As you’ve experienced and heard, medical school is a lot to take in. Thousands of new terms and concepts are thrown at you daily. And that’s not to mention the prep for clerkships, residency appointments, and a career of providing medical treatment and guidance to patients. There’s a ton to learn in just a few years.
One of the keys to success is focusing your attention and efforts on high-yield information. Knowing how to recognize and retain it is an essential part of preparing for exams and your future as a physician. But first, what is high-yield information?
High-yield information is the most important pre-clinical information for medical students, meaning it is also the most likely to be on the USMLE Step 1 exam.
How to Identify High-Yield Information
High-yield information can be hard to spot. The best resource for identifying this material is your teachers and mentors; they have already been through the process, and they know what it takes to be successful in medical school.
Beyond that, the high-yield book for USMLE Step 1 — First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 — is an excellent resource during the first two years of medical school. After reading First Aid, it becomes far more manageable to identify high-yield information for Step 1 and med school exams.
To expand your knowledge further, use USMLE-Rx Qmax questions. These practice questions allow you to take the information you’ve learned and apply it to a clinical vignette to measure your understanding of the topic. It’s a zero-risk way to reinforce the material that you’ve learned in your lectures and from First Aid. It’s also a great way to get a high-yield, comprehensive USMLE Step 1 review.
The point of high-yield learning isn’t just to do well on an exam. This strategy also prepares you for the situations you’ll encounter as a medical professional working with patients.
As an example, let’s look at the baroreceptor reflex in cardiac physiology, which is a high-yield USMLE Step 1 topic. You know it’s high-yield information because it highlights how the body compensates in low blood pressure settings. Another way to determine that it’s high-yield information? The detailed explanation in First Aid and the USMLE-Rx Qmax questions focused on the concept.
Step 1 will test heavily on the basic science pathways of the baroreceptor reflex. And when you walk into a patient’s room and notice low blood pressure (hypotensive) and a fast heart rate (tachycardia), you’ll be able to identify that their baroreceptor reflex is in full gear and remember to assess the patient for shock. Sure, you can get questions on the baroreceptor reflex right on the Step 1 exam — but the real goal is to help patients in a clinical setting.
The Ins and Outs of High-Yield Learning
While there’s an overwhelming amount of high-yield information to memorize, your journey begins with understanding the information. Topics build from the information you’ve learned, meaning you need to comprehend one topic before moving onto the next one. Rx Bricks is the place to go if you’re running into material that you don’t understand or struggled with earlier in med school.
Understanding the difference between physiology and pathology is a great example. You have to learn the normal (physiology) before you can learn the abnormal (pathology). As a student, you have to understand how the body functions normally before you can grasp how it behaves under stress. And the stronger your knowledge of the material, the more information you’ll retain in the long term.
A focus on high-yield information can help you manage the material presented to you more easily. Concentrating on this material will certainly help you pass USMLE Step 1 — more importantly, it will help you become a great physician.
If you want help studying high-yield information, click here to get a free five-day trial of USMLE-Rx. You can test out all of our Step 1 tools, including Rx Bricks. Even after your trial is over, you will retain access to more than 150 bricks, including the entire collections for general microbiology and cellular and molecular biology.