USMLE Step 1 Advice 2010KATIE CARETTIBooks I usedFirst AidStep up to USMLE Step IBoard Review Series (BRS) PhysiologyBRS Cell biology and HistologyBRS Behavioral SciencesMedical Microbiology & ImmunologyMedical Microbiology Made Ridiculously SimpleRapid Review Pathology By GoljanPharmcards: Review for medical students By JohannsenLippencott PharmacologyLippencott BiochemistryHY BiochemistryHigh Yield (HY) NeuroanatomyHY AnatomyHY EmbryologyTo review images I used Webpath: http://library.med.utah.edu/WebPath/webpath.htmlQuestion BankI only bought 1 question bank which was USMLE world. Some people bought subscriptions to twoquestion banks, which I do not think is necessary unless you have time in your schedule to do that manyextra questions. When you purchase USMLE world you have the option of purchasing two practice testswhich I did as well. I really liked USMLE world because the format is exactly that used on the actualSTEP I exam.Practice TestIn addition to the practice tests I purchased along with my subscription to USMLE world, I alsoscheduled a practice test at the same Prometric testing site that I would be taking my STEP I exam. I
would recommend doing this because not only do you get another practice test out of it, but you can alsobecome familiar with the testing area so that you will be more comfortable come test day.Other Advice:I have attached my STEP I schedule. It is important to allow plenty of flexibility in your schedule becausedays will not always go exactly according to plan. I would wake up each day around 7:30 or 8 am. Onsome days I would start the day off with a workout, on other days I would just get started studying andsave my workout for later to help break up the day. It is definitely important to try to incorporate somebreak time throughout your day and do something you enjoy so you don’t burn out too early. I enjoyedworking out, playing tennis, going swimming just to get outside and be able to enjoy the day a littlebefore returning to study. I preferred to do practice questions at the end of the day after I had alreadystudied the material for the day. I tried to allow at least 2 days in my schedule to study each of the majortopics covered on Step I. So the first day I would read from one of the listed books on whatever topic Iwas covering and annotate my First Aid with supplemental information. This way, on the second day ofcovering the topic I could mostly study 1 source, First Aid, which I had already annotated with additionalinformation from the other texts. First Aid is a really great book which covers the majority of materialfound on STEP I. It is not all inclusive, however, and needs to be annotated with additional informationfrom more comprehensive texts. So here is an example of how I would cover a topic, such as the Renalunit:Day 18 am: Wake up8 am – 9 am: Workout9 am- 11 am : Study Renal Physiology with BRS Physiology annotating First Aid along the way.11 am – 12: 30 pm: Study Renal Pharmacology with Lippencott and First Aid12:30 – 2pm: Lunch break2 pm – 6pm: Study Renal pathology using Goljan and Step Up/annotating First Aid6pm – 8pm: Dinner break8 pm – 10 pm: USMLE world questionsDay 28 am: Wake up8 am – 9 am: Workout
9 am – 11 am: Finish reading anything I didn’t get to the day before/ Start reviewing First Aid with thenotes I added from the day before11 am – 12:30 pm: Review the Renal section of First Aid12:30 – 2pm: Lunch break2 pm – 5pm: Finish Reviewing Renal section of First Aid5 pm – 7 pm: Dinner Break7 pm – 9 pm: USMLE world questionsSo this was the basic format of my schedule. If anyone has any questions regarding STEP I preparation,feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.Good Luck!!
