How Often Should You Do Practice Tests for USMLE?

How often should you do practice tests for USMLE? Follow this article to find the most effective study guide to ace the USMLE exam.

May 13, 2022

How often should you do practice tests for USMLE? In addition to 4 years of undergraduate study and 4 years of clinical school, there seem to be a number of examinations you’ll need to pass in order to become a doctor, including those that are very difficult, such as the MCAT and the USMLE. Practicing with practice tests is one of the most helpful tools for preparing for these examinations. Here’s how to make the most of them to your advantage.

When it comes to being comfortable with an exam, there is no better method to do it than by using practice exams. Frequently, these questions are taken directly from previous examinations. Additionally, it assists you in building the endurance necessary to go through a multi-hour test. It may seem more enticing to use notes or preparation materials to study for a test, but there is no quicker method for preparing than to take a seat and go through problems and complete full-length practice examinations.

how often should you do practice tests for usmle

I can spend all day researching how to play basketball, but until I go out on the court and put in the necessary time, I will not notice any significant progress. It should be noted that when using practice examinations, there are appropriate and inappropriate methods of doing so. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

How do utilize practice questions and tests effectively?

Know the effectiveness of practice tests

Before we get started, please keep in mind that practice examinations are full-length and designed to mirror your real test-taking experience. It is recommended that you employ the same block duration constraints and breakdown lengths for them as you would for the other testing interfaces in your testing environment.

Practice questions, on the other hand, do not have any sections or pauses, and they are normally one page in length. For those studying for the MCAT or the USMLE, you may create a block of questions and go through them at your own speed to prepare for the exam. It’s important to stay on track with the time restriction for each question block whenever possible since working within the time limit is crucial to having a successful test day. AAMC question packs may also be used to generate full-length practice exams by merging practice questions from other question packs.

Aside from textbooks, practice questions may also be found in other publications such as study guides and study guides. You should refrain from consulting your notes or searching for a solution on the internet in these cases. The ability to actively learn is a significant benefit of practice questions. You are, in effect, short-circuiting the system and reducing its overall effectiveness to the maximum degree feasible.

Make regular and early use of practice tests

For fear of “wasting” their time when studying for the MCAT or USMLE, most students put off taking a practice test for an extended period of time before doing so. As a consequence, your grade will suffer as a result of this situation. It is important to establish a baseline since it will enable you to track your progress during the project’s duration. In addition, you want to understand your own personal strengths and weaknesses so that you may tailor your research to those areas that need improvement.

As a stand-alone study aid, practice questions, in addition to acting as a kind of active learning, are quite effective in terms of increasing retention. As we’ll see in a minute, although it may seem paradoxical, employing practice questions and tests may really help you learn a great deal about a subject matter. Wait until closer to the test date to use the exams that have historically been the most “predictive,” such as personality tests. Included in this category are the AAMC Full-Length MCAT and the NBME Step 1 Exams.

Considering that the MCAT or USMLE normally takes six to ten weeks to prepare for, it’s critical that you take as many practice exams as you can throughout that time frame. How often should you do practice tests for USMLE? To get started, you may take a practice exam every two weeks for the duration of your study period. Once a week is the best frequency. Following your progress and identifying weak areas, as well as teaching you things like pace and how the exam will most likely analyze subjects, you will undoubtedly get valuable knowledge as a consequence of this.

Recreating the testing conditions

For many students, taking an exam may be a stressful experience. Understanding what to expect on exam day can help you to feel more confident and calmer on the day of the test. When taking practice examinations, make an effort to replicate your test-day schedule as well as the testing environment. The MCAT and Step 1 exams are typically held at 8 a.m., and you should arrive at least 45 minutes early to check in for your appointment.

In order to prepare for the exam, you should wake up at the same time every day and follow the same routine as you would on test day. Consistently maintain a professional look and eat the same meal every morning. It’s a good idea to take your practice exam at a location that is different from where you often study. Simulating a new environment, complete with unexpected annoyances and sounds, may be beneficial in alleviating some of the discomforts.

Libraries provide good study spaces since they are typically calm while yet being busy with students studying for exams. However, libraries are not always silent. It is possible that earplugs or earmuffs may be required on the big day, therefore you should use this strategy to get acclimated to the sound of background noise.

