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Tips and Trends: Balancing the Question with the Exam
Just as a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so every student confronts the USMLE* one question at a time. No matter how many questions comprise the exam as a whole, students never respond to the exam in its entirety, but to each individual question as it appears on the screen before them.
Peak performance on the USMLE depends on a delicate balancing act in which this focus on individual questions is tempered by an understanding of the mechanics of the exam as a whole. You respond to the exam at the question level, but the exam is scored on an aggregated level. Understanding how to make these individual responses result in the best overall performance is what test-taking strategies are all about.
Two of the most common emotional mistakes on the USMLE are the results of neglecting this delicate balance. On the micro-level, students getting too fixated on individual questions lose sight of the overall context of the exam. At the macro-level, students become overwhelmed by the exam as a whole and are distracted from the details of the question before them. The solution is to learn to focus on each question without getting bogged down and to keep the whole of the exam in mind without becoming dispirited by the task at hand.
1. Fixated on the Question
Your score depends on getting the questions right. However, any single question has relatively little impact on your final score. Your score depends not so much on what you do with a particular question, but on how you do on all of the questions that comprise the exam. Each question on the USMLE, whether short or long, easy or hard, has the same point value. This makes the math simple. Spending too much time on one question so that you do not have time for the other questions in the block can only hurt your score.
Remember that your score depends not on what you do with this question, but what you do throughout all the questions of the exam. Good exam strategy may require that you sacrifice working on a difficult question in order to preserve time for the questions that you have a better chance of getting right. In this sense, you are a chess player, giving up one piece to gain another, and sacrificing the individual question pawn to gain the larger objective of checkmating the exam.
The key to not getting bogged down on a particular question is to develop a sense of rhythm that will carry you through the exam. With practice, you will develop a sense of how much time you have to dedicate to individual questions. When that inner sense tells you that you are spending too long on a single question, listen to it and move on. Sometimes a question will stump you. When this happens, admit it, and move on to a fresh question to give yourself a fresh chance
2. Overwhelmed by the Exam
At the opposite end of the spectrum, thinking about the length of the testing day and the number of questions to be answered can convert the pile of questions that make up the exam into a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Dealing with all of those questions over the course of such a long day is beyond most people's expertise and experience. The very thought of the task instills a sense of uncertainty and foreboding in many test-takers. Remember, though, that you can do nothing to impact or change the exam as a whole. You are not even allowed to see the exam as a whole, but only to access it one block at a time. Therefore, there is fortunately no need to deal with "the exam."
Thoughts about the exam as a whole give you no basis for action. The only medium you are given for your responses is the individual question. If you feel overwhelmed by the exam, the right solution is to simply forget about it. The exam is beyond your reach. Focus on where you can have an impact—on the particular question before you.
Although the exam may seem overwhelming, each individual question is not. Each question represents a pre-cut, bite-size morsel for you to chew on and answer. You eat a meal not by focusing on the size of the prepared dishes, but by taking one mouthful at a time. Step by step, each question you face and answer represents its own victory, and each victory moves you closer to the end of the day. Forget the exam. Focus on the question before you, where you can make a difference
A Question of Balance
Focusing on individual questions allows you to concentrate but can lead to an unhealthy obsession with details. Thinking about the exam as a whole provides you with the perspective to help you break this obsession, but can make the exam seem larger than life and overwhelming. To borrow from another context, "think globally, but act locally." Your best exam performance comes from dedicating yourself to answering each question as it comes, all the while never losing sight of the larger context the exam provides. Learning this balance—learning to walk the tightrope of the USMLE—is a key part of your practice and preparation. Don't neglect it.
thank u all for having patience to read through
i hope it ll help u all
By any chance is it come from kaplans website (I got the same text from them today) :?: :wink:
yup so did i.......
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