ERICA CHIMIENTII have written tons for you. But my most important advice is to do whatever works for you. Do notcompare how you are studying with others because it can just stress you out. Also keep some things inyour life constant, if you like working out or cooking make time for that.Studying prior to school’s endI was not great about this. I did about 20 questions throughout the year. I did try to read micro maderidiculously simple the last week and that was a good idea because micro was a loooong time ago and Ilove this book. Some people did questions which can be a good practice because they are very differentin style compared to wayne questions. If I could go back I would try to review micro or biochem prior tostudying because they are very big topics in FA and have lots of details to memorize. Do not stress if youhave done nothing specific to prepare for boards yet. I honestly started the week before school was out.Some people used FA throughout the year and I wish I had done this because it could have saved timelooking topics up. I’m just not the kind of person that would ever keep up with this though.ScheduleIf you look at my schedule you will see what my plan was for each day. I tried really hard to stick to theassigned topics each day and complete them because there was not enough time to make-up topics that Ididn’t cover. The actual schedule of how I studied each day did not happen though. I had planned to readrapid review path for my daily topic in the morning then do first aid (FA) in the afternoon and I didn’thave nearly enough time for this. I ended up just concentrating on FA and looking up the topics I didn’tknow or needed more information on. I scheduled my micro days later than most people and I was happyI did this. It was nice to have a break from pathophys. My last week was review and I loved this!!Some people left only 3 days but I am a last minute crammer so a week was necessary. The last week Ijust did a quick flip through FA but I didn’t spend lots of time on any subject, it was mainly to refresh mymemory. Leave plenty of days at the end in case you need to make up for things you didn’t cover orwant to review. Catch-up days were very important for little things I needed to review and to doquestions. Some days I didn’t make it to questions. I also never took 2 hours for dinner. I would takewalks or work out listening to Goljan. Goljan is the author of rapid review pathophys and he is amazing.It was one of the best things I did to prepare. Lots of students have bootleg copies of his lectures. Thereis no video for them but they were one of the best study tools. Try to find someone who has these and geta copy. If I could go back I would do Goljan everyday along with the topic for that day in FA.
QuestionsI would definitely recommend doing questions everyday because it is a great way to review topics youhave already covered. I only used USMLE world so I don’t know how Kaplan works. I loved world.One huge piece of advice I got was to take question sets that had all the material combined on them. Youcan make practice tests on world and suspend them so that you can go back and take them whenever youwant. Before I did any questions I made at least 15 of these random tests. This was great because eachday I did my questions I had all the material on it. I did not get great scores on these but it helped me toreview old topics everyday so that I didn’t forget them. I knew people that only did questions everydayon the topics they studied that day and then at the end they didn’t have any new questions to quizthemselves with. It may be a good idea to do some focus questions on that days material and some thatcover all the material each day. I also liked having the full mix of topics because that is how the realexam is and it is better preparation. For example, if you only did cardio questions one day then you knowthe chest pain someone has is cardiac in origin, if you did a mix you would have to determine if it wascardio, gi or musculoskeletal in origin. I can’t stress enough how happy I was to do my questions thisway, but I had to remind myself that I was doing topics that I hadn’t studied so questions were a learningtool. My scores on world ranged from 50’s-70’s. Mainly around upper 60’s – low 70’s near the end onfull tests. The drugs questions are very specific and much harder than on the actual test. I did about 50questions a day which took about 3 hours. This is because I took notes on the questions and tried to learnthe concepts. I wrote the notes in my FA. So the last week when I looked over my first aid I couldglance at these as well.Study BooksTry not to load yourself down with too many sources. I did this at first and was very overwhelmedbecause I wasn’t making it through my FA for the day. I ended up cutting back and just used FA. Like Isaid before if I didn’t know a concept or needed a better explanation I would use one of my other sources.First Aid-make sure to check online for corrections to the edition you have!! I checked for each section Idid that day and it was a good idea because otherwise I spent awhile trying to figure out a concept thatwas incorrect!Rapid Review Pathophys- this is an ok reference book but I didn’t love it as much as other people. I justdidn’t have enough time for it.Step-Up to Step 1- This is a review book that uses lots of tables and charts. If you learn from charts thenthis may be great for you. It was not as detailed as FA at all but I liked it to give another explanation oftopics. Just remember this is not a thorough book it is just a brief review on topics.
