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

Member Profile

Abraham Rodriguez (2013)
Member Type: Student, Senior Member Campus: Peoria
Specialty: Neurosurgery Program: University of Missouri
Advice
Dear M2 Students,

My name is Abe and I did well on Step 1 which is why I would like to share a few important tips with you. My study routine was straight forward so my tips are brief, but if any of you have any more detailed questions that you would like me to answer, please email (arodri77@uic.edu) or call (651-497-5885) me anytime. I am not going to publically share my score but I will say that these tips allowed me to do well enough to pursue my dream of neurosurgery in case any of you are wondering how well these tips actually worked for me. I took the test around June 20th I believe. Here are my high-yield tips:

1. First Aid & USMLE World. These two sources have ALL the info you need to do well. There is no need to waste time focusing on Biochem books or anatomy books, etc., because the primarily tested topics in these detailed areas are covered adequately in both First Aid and in USMLE World. The only two sources I used for studying was First Aid and USMLE World and if I had to do it again I would only use those two sources, just like last time. I got a bit freaked out because a few of the top-performing students at the Step 1 meeting I attended told us how they used like 20 books so it made me feel like I should try to do that, but I never got around to it because First Aid and UWorld had more than i could get through already, and it ended up working out great. In the end, I only ended up making one detailed pass through both First Aid and UWorld, and like I said, I didn’t even finish UWorld (had like 130 questions left). If I had more time I would have liked to get through both sources twice but I am a slow studier. If you need to brush up on a First Aid topic in more detail or in paragraph form, perhaps then reach for another book just to satisfy your understanding on that one topic, then get back on track with First Aid and UWorld as soon as possible to make sure you can at least make 1 solid pass through each of those, and if you can make a second pass through them, do it (if you only have time for a second pass through one of them, choose UWorld, it is higher-yield than First Aid). Between those two sources it is all in there. There’s no need to make this complicated for yourself, First Aid and UWorld have all you need and plenty of stuff that you won’t even get tested on.

2. Don’t save USMLE World questions for the last week or two. These questions are not only educational, but getting used to reading the clinical vignettes quickly and efficiently will benefit you. That is why USMLE World is so important, because it will not only get you in test-taking mode, but it does a great job teaching you the small but important differences between similar topics, such as galactosemia vs fructosemia, etc. I started my UWorld question with 3-4 weeks to go and I did not get through all the questions. If I could change only one thing about my studying, I would have purposely rushed through First Aid more rather than trying to memorize the whole book, so that I could get to the UWorld questions quicker and have a good 4-5+ weeks to just do questions leading up to the exam.

3. Have a plan and routine, and include a few hours to enjoy yourself at the end of each day before bed. I found time to watch 1-2 hours of movies or internet videos at the end of each night. I would typically study from 10 or 11am until about 10 or 11pm, and then do something fun for 1-2 hours before bed. You need to have fun each day to counter the 10-12+ hours of studying otherwise you will get burned out quickly. I did not get burned out the entire time, and I have a strong feeling that this is because I took a 1 hour workout break in the middle of each day, and a 1-2 hour fun break before bed each night.

4. Sleep before the exam is very important. I know several friends who developed anxiety-induced insomnia during the week before the exam and ended up needing sleeping meds to get a good night rest. I personally did not experience the insomnia until the night before the exam, but even that was painful, because not getting any sleep the night before the exam makes for a shitty and stressed-out mentality the day you take the test. Had I thought more about it and how nervous I would be the night before the exam, I would have prepared ahead by taking some form of sleeping medication or a warm glass of milk or something like that to help me fall asleep the night before the exam. Make sure you think ahead because if am a strong-minded person and rarely get nervous before exams, so chances are that even those of you who think this does not apply to you will end up experiencing some form of anxiety or insomnia at least the night before the exam. Think ahead, make sure you do something to guarantee you a full night of sleep before the test so you are not chugging coffee the next morning and running to the bathroom every 30 minutes during Step 1.

5. Don’t get discouraged by UWorld’s difficulty. It is that way for a reason, to get you thinking down to the smallest little detail so that you can dismiss the distracters and get the answer right. Even though I did great on Step 1 my overall average in UWorld by the time I was done studying was roughly 72-74%. I did much better on actual Step 1 so that proved to me that what everyone had told me was correct, that UWorld questions are more difficult than the actual test. This is a good thing, so be happy about it, don’t get discouraged if you are scoring low on UWorld. Keep pushing through!

Those are my tips, if you have any questions feel free to email me or call me anytime. One last thing, these are just my personal study tips, and every person is different so get as much advice as you can until you feel satisfied and then form your own plan and study method and stick to it. Let me know if I can help in some other way.

Thanks and best of luck to ALL of you,

-Abe