Αξιον Ωφελειν τους Αλγουντας.” --Be Worthy to Serve the Suffering.

Member Profile

Neil Patel (2013)
Member Type: Student, Junior Member Campus: Rockford
Specialty: Otolaryngology Program: Mayo Clinic (MN)
Advice
Resources other than First Aid:
- Goljan Rapid Review Pathology: read in entirety at least once throughout M2 and then review sections as needed as you get closer to taking Step 1
- Kaplan Pharmacology videos and text
- Kaplan Biochemistry videos and text
- USMLE World
- Kaplan Qbank

Synopsis:
I think it is important to front-load Step 1 studying and finish most of the reading / review before the 4-6 week period in May and early June even begins. Since we are required to take the NBME subject exams for pathology, pharmacology, and microbiology here in Rockford, I used those opportunities to quickly review everything for those subjects prior to the shelf exams. It was arguably more intense than any studying I did in May. I used BRS pathology, Kaplan pharm, and First Aid micro sections for those shelf exams. This put me in a great position to do a lot of practice questions in May, which is probably the most important thing you can do for the test. I finished USMLE World with about 3 weeks to go and started the Kaplan Qbank, of which I did about 12-14 blocks of questions. Including all the other random sources (PreTest, Robbins, etc.), I probably did close to 4,000 questions before taking the exam. This sounds like a lot but it is doable, and I consider it vitally important to getting a top score.

I am not one to read and re-read things like First Aid. I think there is a finite amount of information in that book and it is definitely sufficient to get an above-average score. Unlocking the 250+ range is only possible by doing a lot of practice questions and building up speed.

Speaking of speed... My strategy in every standardized test is to triage questions. After doing 4,000 practice questions, I was able to answer all the questions in a block on Step 1 with at least 15 minutes to spare. However, I marked about 10-15 in each block and would go back and spend more time on the harder questions or ones with long question stems. I believe that the initial nervousness and cortisol rush that occurs during the first-pass through a question set paralyzed me. But after I answered all the questions (with a reasonable effort) I was able to go back, relax, and really comprehend the question.

Things that I would avoid doing:
Don't spend a tremendous amount of time on anatomy or pharmacology. I found that the pharm we learned as M2s plus the Kaplan videos I reviewed before the shelf were more than enough. In my opinion, no one gets the really challenging anatomy and pharmacology questions right, and studying the minutia for 10 questions on the test is silly.