“Cheat” Sheet for Answering Step 1 Questions

“Cheat” Sheet for Answering Step 1 Questions

A.    Think comprehensively across disciplines (subjects)

B.    Think of the question as a challenging but doable puzzle (serious fun)

C.   Remember that most of the questions are about knowledge you have, possibly from two or more different areas of basic science, presented in a scenario that they want you to reason through to  come to the answer

D.   Read the last sentence of the scenario


F.    Know that all the information you need to find the answer to the puzzle is there

G.   Find the clues you need to answer the puzzle

H.   Come up with an answer before you look at the answer choices

I.      Read ALL ANSWER CHOICES – is the answer choice you came up with before looking at the others among the choices? Is it the best answer? If yes, then select and move on. If it is not among the answer choices, then reread the question stem and begin process again.

J.    Look for the answer that will show up the most often in the hospital/clinic, rather than the oddity, that best fits the research or clinical scenario (the horse not the zebra)

K.    If nothing is coming to you – write out everything or anything to get your brain working. (see G)

L.    If you are confused, then diagram things out to clarify your thought processes. If you it takes more than a minute – mark an answer – then mark the question and come back to it at the end of the block when you have time

M.   Remain calm and know that everyone experiences problems with Step 1. Make the best educated “guesses” that you can just like the rest of us. That’s how all of us feel several times during the exam – except for the test takers with narcissistic tendencies.

N.   If needed, mark out answer choices you know to be false – consider ALL Choices

O.   Do not become over-involved in a question. Answer within one minute. Give it your best guess, choose and mark an answer, then mark the question to come back to at the end of the block if you have time.

P.    Do not mark more than 5-7 questions to return to in one block. You will not have time to go back to more than this amount of questions.

For suggestions on how to reason through Step 1 questions see a link to this posting: “Essentials for Reasoning Through Step 1 Questions

If you have any suggestions for answering Step 1 questions, we would love to hear them. Please share them with us at your discretion.

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