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

Member Profile

Jennifer MacDonald (2015)
Member Type: Student, Junior Member Campus: Chicago
Specialty: Family Medicine Program: Oregon Health and Science University
Advice
1) Nothing can replace the first 2 years of medical school. Focusing on classes comes first - even if you don't like the lecturer, don't punish yourself by skipping that material. Yes, you can try to memorize a bunch of details, but without the concepts lodged in your brain they are not going to stick. And sometimes strength in concepts will get you through a question that at first glance seems totally unfamiliar.
2) QBanks. I used UWorld and Kaplan QBanks and was very happy with how they kept me on track and engaged. I did a few UWorld questions during winter break and 2nd semester of M2, maybe 10% of the bank, but did the vast majority during the 4 weeks I studied for Step 1. I would do at least 3 full length (44 question) blocks per day on timed tutor mode. When I ran out of Uworld questions I bought the Kaplan QBank. If there was ever a moment I didn't know what to do, I did a block of questions. I am a very impatient student and only skimmed the explanations except when I thought I would really learn something new. And I only did the questions once. This is just my style, I don't like to dwell on an issue or get bogged down in memorizing or overdoing things, rather get the gist of it and move on to the next thing. Usually you get the chance to be exposed to the same concept/chart/table etc multiple times. I did 2 complete full length practice tests as well to get an understanding of the endurance component.
3) First Aid. Unlike many other people, I never got around to reading First Aid until the very end, but when I did get there it took me very little time or energy to read it as I had already covered the material in M1, M2, and Qbanks. I read 2-3 chapters per day in the last 1.5 wks before and left the blood chapter until the end because I wanted all of those crazy lymphomas and leukemias in my short term memory.
4) Microcards and pharmcards. Beginning 3 weeks before step 1, I reviewed one section from each of micro and pharmcards per day. Microcards is a good amount of detail, but pharmcards could go into excessive detail so I kept that in mind, read them, and didn't expect to memorize everything.
5) I reserved extra space at the very end to review things that were especially challenging for me or needed to be in short term memory. For me this mainly included some biochem stuff, inborn errors of metabolism/lysosomal storage disease, leukemias/lymphomas, strandedness of viruses, and the major equations (eg stats for EBM, and for pharm). Your list may differ, but I would recommend knowing those basic equations cold so those questions are freebies rather than disturbing reminders of what you don't know when you take Step 1.
6) Dr Najeeb - hmmmm, I watched all of the Dr Najeeb free videos before I got into gear and figured out my plan. Not high yield per se but I did watch them and I enjoyed them simply because I really like it when people don't use power point. And I though he was weirdly entertaining. I'm not sure if I would recommend it to everyone, but it's what I did and it was free which is a good price.
7) I did not use any comprehensive review course such as Kaplan, DIT, etc. and I am happy I did not as I feel like for me it would have been a waste of time.

When it comes time to devise a study plan, make reasonable goals and study in manageable chunks. I would usually alternate 1 block of Qbank questions with 1 section of microcards or pharmcards or 1 chapter in FA and repeat that cycle 3x per day. Switching up kept me from getting overwhelmed with any one resource. In the last few weeks I plotted everything on a calendar to make sure I would cover everything in my core resources and to prevent me from getting discouraged about the amount of material I had left. As long as I kept to this manageable schedule, I knew it would be OK.

Do you have to kill yourself studying to do well on step 1? No. I fit in time with my family and time for exercise. I have a daughter who was just shy of 2 during Step 1 prep and not always a babysitter or family member to help, so on those days I did what studying she would tolerate and tried to have fun with her the rest of the time - although it was psychologically challenging to feel like "I should be studying". I would (begrudgingly at times) eat dinner with my family every night and stop studying for the day at that point. I went to bed early and slept as much as I wanted.

What you do need is a strong background in M1/M2, limited resources that you know well, awareness of what strategies work well for your studying style, and confidence in your test taking skills.

Good Luck!