think about the problem sincerely. And then select the option that offers the best chance of providing a solution. Mastering in this sequence is the ladder that leads to a great score and a successful exam performance.

Advanced USMLE® Question Bank for Step 1 exam:

Becker’s question bank is ideal for students needing to identify strengths, weaknesses and learning needs. Question bank includes the following features and benefits:

A Full Detailed Assessment for All Questions

  • Provides instant remediation by offering detailed rationales for each question and explanation of best choice answers.
  • Vivid color illustrations, charts and tables, and detailed rendered art and references help explain every question and promote critical thinking.

Advanced Interactive Questions

  • Over 2100 questions with strong similarity to USMLE presented questions.
  • High degree of difficulty that is very predictive of exam performance.
  • Software interface integrates the feel of the exam.

Customized Test Plans

  • Provides you with a selection of specific subjects and systems to create customized blocks to master challenging subjects and improve your performance.

Unique Personal Dashboard

  • Allows easy monitoring by allowing you to see all your activity, track your progress, analyze your scores, review completed tests and retake tests at any time.

Continuous Updates

  • Continuous product improvement provides you with a question bank based on student feedback which makes the content current and relevant.

24/7 Accessibility

  • Access the question bank anytime, from anywhere, with any device.
  • Cloud-based access with all data being synched.

For more information check out Becker's exciting demo video below:

Success goes, not to those who can guess the best, but to those who have the patience to collect the presented clues. Identify the essential problem and reason to get the best possible solution. Once you fully understand the problem presented by the question stem, choosing the best answer is the easy part and the answer will come to you automatically.

The content is taken and reposted from THE PINNACLE from BECKER

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About the Author
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Dr. Steven Daugherty is the author/co-author of over 70 published papers and numerous book chapters and is Becker’s Director of Faculty and Curriculum. For the past 26 years he has worked preparing students to pass the USMLE, COMLEX and similar exams.

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