The clock will be your toughest opponent on test day. Even though the USMLE Step 1 lasts eight hours, you might find time slipping away from you. Here are some ways to beat the clock without beating yourself up:

Plan Ahead

Knowing is half the battle. Well before you step into the exam room, tests from the previous years. Practicing will help you feel more comfortable with the test format and gauge how long each section will take. If you find that you’re not finishing fast enough, identify and spend extra time studying for the sections that are slowing you down.

Flip Through the Exam

On the day of, start by skimming through the exam to determine the general difficulty level of each section, spot any potential problem areas, and adjust your time-management strategy accordingly.

Read Questions Critically

Slowing down when reading the questions may seem counterintuitive, but fully processing the question initially will help you in the long run. You’ll save time by avoiding constantly returning to the question to re-read, and possibly score higher by avoiding the misunderstandings that come out of rushing.

Work on the Easy Questions First                                                                         

If you’re stumped, move on. Taking a break from difficult questions may improve your chances of answering them correctly. Your subconscious will do the heavy lifting while you build your test-taking confidence by answering questions you can breeze through.

Don’t Finish Too Early                                                           

Think of each exam like Chopped. Whenever chefs finish early, it’s because they’re falsely confident in their creation; they usually lose. Use any remaining time to go over the exam and check your answers. Better to be cautious than to realize later on that you should’ve used that avocado reduction sauce instead of that blasé béarnaise.

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