There will be pauses in the practice exams, just as there will be in the real test, to allow for questions to be answered. These breaks will allow you to get more familiar with the tasks you’ll be doing on test day. During this time, you may want to use the restroom or get something to eat quickly. Others choose to just go on their way. This is an excellent moment to experiment with fresh ideas.

For the majority of youngsters, many short breaks early in the day are the most useful, with longer breaks reserved for lunch and the second half of the day. The most essential thing to remember while preparing for a mock test is to concentrate on the questions. If you finish them at random, without the same degree of attention that you would bring to a test question, you will lose a significant amount of their worth.

Review questions and performance

Many students fall short of completing this critical stage of the writing process. To prepare for my MCAT test throughout my preparation period, I would spend most of my days just studying for my exam or spending a chunk of the next day going over each question one by one. To complete Step 1, I spent around an hour per block, plus an additional two or three hours of review time. Exam preparation would often take up more of my time than actually taking the examinations themselves!

You may utilize this as an opportunity to gain knowledge, which can make a significant difference on test day. In the same vein, even if you are well familiar with the content, you may still get a question wrong. It is vital to the success of the remediation procedure that the source of the issue is identified. Is there a miscommunication going on here? It’s conceivable that you’ve gotten comparable thoughts jumbled up with one other. Make sure you don’t make the same errors again on test day by learning from your experiences now.

Being able to explain why a certain response is accurate is equally as important as being able to explain why other answers are wrong. You should be able to complete this task with or without a study buddy. Before going on to the next question, double-check that you understand the underlying ideas of the previous one. Create flashcards to help you recall subjects and questions that you find yourself forgetting often. Anki is a terrific tool for creating and reviewing your own flashcards, and it is completely free.

Understand your weaknesses and limitations

Practicing for tests and responding to sample questions can allow you to have a better grasp of your own limitations and strengths. Depending on the practice test, you may even be able to view a breakdown of your relative strengths and weaknesses in the form of a category breakdown. It is possible to use this strategy to identify areas that need more investigation in order to tailor your study.

You may want to reevaluate your strategy if you’re studying for the MCAT and you’re consistently missing questions on optics in physics, for example. If this is the case, you might consider performing additional subject studies or more focused practice questions; nevertheless, most of the time, a combination of both is employed to great effect.

Prior to the big day

In the event that you’ve been getting adequate sleep and waking up regularly in preparation for the test, go on as you typically would. Many students, like myself, experience insomnia as a result of the stress of an upcoming exam, which emphasizes the need of maintaining a normal sleep and waking routine well in advance of test day.

Don’t try to cram too much information into the day before the test. At this point, it is more likely to hurt you than to benefit you, since it will cause you to overwork or stress you out even more. All of your hard work has finally paid off, and it’s time to put your trust in it. Also, now is not the time to start a brand new workout or eating plan that will be difficult to maintain. Make sure you take it easy and keep to your routine.

You should double-check all of your morning preparations, including identification, test center paperwork, as well as food and beverages. Given the current weather conditions, you may also want to bring earplugs and additional clothes in case the temperature lowers or increases unexpectedly. You may also wish to bring a face mask.

You should approach today as if you were sitting for a practice test. Whatever the situation, whether it’s a class final or a more critical exam like the MCAT, coming early is usually a good idea in case there are any delays. Aside from that, you’ll have a few more hours to use another bathroom and get settled.

how often should you do practice tests for usmle

NBME Self-Assessment for USMLE preparation 

Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessments (which are popularly known as CBSSAs for short) cover topics most closely connected to the USMLE test, despite its unassuming name. Practice tests are one of the most important resources for students who are studying for and preparing for the USMLE. However, many students are not aware of how to successfully utilize these practice examinations for this reason. Learn how to get the most out of these essential practice examinations in order to help you overcome and pass the USMLE examination in this comprehensive guide.


The Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment (CBSSA) category on the National Board of Medical Examiners website presently has six practice exams. Individual exams may be arranged online for a fee of $60 per examination. There are no longer any official examinations available from the National Board of Medical Examiners, although they may still be obtained on unofficial websites. A large number of students do not take advantage of these antiquated tests, thus you are not required to do so.


It is important to note that there are two significant distinctions between these practice tests and the actual Step 1 exam. To begin, the NBME practice tests are separated into four sections, each of which has 50 questions. Each section is divided into four sections. To complete each phase of the test, you will have 1 hour and 15 minutes, and 5 hours to complete the whole exam, with each question taking 1 minute and 30 seconds to answer correctly.

