Sunday, January 4, 2015

Preparing for the USMLE Step 1 exam

"How do I prepare for the USMLE Step 1 exam?" -The most requested post ever!

The essentials - Kaplan videos & notes (for basics) + Goljan book & audio + uWorld + First Aid is the general way to go for most IMG students.

Kaplan videos and notes: They are a good start. If you are time restricted, you may want to skip stuff, fast forward through it.


Pathology: Do Goljan and Pathoma. Know them cold. I had studied Goljan really well. I wish I had the time to complete Pathoma as well. The videos and concepts are awesome.

uWorld: Do it really well the first time. You are gonna get bored doing it the second time so get the concepts in the first go. Take your time if you have to.

While doing it the first time, the 2 blocks per day and 20 days scheme didn’t work for me. I got frustrated with the time constraints I had put on myself. The best I could do was 1 block per day. So give yourself 45 days, just in case you are slow with uWorld like me.

I did it in random just because I assumed studying subject-wise would get too monotonous. Subject-wise goes faster. I did it timed. You may do it untimed, tutorial, subject-wise. It doesn’t matter. Do what you are comfortable with.

First Aid: It's your quick review book. Write uWorld notes all over it. Make it messy, draw diagrams on it. It's the only book that's gonna stick with you till the end of time. 

NBMEs: Give as many as you can. But do them only for feedback, not for learning.

Other stuff you can do -

BRS behavioural science: I highly recommend it. You can easily do important chapters like stuff on defense mechanisms even 20 days before the exam. There are good quality, minimal in number, doable questions at the end of every chapter.

Be flexible: If you find yourself weak in any random subject, quickly Google for good sources and review the doable ones. People advice not to look into new resources a few days prior to the exam but that’s bull. Your old sources are obviously did not help you and that’s the reason you are weak in the subject… Look for new ones! I did BRS behavioural science 20 days before my step and it is one of the best decisions that I made. I tried ANKI flashcards for brain stem sections a week before. As long as you keep a balance, new resources won’t hurt you.

Flashcards: Download or make your own flashcards. It helps you revise frequently.

Other Qbanks: Yes, I had done bits of Kaplan Qbank and USMLE Rx. I had time when I started them, they helped me get what the questions are like and I did make a few notes. They did freak me out (since I got most of the questions wrong) and hence, helped me study more early in my preps. But they are not essential if you are out of time.

Doctors In Training: It’s very boring. But the worksheets do help you memorize and revise. I don’t recommend it, but I did review some of it once upon a time.

Random advice -

Be attentive during rounds: Because the USMLE will have questions on clinical stuff. If you have done your core rotations, it’s not an issue. But if you are in your basic sciences years, the only way you can get these right is by being attentive in rounds. There are very simple common clinical questions like urge incontinence on Step 1 which are not covered in First Aid. You can easily get them right. Read x-rays, especially the fracture ones.

Don't forget to revise Kaplan and Goljan: Read a little bit of Kaplan and lots of Goljan even in your busy 2 block per day + First Aid schedule. The bain of knowledge is to forget.

Revise as much as you can before the exam: I remember antidepressants and antipsychotics being a bit foggy in my head during the step. I should have revised properly and in a more organized way before the exam.

Solving questions: The questions are scary. I made a lot of silly mistakes during the preps. I agree that the margin for error is small. You miss one word and the question goes wrong. The exam seems hard before you take it and easy after you’re done with it. Keep going. All you can do is give your best :)

Don’t delay dates too much: I delayed my exam for a month. I gave an NBME on the previous exam date. The NBME score and the test score came out to be the same. Life! xD

Social isolation: It's normal. Friends will demand to see you, even after you’ve explained how important and hard this exam is. You will feel bad for not meeting them and have mood swings, it is okay. Don’t let it consume you. Focus. You may completely ignore the existence of any other species on the planet, it’s allowed. The good ones will stick with you anyway.

That's all! 
Feel free to ask any questions.

47 comments:

  1. So right girlie..practice is a MUST before exams....n yea about life of a medico,we really gotta make sacrifices...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, girl! Practice makes perfect :*

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    2. Hey girlie...what do you aspire to be..?? i mean which medical speciality???

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    3. Medicine or paediatrics. Not decided. What about you girl?

