Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Hello, faithful readers. Some of you may remember me as the Dating Expert for the world's greatest marginal medical school newsletter The Beat. However, since my last column, my license to practice dating has been revoked by the Illinois Board of Romance and Firearms. But you are in luck! As my fellow second-year students can attest, trivial distractions like dating have given way to the more pressing soul-crushing collapse of our sanity in preparation for the USMLE Step 1 exam. To help my classmates prepare for this test, and as part of my court-ordered community service, I have compiled a set of study tips that are guaranteed to either raise or lower your Step 1 score.

So, when should you start studying? Here is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that there is a large window to begin studying that can accommodate nearly everyone. The bad news is that is has already passed and you are behind. But there is no need to worry; here is an easy trick to estimate your score and put your mind at ease. For every day you aren't studying for boards, just subtract 1 from your total score. Think about that every single morning you wake up, and your stress will just melt away, just like your medical career!

So, now that you've already been studying for a few months, you are probably interested in some practice tests. How many USMLE exams have you taken? Well, that's not enough. I recommend finding some past exams, but not just the ones in the past few years. The really helpful stuff is in the past few centuries; that's where they really start recycling old questions for boards. The hard part is just translating the Old English, or “Olde Englische”. For example, in an 19th century medical exam entitled A Pamphlette Medicalle Boarding Write-About, “A 17-year-old woman with tuberculosis and portal hypertension” is written as “The consumptive maid was in hysterics over her liver dropsy.” Similarly, in the medieval Witch-Burning and other Plague Cures, what we would call “A man with poor hygiene, multiple boils and blisters, and likely infected with Yersinia Pestis” is simply described as “A man.”

It's fairly well known that one of our weakest areas is gross anatomy It's been almost a year since we've been in the cadaver lab, so it's understandable if you cannot remember what stringy parts connect the slippery bulbs in our torsos. Unfortunately, the selfish first-years are currently monopolizing the cadavers, so I recommend a simple solution to get more anatomy practice: find a first-year that looks like you, hold them hostage, build an elaborate disguise, and go to the labs in their stead (Helpful hint! Choose one the same gender as you.).

Another subject that many students struggle with is the mental health portion of the exam. Often overlooked by students studying for boards, it is essential for a high grade. Just remember, every psychological condition can be analyzed under the unshakeable foundation of Freudian psychology. Some may question its lack of plausibility, predictive value, or scientific relevancy in a time in medicine when we place value in “facts”, but, after a thorough review of the literature on the subject, I can confidently say that there is plenty of penis to use it.

Finally, if none of that works, you always have cheating. Cheating is what separates the good doctors from the great doctors. While good doctors are limited by so-called “honesty,” great doctors are only limited by their own imaginations and a flexible legal system. Don't you want to be that famous doctor who is the classic triple-threat, capable of cheating on his patient records, his taxes, and his wife?

So, good luck, class! With my help, we'll have the highest board scores yet! Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go feed the first-year I have locked in my closest.

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