Each section of the Step 1 exam comprises a total of 40 questions and seems to last for a total of one hour and forty minutes (7 hours total). Firstly, the NBME practice exams differ from the actual test in terms of their user interface, despite the fact that they are prepared by the “official” organization, the NBME. The NBME practice exams are also available in Spanish. The question banks and test prep provided by UWorld are the most authentic approximations of the genuine testing environment available anywhere.


When the first practice exam will be held is a contentious subject issue. Those who believe it really should be taken immediately, before you begin your study session, are in the minority. A poor mark on a test so prematurely in the semester, on the other hand, can motivate you to put in more effort in the rest of the semester. Additionally, you could get an understanding of your own personal vulnerabilities.

Those who say it is a “waste” of one of the six key study tools are mistaken, but only if the test is not thoroughly scrutinized after it has been administered and scored. Following this line of reasoning, I decided not to take an exam at the start of my study period. Rather than taking the First Aid course, I opted to take the first practice test directly following my first passing exam.

Regardless of whether it’s your first or second option, you should take a practice exam many weeks (typically at least six weeks) before your real test date. It is impossible to overestimate the significance of having a starting point. As a consequence, you’ll have to reconsider your approach to studying (if you score below a 200 on your first practice test, in particular, this can suggest that you will need a more intense dedicated study period to catch up).

Allow at least one to two days between each of the following examinations so that you may thoroughly study the answers to the questions. The UWORLD self-assessment is divided into four sections, and some test-takers combine two of the four parts with a 5-hour NBME practice exam to get a feel of how long the actual exam will be (2 hours). Additionally, others believe that one test should be conducted during the week prior to Step 1 at the very least.

Personally, I devoted that week to reviewing previous questions and concepts, as well as completing my last practice test 10 days before taking the actual exam. It is true that taking a test or two the week before an exam may relieve some of the tension associated with addressing new and challenging questions; nonetheless, many students find this strategy to be successful and do well on their tests.

Big day

Each practice test should be approached as if it were a genuine exam in which you are participating. As a result, you should begin at the same time as you would begin the Step 1 exam (generally at 8:30 a.m.). A good rule of thumb is to finish all of your practice examinations in a single session and in a location where you will not be distracted by other students or the outside world as much as possible.

In order to assist you in becoming comfortable with the testing environment, some recommendations have been created. Additionally, in addition to your present knowledge background, your ability to maintain concentration throughout the examinations will be important to your success on these assessments. It is thus as important to persuade oneself of the importance of each individual exam on an emotional level as it is to maintain a stable environment.

Exam review

You may study any and all questions on the NBME by capturing screenshots while taking the exam, either with a tutor here or through online sources. Take screenshots while taking the test. The importance of reviewing both your mistakes and the questions that were correctly answered cannot be overstated, and it is ultimately the reason why you should take these tests. After completing such a long exam, you may be tempted to skimp on the review of the questions you have answered. Refrain from caving into the pressure around you. As an alternative, set aside one or two days to go through all of the information completely and commit it to memory.

Final countdown

You will get a raw CBSSA score at the completion of each exam, in addition to the three-digit score conversion table. Exam-specific conversion tables may change over time, even for the same exam, as more test-takers are added to the National Board of Medical Examiners database. As a consequence, if you don’t buy the exams and instead get them illegally online, be cautious of obsolete, third-party NBME conversion tables that are available online. It is possible to claim that the three-digit score on the practice exam is essential in this situation. In the first place, it is presumed that the score accurately reflects one’s knowledge, and second, that the score is a good predictor of one’s performance on the test

In both cases, this is just partly true, but it is still accurate. A score of less than 230, on the other hand, suggests that more inquiry is necessary. A score of more than 240 suggests that the student has a thorough comprehension of the content. With the exception of the rare case in which results are clustered in extremes, no NBME score pattern is likely to accurately represent your performance on the actual exam.

It is vital that you understand and comprehend this notion as early in the planning process as possible. If you don’t want to waste your time reading through untrustworthy forums or listening to other students claim false score connections, there is no need to spend hours browsing through untrustworthy forums. Consequently, you will have less stress and will be better able to focus on what truly matters: properly scrutinizing all of the questions and soaking up as much knowledge as you possibly can during your test.

How often should you do practice tests for USMLE? Let’s get started with our free USMLE practice test to pass the exam on the first try with a high score.

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