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

Member Profile

Matthew Stier (2013)
Member Type: Student, Senior Member Campus: Chicago
Specialty: Internal Medicine Program: The University of Chicago Hospitals
Advice
The first step is selecting a date for the exam. I personally wanted time off before starting rotations to travel and hang out with friends, so I made sure to have 10 days off between my step I and M3 year. I think the overall attitude of our class was to have around a week off, with a few outliers on either side of that coin. I very much enjoyed the time I saved to relax, and by the time test day rolled around I was ready to be done studying and get it over with anyway. Sign up for a date early so you have options, if possible.

I predominantly used First Aid for USMLE Step 1, Goljan Rapid Review Pathology, and USMLE World Qbank. Virtually all students I spoke with used the First Aid book as a base study guide, and had some form of question bank whether it was Kaplan or USMLE. I went with USMLE for a variety of reasons: The software interface parallels the actual test day software, we got a discount, and I heard it contained slightly more complex questions than what was actually seen on step I. Pathology is probably the most tested topic on the exam so I wanted to make sure to have a good handle on that material, and Goljan seemed to be the most widely accepted resource from my discussions with previous test takers. I also supplemented areas I felt weakest, including a short BRS Physiology review book, Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple, and Rapid Review Biochemistry. I purchased these based on Qbank struggles and feelings of insufficient information in First Aid. I did not study anatomy, histology, neurology, etc in any additional detail that what was already in my review books and question banks. The Goljan pathology lecture series are fun to listen to but probably a little dated in testable information.

I started studying in February, around the same time I stopped going to most lectures. I read the notes for all of the lectures I missed each week, using the recordings to clarify anything I didn't understand. I further supplemented the lecture notes with the corresponding organ system content in BRS physio, Goljan Path, and First Aid. For questions, I took the total number of items in the Qbank and did enough each day to ensure that I got through them all before my test date. I reviewed all questions, right or wrong, to understand the content. I budgeted in an additional 2-4 weeks to account for days I would not get to do questions, and time to review my problem areas/missed questions/etc in the week or two leading up to the test.

In the final week I got back to basics, reviewing the main ideas in First Aid and taking a lot of Qbank tests to be totally comfortable with the format. During the months of studying I still went out with my friends, saw my girlfriend, had a (very) part time job, went to family events, ballgames, the beach, etc because that stuff is important to me. I probably averaged 8-10 hours a day studying, 5+ days a week however, so obviously I couldn't do everything I wanted. Find a rhythm that works for you and make sure you take care of yourself with lots of sleep and exercise. You will do fine if you work hard to achieve your goals. Hope this helps!