Behind the scenes of Step 1

Step 1 is rough. For those who don’t know, Step 1 is one of 4 licensing exams a medical student must pass before being able to legally practice medicine in the U.S. (Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Skills, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge, Step 3). My step 1 study plan is on the blog here, but this post is to talk about the behind the scenes.

It was a brutal 6 weeks. I studied from 8 am to 6pm took a break to workout/shower/cook dinner and studied more from 8pm till I was sleep studying. I studied while I ate lunch. When I couldn’t focus I took my review videos to the treadmill and walked and went over material. I cried frequently. My SO was a champ, he held my hand, was a shoulder to cry on, cooked me some meals, ENCOURAGED me….I have so much thankfulness for him! He even became stressed out for me on several occasions –  stress energy is contagious!


I saw my scores climb and climb then suddenly drop. That was a real kicker in the guts sending me into all sorts of anxiety. I started having panic attacks just thinking about sitting down for the 8 hr exam. I began doubting myself, which is not the mindset you can have in medical school, let alone STEP 1. I had nightmares about failing or barely passing. I didn’t understand how calm others would be when I wasn’t, but then everyone is fighting their own battle.

But you have to go on. You have no choice. I couldn’t talk to other students or study with them because I felt like we would just feed off each other’s disdain. If it wasn’t for my loving SO I would not have made it out like I did. So surround yourself with an awesome support group and love them and care for them too when you can. Some fellow classmates decided to postpone third year to curb their stress. I couldn’t, I did not want to. I was BURNED OUT by week 5. I went into the exam and it was rough, I had the most obscure questions and I felt like nothing I covered again in week 6 was tested. 1 week after the fact I still feel stressed even laying on the beach in Florida.

To those about to go on this endeavor, here is my advice:
(1) Exercise daily
(3) You will survive

My view for 6 weeks.


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