The paradox of high scorers is that they tend to be some of the more relaxed students. Med students typically take weeks to months to prepare for Step 1, but there is a fundamental difference between the way that average scorers used the time compared with their high-scoring counterparts. According to Dean McBride, every year he gives the same advice to study no more than 8-9 hours per day. Most people ignore him and frantically pack in 14-15 hour days, often skipping meals and skimping on sleep for weeks.
Statistics don’t lie, and the evidence shows that intense bursts are much more effective than prolonged marathons of
self-flagellation studying. The difference is in the way studying is approached. Are you tackling the subject at hand with 100% focus, actively integrating new information with you ever-expanding web of knowledge? Or are you letting your attention wander away? I have subjected myself to some long days only to find that I didn’t really learn that much during those hours of “studying.” Looking back, that is because I was really only 50-60% focused. If you study on an iPad or laptop, try disconnecting from the Wifi for your next study session. At the very least, turn off notifications so that every new email or IM doesn’t interupt your flow.
The added benefit of studying in discrete, focused sessions is that you can also train yourself to completely detach from schoolwork when you are not studying. Being 100% not focused on school when you are not actively studying will make you happier all around and better able to tackle your classes in their due time. Multitasking truly is a myth, so decide what few priorities you want to focus on, ditch the rest, and be 100% present in whatever you are doing.