BRS physiology- This was great to have around to review topics I had forgottenBRS neuroanatomy- I didn’t use this very much. The neuro I learned was not as detailed as it is in BRSor in the neuroanatomy course in school.BRS embryology- I liked another source for embryo and this was goodHigh yield neuroanatomy- I accidentally bought this without realized I had BRS, I liked BRS betterbecause it is more detailed and if I was looking something up it was because I needed a better explanationon it not because I needed a quick overview of it.High yield embryology- same as the other high yieldMicrobiology made ridiculously simple- This is the best for micro. I tried to read it during our last weekof school/that pharm they forced on us. I would recommend this book. I didn’t use it during the year butit was amazing for boards.Step 1 Recall- This is a review book that just has high yield facts. It was a nice quick review. If I reallydidn’t feel like studying or had to sit in a car for something it was great to flip through. I just readrandom topics so that it would act as a review of things I had already learned.Wikipedia- Lets face it, this is one of the easiest resources and I used it all day long to look up thingsfrom FA.Road Map to Anatomy- I didn’t use this but I know people that really liked it so it may be worth lookingat.Test DayThis exam is not like the ones at Wayne. It is meant to be challenging to even the smartest people. Ithought it was harder than USMLE world and I wasn’t doing great on world. I am not saying that to scareyou but just to remind you that when you take it you will be guessing on questions and using your bestjudgment. Trust that you have studied enough to do well. All of my friends thought it was very hard andthey all did well on it. If you have a bad section just keep going and forget that it was that hard. Also, Idid the practice test at the site which was good. I liked knowing what the room was like before. But, theNBME exams are not as hard as world or as the real exam so keep that in mind. You will take one ofthese NBME exams at Wayne this spring and when I took it I thought it was impossible but once you startstudying they aren’t as bad.There is endless amounts of material you need to know so focus on what FA has and you will be fine. FAseems very detailed (at least it did to me) but it is very high yield. I hope this helped some. Please comeon Monday if you have more questions or feel free to e-mail me Echimien@med.wayne.edu. Title the e-mail step 1 advice or something similar so I know to respond.
ED SHIELDSFirst Aid for USMLE step 1- Buy it and memorize it allBRS pathology- I read sections after corresponding year II courses and annotated FA, did not read duringstudy period, I recommend you read itHY biochemistry- spent 2 days during spring break reading and annotated FAHY behavioral sciences- Read through quickly and try to pick out pertinent thingsHY neuroanatomy- Read through quickly and try to pick out pertinent things you don’t already knowBRS Micro/immuno- Use more as a reference, read if you have timeBRS physiology- Pretty good, I read in one day close to examRapid Review Pathophysiology- Very dense, used mostly as a reference, some of the beginning chapterswere ok about basic pathophys, fluids/electrolytes, wound healing, etcHY anatomy- I read this a few days before exam, very dense, not necessary, only if you have time
BEN WORKMANRESOURCESFirst Aid (FA): This is by far the most important book for Step 1. It is incredibly inadequate in itselfthough. It must be annotated…heavily. Some people started annotating theirs at the beginning of firstyear. I did NOT. So if you didn’t either, don’t feel bad. I started annotating mine over spring break of mysecond year. Write down stuff you don’t understand, stuff you got wrong, stuff that isn’t in FA at all, andpictures. Pictures are fun and they make you remember. This was pretty much my only resource the finalweek of studying because it had been annotated with everything important from all the other books.Goljan Rapid Review of Pathology: This is the second most important book in my opinion. The thing thathelped my studying the most was annotating my FA with info from Goljan during the time BEFORE Iactually started devoting all my time to Step 1. Every weekend leading up to the start of my studyschedule, I would go over a single body system in Goljan and supplement FA. By doing this, I hadalready re-familiarized myself with respiratory, heme, renal, cardio, endo, reproductive, GI, connectivetissue/derm, and neuro. I also found it helpful to go over them in the order in which we had the coursesbecause I knew I would be more energized at first, which was needed for the subjects from which Iremembered less. This strategy was probably the number one reason for my success. I didn’t feel at