Medical schools around the country are redesigning their curriculum, with a general trend of exposing students to clinical experiences earlier in their training. For example, several schools now offer earlier core clerkship years and as a result students may be taking shelf exams prior to having done Step 1 (which traditionally was written by students prior to entering clinical wards). Some post-clerkship year students are also experimenting with taking Step 2 before Step 1 or other combinations. When is the best time to take Step 1, Step 2, or other standardized tests? Does taking shelf exams prior to the step exams help or harm student performance? What are the possible plusses and downsides of these changes in timing and what advice do panelists have about scheduling exams?
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