How to Enhance Your Brain to Study Faster

As a doctor to be you should know by now that you are what you eat. It’s imperative that you have a proper diet in order for your brain to function. Cookies and milk is not going to do if you want to kick butt in the USMLE exams.

You have the ability to master how much and how fast your brain can absorb information as you study for the USMLE. Now a lot of medical students in the US and in the Caribbean use stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin, illegally or legally.

My advice is do not get them illegally, as a matter of fact if you don’t need them then don’t use them. Adderall and Ritalin has side effects which can deplete your dopamine reserves leading a person to short-term depression and anxiety; also those drugs are very dangerous for people with heart conditions such as arrhythmia.

Some of us can’t get those stimulants and so we need an alternate source. There are so many nootropics I used but I had to prepare myself for it over time; I’ll write a separate post about it. The following are the basics which will enhance your focus and it will do so in a subtle manner.

  • Multivitamins
    If you studied biochemistry well then you should know that multivitamins are very important. As medical students we cannot get all the vitamins and minerals that our body needs to make the proper amount of dopamine and other neurotransmitters.If you look at the catecholamine syntheses of the USMLE First Aid, you will see the cofactors that’s required for the synthesis of dopamine, which is a very important for studying.
  • Fish Oil
    Whether you deny it or not, research shows that the omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, in fish oil benefits the brains. Omega-3 fatty acids increases the myelin sheaths around the axon of the neuron, which allows the individual to think faster and recall things faster.Those East Indians, Chinese, and Japanese consume heavy amounts of fish and you wonder why they get those high scores. Of course you can’t eat fish all the time because of the mercury content, so when I studied I bought isolated and purified fish oil with high amount of omega-3 fatty acids. I take a teaspoon of it every other day.
  • Focus Formula
    This type of supplement helps a lot only if you take it with coffee. Studying for the USMLE is very boring and you need something to keep you going. It’s very easy to lose focus and lose motivation, but Focus Formula has the right combinations of balanced noortropics, in order to enhance your learning.
  • Magnesium (Updated on 1/31/2014)
    Magnesium is one of the most depleted minerals in our body. And with depletion it causes tremendous amount of anxiety and brain fog. I take almost 200 mg to 400 mg every night because it helps me relax and go to sleep easily. Magnesium is also great for the heart.For those with anxiety and stress and loss of focus add Magnesium glycine to your daily diet because other Magnesium has poor absorption, especially the ones you get in the multivitamins.
Please make sure you eat properly and exercise often for these to work. Also, you have to be consistent, you probably won’t notice anything until 2 weeks or more. You have to take them everyday to fully get the benefits.

USMLE Step 1 – How To Study For Biostatistics

Many of you emailed me and asked how to deal with Biostatistics. Now, Biostatistics was one of the most annoying subjects and I hated it with the passion.

But, Step 1 is one exam you don’t want to play with and take the risk. So what do we have to do? We have to master Biostatistics. I mean trust me they don’t leave you alone.

You will get questions on Biostatistics on almost every Step. So you might as well learn it well the first time so that you don’t have to learn so much in the second time right? You will also hear from lots of people that they didn’t get any questions on biostatistics. Some will say they got 1 or 2 easy ones.

Now, I will say they kind of changed the exam format because now you get mixed of everything per block. So who ever said they didn’t get this or that, they probably don’t remember what was on the exam.

Materials For Biostatistics

First Aid 2017 – This book pretty much has everything that you need to know for Biostatistics. And the good news is that it’s only a few pages. So the first thing you want to do is memorize those pages really well so that you can even picture those pages with your eyes closed. Make sure you are using the latest First Aid 2017.

USMLE World QBank – My oh my, UW’s Biostatistics might make some of you so mad that you might think about quitting. But the good news is that in a long run if you go over those biostat questions at least 2 to 3 times you are all set. So have some hope and keep working hard.

Now for some of you just First Aid & UW might be enough when it comes to biostat. However, for many, it is still difficult. If you still find it difficult and want to master Biostat I highly recommend USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes 2017: Behavioral Science and Social Sciences. If you read and understand everything from the Kaplan’s biostat section and do UW after that you will be all set!

That’s all you need for biostatistics. I mean you might forget as you continue with other subjects but it’s normal. Remember, what I said? Steps are all about repetition.

There is no way you are going to remember everything. So the more you repeat the material the stronger you get at it. If you need help with Step 1 preparation or need my advice on study schedule, feel free to check out my consulting service.

Resources I used for my Step 1 Biostatistics preparation to get 266:

Good Luck Everyone!

USMLE Step 1 – How To Study For Pharmacology

Pharmacology is one of the easiest subjects for the Step 1. I mean its easy to get the questions right, they usually make them straightforward.

Now, you have to study the right material and memorize the drugs to get almost all of the pharmacology questions right on the exam. You are going to get 3 to 4 questions per block on pharmacology.

Trust me they don’t ask anything crazy. Everything they ask on Pharmacology is in First Aid. To get the maximum point on pharmacology you need 3 sources Kaplan, First Aid and USMLE World.

Here is how you should prepare for pharmacology:

Kaplan – Watch the Kaplan videos on Pharmacodynamics, Pharmacokinetics and Autonomic Drugs. Also read the same sections on the Lecture Notes. If you don’t have the lecture notes, download the pdf version of it. These are the only three sections you need to know from the Kaplan Lecture notes.

First Aid & USMLE World – Once you are done with the above three chapters in Kaplan, come back to First Aid and go over them on First Aid. And from this point on you need to go over one system at a time and memorize the drugs from First Aid.

So, for example if you memorize all the Cardiology drugs, then you should go through the Cardiology Pharmacology section on the USMLE World. Do this for all the systems. If you need to take down any notes take it on First Aid.

Lippincott Pharmacology – Unless you want to quit medical field and go into Pharmacy don’t bother with this book. I mean its a great book for pharmacology but too much for Step 1.

Here is how you should solidify the pharmacology section:

I know some people like to use Flashcards. I mean if that works for you go ahead. It is better, if you make one of your friend or a family member quiz you on the drugs that you memorized.

Trust me it will help you a lot! I personally sat down with a friend of mine at a Starbucks and we used to quiz each other on different drugs and not only that we would quiz each other on the notes that we took from USMLE World’s Pharmacology sections.

That’s pretty much it for pharmacology. I mean once you go over USMLE World’s pharmacology section twice you pretty much know it all.

Few Must Know Sections:

  • Autonomics
  • Toxicities & Side Effects (Specific Antidotes)
  • Drug Reactions
  • P450
  • Baclofen (Know everything about this drug)
  • Anti-Psychotics
  • Anti-Seizure Drugs