A Good Approach to Reviewing
1. Take a comprehensive test to measure
where your recall is right now.
If you have access, use the PANCE/PANRE Qbank to do this. Take the test under timed mode so it will provide a more reliable estimate of your current readiness and knowledge level across all subjects.
2. Once you know your current recall (%
correct) for each subject, use this data to decide how much time
to invest in each area.
For example, if Physiology is 20% lower than Microbiology, you should spend at least 20% more time reviewing Physiology than you put into reviewing Microbiology.
3. Stay focused on what is most
important for you to know.
Use the PANCE Notes to do this more efficiently, rather than going back to course notes or text books.
4. After you review a section of
material, do some practice questions (at least 25 items) covering
what you just reviewed.
This will help you locate gaps where you still need to clarify your understanding and give you practice in applying your knowledge to questions.
5. If you have access, use the PANCE/PANRE Qbank to create and take a 90-item test
containing items from all of the subjects that you have
reviewed up to that point as you complete each new
For example, if you have finished Anatomy and Physiology, take a timed test assessing those 2 subjects.
6. At the beginning of the final week,
take at least three 90-item tests covering all
The hours spent self-testing will increase your mental stamina and help you feel comfortable with the pacing needed on test day. Keep track of your percent correct as you take practice tests so that you can see your progress.
7. Plan time during the final week to
do nothing but review your own summaries and do practice tests
with 5-10 minute breaks in between.
This is the final "get it all fresh in mind and intensive test-taking" phase. Performance of 70% or better is a good level to aim for.
8. As you review, try to analyze what
kinds of errors you are making on practice
Look not just at topics that might be weak, but look at other aspects of questions that give you trouble, such as items that present symptoms and ask for a diagnosis, items that ask which lab test confirms a diagnosis or what physical defects would give a certain pattern of findings, items that ask how common or rare a problem is, etc. Spotting patterns among the errors you make usually gives you a pretty good idea of what to fix in either your review or test-taking approaches.
9. Be realistic about the number of
hours per day you plan to study.
Efficient study for 6-7 hours will probably accomplish far more than forcing yourself to study for many more hours per day. Think of this final study phase as an opportunity to understand and integrate what you know so you will have a foundation to think with when you look at the PANCE questions.
10. Mix up what you are doing during
each study day to break the monotony.
For example, you might want to review your notes for 2 hours, and then spend an hour doing practice questions. Take a lunch break, and then spend some time reading questions explanations and searching for patterns in your errors or working with flash cards or using a cover up card to practice recalling from charts or tables. Locate and clarify problematic topics you discovered in practice testing to wind up the study day.
11. Most students review better if they
begin with more conceptual material (Physiology and Pathology
while looking at relevant Anatomy as it pertains to each organ
Next, move on to the more rote memory-oriented aspects of Microbiology, Pharmacology, and Biochemistry. This keeps forgetting time on these to a minimum. Behavioral Science materials can be used as a sort of "mental break" from the other subjects because it is so different and usually doesn't require as much time to work through.
12. Consider finding another student
who is willing meet you to do questions aloud.
Alternate roles so that one person talks through the item while the other gives feedback. Both benefit and you may notice some habits that are costing you points and pick up new strategies from each other.