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HOW TO USE UWORLD EFFECTIVELY FOR THE COMLEX LEVEL-1 AND USMLE STEP-1

When thinking about how you will prepare for the COMLEX Level 1, it is important to think about this topic. How to use Uworld effectively for the COMLEX Level 1. Using uworld questions the right way can make a huge difference to most medical students overall study schedule and can make a huge difference come exam day.

There seems to be two main ways people use the UWorld question bank to prep for their COMLEX Level-1 (and USMLE Step-1 if they plan to take it). Both of these methods utilize UWorld as a learning tool, some people will claim that they are waiting to use UWorld because they don’t want to “waste” the questions, this in my opinion is not a way to use UWorld… so I won’t be discussing this option.

We will be going over a very practical way to use your practice questions so as to maximize your study sessions.

The two main ways to utilize UWorld to get the most out of it are:

  • Tutor Random Mode
  • Tutor Subject Specific Mode

1. Tutor Random Mode:

The first way to use UWorld is in Tutor Random mode. When learning the content and doing practice questions I highly recommend that you use the question bank in Tutor mode. Later on, closer to your test date you should use it in timed test mode… but I will get back to that later.

Tutor Random mode is the best way to do it early on in my opinion, because it is designed to continue teaching you about the material. Tutor mode is not a test of your knowledge, but instead allows you to continue learning.

It is a great way to go through your first pass. It allows you to treat the questions seriously, then know the right answer immediately and use that to review material in your other review books or resources right on the spot.

The tutor part:

It is important to understand why you miss a question the second that you miss it. Or if you get it right why you got it right the second that you know.

This will give you the option to look at the explanation of both the correct and the incorrect answer choices immediately.

Using the question bank in tutor mode early on will make the entire question bank feel like a nice textbook that doesn’t bore you to death.

Also, in tutor mode you can reference other materials while reading the explanation of the current question. So, if you do the question and you want to look at more information elsewhere on the topic then you can leave that window open and go search out the information you wanted before ever moving to another question.

This will help group information on the topic from multiple sources and allow you to synthesize the content and better organize the content in your brain.



The Random Part:

I say to do it in random mode for two reasons… 1. the test is random and 2. random mode creates a sort of spaced repetition type sequence.

1. Doing questions in random mode will really help to simulate the testing environment every single day. If you don’t know that an entire section is on say, cardiology then you will force yourself to think through different topics in succession just like you will have to do on the test.

2. Hitting different topics multiple times at varying lengths is kind of like spaced repetition.

The first time you go through UWorld it is important to do it this way. Most med students want to jump right in and start testing themselves. Take as much time as you need to get the most out of each question.

Early on in your prep is not the time to worry about simulating the real test, you should be worried primarily about learning as much from each question as you possibly can.

Tutor subject specific mode:

The second way to utilize UWorld is in tutor Subject specific mode. This way is slightly inferior to Tutor Random Mode in my opinion, simply because you will know the subject of each question you are doing.

With that being said, I know plenty of people that did this method and scored well.

This is an area where I wanted to present to you these two ways and you can figure out what works best for you, as opposed to me just telling you what I did.

So, in this method you still do it in tutor mode and get all the benefits of that which I listed above, the major difference being all your questions are on one topic… say cardio or pulmonology.

The way people have done this is they will study the section in say First Aid or whatever they use. Then they will go in and select the individual section in UWorld and do only that section of questions.

This is a good concept to me because of the fact that you will cover all your cardio in succession, i.e. read then test.

Where I think this method falls short is that it may be quite some time before you return to a topic. Which in that time you can develop memory gaps and that can ruin all the work you put in… that’s just my opinion.

I know plenty of people that did well using both methods, so utilize whichever works best for you.

How many questions of UWorld should I do a day?

UWorld is a fantastic assessment tool and one that can make a huge difference in your prep and for understanding important concepts.

You should do between 20-80 questions per day depending on what point in your dedicated study period or general prep you are in.

There are two phases of board prep when it comes to UWorld.

The first phase is to use tutor mode, this means you have a ton of time to go over both the right and wrong answers.

The second is timed mode, that is more designed to mimic the actual exam and help you build stamina so you have enough time on the real deal.

When you are going through your pre-dedicated period you really want to get the most out of every single question, this is why it will take a little more time and the goal should be to do around 20 questions per day.

This is still while you are in med school and focusing on your regular courses, so you don’t need to overdo it, 20 questions per day is more then enough.

Then as you progress to dedicated study period you may be getting into your second pass of the Q-Bank, and if you reset it then you can go over 60-80 questions per day. You can treat these like practice tests or you can do them one question at a time.

I am a fan of both approaches and they both work very well.

How to use Uworld Effectively
Using UWorld the right way can make you this happy 🙂

How much time should I spend on UWorld?

You should spend a good percentage of tour total study time on UWorld.

If you have built a good foundation in your med school courses, and have utilized other board prep review sources like Pathoma or Boards and Beyond, then spending the majority of your time on UWorld is one of the most effective ways that test takers can raise their average score on almost all practice tests and practice questions.

One of the best practices when it comes to UWorld is to do a question, read the explanation, then go find that topic in your review book or anki cards. This allows you to really connect the dots across multiple platforms and it will make the content stick so much better.

When coming up with your study plan you should focus on doing lots of questions and be willing to spend extra time with each question in order to find the material in other review resources and adequately go over it so you can feel confident in both your base knowledge and the knowledge that you are building on top of it.

Should you do UWorld twice?

Absolutely! Doing UWorld twice in your Step 1 or Level 1 prep is super important and a total game changer for your score.

UWorld is touted as the gold standard, and doing it twice is super important.

One of the main concerns that people have when doing it twice is that they will remember the questions and the answers, but this isn’t nearly as problematic as it is made out to be.

Going through it a second time can be done on timed test mode and this is a great way to see how good your knowledge base is and to do a thorough content review of the entire test bank. Doing it this way allows you to basically do 40 questions or however many you choose in a row, then you take the time to review them all once you are done doing them.

What is the best way to use UWorld qbank?

The absolute best way to use the UWorld qbank is to treat it like a study tool as opposed to a way to test your knowledge.

If you use it to learn more information and stop focusing so much on getting a high score, then you will get all the important information you need out of it and I and many others think this is the best approach to use for it simply because it is a gold mine of information and those that are willing to take the time to learn from it will absolutely crush it.

Don’t focus on just finishing it or scoring high, focus on spending a ton of time and going over both the correct and incorrect answers so you can build your knowledge up to be testing on practice tests!

Summary

UWorld is a great resource to be used during both dedicated study time and the pre-dedicated period. Using it effectively and consistently will make a huge difference to your prep.

Focus on what you can learn from the qbank as opposed to how high you are scoring and you will do fantastic.

I hope this article has been helpful for you, please let me know in the comments how you did on your exam and how you use UWorld so others can learn from you as well.

Thanks for reading, Sean.

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