alloverwhelmed when I started studying hardcore in May.Pathophysiology Notes: I used these along with Goljan to supplement FA during weeks leading up to myofficial study time.BRS Series: I used the Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology & Immunology and Behavioral Sciencebooks as my primary resources for those subjects. I also found the Pathology book to be quite helpful. Iused the Histology and Cell Biology book a little bit. Overall I really liked the BRS books. Some peopleclaim that they leave important information out, but I found that they were a very good supplement toFirst Aid and Goljan.High Yield: Used Neuroanatomy, Embryology, Immunology, and Cell & Molecular Biology. The firstthree were very helpful. Cell and Molecular Biology was alright, but I like BRS a little better. These arevery short reads and you can get through them quickly. The Neuroanatomy and Embryology books hadlots of good diagrams.Step Up: I Thought that this book was pretty good for a general overview of all the systems. It has goodphysiology sections, and the pharm is pretty good too. It has lots of images and diagrams, which made itGREAT for neuroanatomy.Lippincott: Used the Biochemistry and Pharmacology books by Lippincott. I found the Biochemistrybook to be extremely helpful. I remembered virtually nothing from Biochem, and this book helped make
sense out of everything again…and lots of things for the first time. The Pharm book was okay. Nothingspecial but it helped some. I used FA mostly for Pharm and made myself flash cards that I studied overand over again. The Lippincott book was good for some of the things I needed further explanation on, butit was by no means necessary.QUESTION BANKI used both Kaplan Q-Bank and USMLE World and like them both. I just bought the one monthsubscription for Kaplan, started with that, and then bought the World subscription like a week later. Thatway I didn’t have to renew either one. I thought they were both very difficult and WAY more detail-oriented than the real exam. But going through the really hard and detailed questions forced you to reviewthe big picture as well, so in the end they both were extremely helpful. It probably isn’t necessary to buyboth, but since I was only paying for a month of each I went ahead and did it. I got through almost all ofboth of them. Overall, I think Kaplan may have been a little more focused on minutia at times, so if youonly get one, I would chose World. It also has the exact same format as the real exam.Overall AdviceSome people say you can’t do well on this exam if you use a whole bunch or resources. This is Obviouslynot true. I find that if use lots of different resources I see the material presented in different ways, andthus understand it better. This is just my own personal preference. Whatever your method is going to bethough, stick to it if at all possible. If you discover early on that it isn’t working, bail on it and findsomething that does…fast.As I stated above, the best thing I did in studying for this test was try to spend one day each weekendbetween spring break and when 2nd year ended going over one of the systems in FA. I would go over itusing Goljan and my pathophyiology notes from the year. This way I had a large portion of my FAannotating done before my month of hardcore studying even started.Try to take at least a few practice exams. The NBME practice exams are quite good. The downside is thatthey cost about $50. Also, try to take a practice exam at the test center at which you will be taking the realexam. This is good because A) practice questions, and B) it gets you familiar with the test site. I wasn’tquite sure where I was going the first time and was very glad I did know on test day. You also get familiarwith the computer system, although the practice exam WAS on the older format. That may be differentthis year.Importantly, do whatever possible to preven losing your mind during this whole deal. I worked out almostevery day and there were about three Thursdays where I drove one and a half hours home to play golf inmy old golf league with my family and friends and have a few beers. It gave me something to look
forward to and kept me motivated. I even went up north for a night over Memorial Day weekend. Somepeople can study non-stop for a month. I’m not one of those people.Finally, studying for this exam is probably the most intense studying you will EVER do in your entirelife. It IS going to suck. You ARE going to get frustrated and want to break something. And it WILLeventually be over. And when that happens, you will look back and think, how in the hell did I ever studylike that. So with that in mind, try to look at this experience as a challenge (one that you are going todominate), and not as the worst month of your life (because in the end it really wasn’t all that bad).