The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a three-step examination for medical licensing on the American soil. If you are a medical graduate aspiring to practice medicine in the United States, you have no other choice but to acquire a license. How? The answer is simple! Enroll for USMLE Examinations, prepare adequately, do the exams and pass. Just that. It might sound simple, but in truth, it is a long and arduous process. Having a great tutor can make a difference between passing with flying colors and giving up in desperation.

Starting with the preparation

I know that you must have worked very hard to go through medical school and complete your studies, and for that congratulations are in order! Now that you finally graduated you need to take the next step before you can practice medicine in the US. What you need to do next is to acquire a license. You cannot become a physician in the United States without being licensed. To get a license you have to pass the USMLE exams.

Given the importance, difficulty, and necessity of the USMLE exams, it’s crucial that you look for the right resources when preparing for these exams. With plenty of available information both on the internet and elsewhere, it may be quite tricky choosing the best resources when studying for the tests. Therefore, you need a tutor who will not only help you get ready for the USMLE exams but also help you with the application process.

a hand holding a pencil over an exam

Why you need a tutor

You need a helping hand when preparing for your exams. Don’t try to be bold and do everything by yourself. You will not make it alone. The knowledge required is really extensive so you need someone who has gone through the same process and who can provide you with keen insights to help you succeed. Otherwise, you may end up failing, not because you didn’t study enough but because you did not follow particular guidelines when answering the questions. Here is how a tutor can help you pass your licensing examinations:

  • A tutor will help you acquire a proper strategy for studying questions. Naturally, there are practice tests and study guides readily available. However, it can be challenging to find the time to intensively go through each question and the incredibly detailed notes that accompany them. Unless you are already familiar with the exam, you may not know which parts are particularly challenging. Naturally, tests change over time, so previous strategies or skills may not be relevant today. Having a dedicated tutor who keeps track of the changes will help you develop a proper studying strategy and enable you to choose the best answer every time.
  • Tutoring will instill you with a proper approach to questions and fine-tune the USMLE exams studying technique. It’s essential to understand what examiners want from each question, which starts with how you read it. If you know what each item requires, you can better give an adequate answer. USMLE tutoring is about more than going through the medical material that you already have.  It is not enough to simply know the particulars of a subject like pharmacology, what you really need to understand is how to pass the test. There are rules, tricks, and strategies for every type of exam, especially for the USMLE Step 1 exam. Your tutor will explain the best methods on how to properly use your medical knowledge to get to the correct answer. Furthermore, a tutor will keep you up to date with all the updates of required clinical knowledge. USMLE exams test your analytical skills and ability to apply your knowledge, not your ability to memorize facts.

a female sitting at a table with an open laptop studying

  • A tutor will help you pinpoint your weaknesses. Having the right tutor will force you to realize what areas you lack in. With a tutor, you will have live, one-on-one interaction so that he/she can review your coursework history. This way they can identify your strengths and weaknesses, as well as prepare you adequately for the USMLE exam. The individualized approach is necessary for assessing the areas in which you need improvement. For example, you might need help with specific subjects or with specific types of questions. Once you are aware of the holes in your knowledge, you can work together to fill them.
  • Some tutors will make you go through the USMLE exam simulation sessions. The tutor will help you take a practice test and even practice the rules with you, like taking breaks when indicated, timing, scoring, and giving feedback to you. With the help of your tutor, you can enter the exam room on the testing day prepared. You will know how to approach the test, how to manage the time for the various test blocks and above all, be confident in yourself.
  • Your tutor will know of various study methods that will help him/her identify the one that works best for you. Some of the techniques are; studying with flashcards, practice tests, reading through notes and previous coursework. The tutor may even decide to give you sample questions for different topics to help you in retaining and integrating medical knowledge without cramming. This combination of diverse study methods or using the one that particularly favors you makes memorizing concepts much easier.

a girl sitting at a table stressed out from studying and biting a pencile

  • Tutoring helps you circumvent grave mistakes in exam preparation. Due to lack of training, many USMLE students have been known to fall into traps of lousy planning, sleep deprivation, lack of practice, stamina, and basic medical vocabulary. These mistakes will more often than not, lead to you failing the exam. Improper planning and sleep deprivation may cause you to lose focus and not finish all the questions on time. Without knowledge of fundamental medical vocabulary, the examiners might not understand your answers.
  • A tutor will make sure you are following the latest USMLE exam guidelines. They show where to access certain information regarding study materials and how to interpret the data. Some tutors are practicing Clinicians or Educators who may have belonged, or belong to USMLE exam committees and are well acquainted with the dynamics of the exams.
  • Finally, tutors are of great importance when it comes to the application process for the USMLE exams. This is because you have to apply through the appropriate registration entity. It depends on your medical program accreditation, the location of the medical university you attended and which step of the USMLE exam you are currently taking. The registration entity may be NBME, ECFMG or FSMB depending on each student’s case.


A tutor can change your life

The right tutor can be the difference between getting the residency of your dreams and getting stuck in the process for years. USMLE exams are a massive undertaking. Make sure to use all the experience and knowledge of someone who has already gone through the process. Besides that, preparing for the exams can be quite lonely. This way you have someone who understands what you’re going through and who you can talk to about it.