During the last few days before the exam you should be tapering off your studying, and getting into mental and physical shape.
1. This is not the time for cramming in new material, but a time to organize and integrate what you already know. Work on making what you know more accessible.
2. Review keywords, phrases and concepts. Look over your summary notes one more time. This is the time to drill yourself on essential information. The key is to practice recall, not simply read over the material again. What you need to know is probably already in your head. Your task now is to train yourself to access it when you need it. Doing practice questions is a good way to reinforce your recall skills. Only remember, practice questions are often harder than the questions on the real exam. Do not panic if you do not get them right. Use them to clarify your understanding of key details.
3. No one can know everything that is asked on this exam. Be honest with yourself about what you do and do not know. Knowing that you do not know something gives you more of a sense of control on the exam and makes you less likely to panic when you encounter the material and/or waste time on questions you are not likely to get correct. When you come to a question that you know that you do not know, simply mark your favorite answer choice nd move on!
4. Get yourself onto the right time schedule. Wake up every day at the same time you will need to on the day of the exam. This will get your circadian rhythm coordinated with the exam schedule. Do not nap between 8:00am and 5:00pm. Otherwise you will accustom your body to shutting down during the critical exam hours. If you get up at the right time each day, you will also find it easier to fall asleep at night. By getting into the proper sleep-wake cycle, you will find it easier to get to sleep the night of the exam as well.
5. You should be getting a sufficient amount of sleep. For most people that means at least 6 to 7 hours a night. Sleep is an essential time for your brain to consolidate what you have learned. You need sleep; it makes you a more efficient learner when you are awake.
6. Take some time each day to relax. Have a good meal. Take a walk in the fresh air. Find time for exercise. The change of pace will refresh you and the physical activity will help you relax and sleep at night.
7. If you haven't done so already, visit the Sylvan Center where you will be taking the exam. It will be indicated on your exam entry ticket. This will ensure you know how to get there and how much time you should allow for the commute. You can see where you should park, and see what the computer set-up is like.
8. If you have not yet done so, review the tutorial on the official USMLE CD-ROM. Become familiar with the interface, the location of key information on the screen and how to navigate between screens. If you walk into the exam familiar with the exam, you will not have to use any of your valuable break time to do this on the test day.
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