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    4. Paediatrics..i just love the subject <3

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    5. Hey girlie..need help..!!
      Can u plz post treatment of malaria with some aweaome mnemonics of yours...pleeaaseeee.....
      I have my theory exams comin next week n im all confused wid all final year subjects..esp surgery...O God plzz helpp me..im so scared girlie...just wanna clear my final.part 2 wid awesome score...Your blog helped me in many ways...thanks again girlie <3

      Delete
    6. Heyy girlie..i just saw your video on malaria chemoprophylaxis..its great...thankss
      Btw good english accent u got....n girlie u kept repeating "pneumonia" instead of malaria :)
      But was awesome again..thanks a ton girlie..godbless tc :-*

      Delete
    7. Haha I know :(

      I make unscripted spontaneous videos and go umm umm throughout. Can't have time for planned well executed videos xD

      Delete
    8. Oh yes, I had to study for final year in a short period of time as well. I know how it feels.
      You'll manage well. Don't worry!

      Delete
  2. Na baba na...INDIA hi best hai..pata nahi log apna desh chodhkar kyu doosre countries ko jaana chahte hai..really sad..yaha par bhi to practice kar sakte na..aur karna bhi chahiye..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Umm because post graduate seats are limited and the number of under grads are increasing day by day. People need multiple attempts at PG CET and they still don't get the field they want. That is sad.

      I think it's fair to allow people to pursue the field they desire. Lines drawn on a map should not restrict anyone from chasing their dream.

      Delete
  3. are kalpan videos available online? And also I will give my 1st MBBS exam this june.. when is the ideal time to prepare for usmle step 1?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Start as soon as you're done with first year! Second year is gold.

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  4. Have you cleared USMLE Step 1, 2CK and Step 2CS?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just step 1. Planning on giving step 2 CK this year.

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  5. does clearing the same permit you to pursue Masters?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You mean post graduation, right? You need your step scores, electives and research varying from college to college.

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  6. Are you practicing Medicine?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No. Just a med student.

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    2. Lemme guess..ur doing ur internship right now..??
      If so..please.give some tips on that ..thnk you

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    3. I will start internship in March. What kind of tips do you need btw?

      Delete
  7. Why do you fake an ascent Miss? :/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because I can and it's fun! :D

      Planning to learn an Italian accent next.

      Delete
    2. Well said girlie :-D

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    3. Don't let the haters stop you from doing your thang :P

      Delete
  8. Aqua Moula Bless You!

    ReplyDelete
  9. HI..I am in First year MBBS.. Please let me know if there is anyway to start preparing for USMLE step 1 from now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can start preparing for Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology! Start now!

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    2. How to prepare? What should I read? Any book I have? Or there are any specific books or materials?

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    3. You may start with the Kaplan videos and notes.

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    4. Where will I get Kaplan Videos and Notes?

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    5. Sweet heart, can you Email / Facebook / tumblr message me?

      Delete
  10. How to prepare? What should I read? Any book I have? Or there are any specific books or materials?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are other books as well - Road map to gross anatomy, BRS physiology that you can do.

      Delete
  11. Do you have any suggestions on which subjects to start first for preparing for step1? thanksx

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    Replies
    1. Do pathology first. Do biochemistry last.

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  12. Hi ma'am,
    I start my first year of MBBS this September. Im really intent on doing well in all steps of the USMLE and would like to prepare as much as I can from the first year. What do you suggest is the best time to start, and what material should I use for USMLE Step 1 Anatomy, Biochem and Physiology in the first year?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you start early, you'll have an upper hand which is great.

      Here's what I suggest - Buy clinically oriented books and read them parallel to your college syllabus.

      Start with Kaplan videos and notes for Biochemistry, Anatomy and Physiology because they'll cover your basics.

      Additional books would be:
      Road map to gross anatomy
      Clinical anatomy by Richard Snell

      BRS Physiology
      Physiology - Linda Costanzo

      Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews: Biochemistry

      Usually, Kaplan suffices but since you have time, do these as well.
      Also, read a lot of x-rays from anatomy!
      And do brain stem sections from neuroanatomy.
      Google histology slides and know them thoroughly.

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  13. Hey..what sources would u suggest for step 1 when there are 5 months and some weeks to prepare??? i'm an intern and unfortunately can't focus all my energies on prep :/ I'm seriously worried/intimidated/panicking slightly and would love some feedback!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Giving step 1 in internship is really tough! It's okay to freak out.

      I'd recommend you start uWorld + First Aid + Goljan. Because you will require more time for uWorld than the usual 2 months because of the workload.

      Listen to Goljan, heart sounds while you are traveling. Put ebooks and Qbanks on your phone and solve them the minute you get free time. Work super hard. You can do this!

      Delete
    2. Hey,where do we get all the above mentioned books, first aid, goljan etc ?

      Delete
  14. I'm planning to give the exam in june of 2017. Which is my final year and I've started studying in november of third year (2016). This is just so terrifying. I'm worried about the time management with final year clinics and studies etc. How exactly did you get through it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is very terrifying, but you can handle it.
      Take life one day at a time :)

      Delete

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