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

Member Profile

Samuel Rubenstein (2014)
Member Type: Student, Senior Member Campus: Chicago
Specialty: Internal Medicine Program: Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Advice
First off, my email is srubins2@uic.edu, so don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions on the below. I'm going into IM, so if you want advice on IM applications/want to know some M3-early M4 strategies to optimize your IM application/where you should apply, please feel free to email me as well!

What I did to get through Step 1 studying:
-UWorldx1 during M2 second semester, annotating incorrect answers in FA, redoing all incorrect answers prior to reboot. First UWSA when 80% done with this or so, 36 points below eventual Step 1, Second UWSA when done with UWorld, 20 points below eventual Step 1
-Kaplan QBankx1 + Pathoma during practicum, finished by the end of practicum, third UWSA after this was 1 point above eventual Step 1
-Redid UWorldx1, reading FA as needed, serially doing UWSAs ~QWeekly, which climbed to 6 points above my eventual Step 1
-During the last week, I made flashcards of hardest information for me to learn from FA (storage diseases, antiarrhythmics, usual suspects), went over some scattered resources for information that isn't covered by FA that I felt to be weak spots (BRS Anatomy Upper Limbs/Lower Limbs/Pelvis, for most students I would advocate some neuroanatomy review during this time but I didn't need to do this because I was a neuro tutor M2 year)
-Throughout all of the above, reviewed MicroCards and PharmCards PRN

My advice to you younger shmorks:

-TAKE M2 SECOND SEMESTER COURSEWORK SERIOUSLY! This is probably the second-highest-yield semester in terms of Step 1 studying, so why blow it off? Review will be more effective if you've learned the information well the first time.

-Like Will Smith says in the movie Hitch, stay close to your home: focus the overwhelming majority of your study time on UWorld and First Aid. 80% of the exam comes right out of FA and UWorld, so your score will benefit the most from learning these resources well rather than trying to shotgun every review book from every med school course.

-Use ancillary resources to cram easily memorizable information close to the exam, if anything; I did this and it actually helped, I can remember a goofy pelvic anatomy question that I got because I read the BRS chapter on that a couple days prior to taking the exam.

-If you happen to get through questions quickly, as I do, Kaplan is worth doing once, but if you think you're going to struggle to get through UWorld twice prior to the exam, don't do it. It mostly will be useful because it frames questions in slightly different ways to UWorld, and it will provide you with a few random details that aren't in UWorld or FA, but which are less commonly tested than the details in UWorld/FA.

-Pathoma is a great resource, but I'd advice using it as a review text during Step 1 studying rather than during your second year pathology course (as I'm hearing many med students do these days). My score bumped 21 points after using Pathoma, but it's mostly because he's really good at tying together pathologies involving different organ systems, so I don't think my score would have benefitted as much from Pathoma had I used it during the course. Goljan was pretty money for intra-M2 pathology review (but for me, pretty useless during dedicated Step 1 review).

-Make sure you don't spend all day, every day studying. Leave yourself time to do you! I made sure to break up my studying with daily workouts, podcast listening, homecooked meals, and yes, frequent socializing and occasional two carbon fragment consumption. You have probably noticed from cramming for M1 and M2 exams that there's an amount of daily studying after which you're not really learning anything (for me, this is about 7-8 hours daily). Why would this number change just because you're studying for the NBME's exam rather than Dr. Lieska's exam? Limit yourself, and use the rest of your time for activities that you enjoy. You'll find your studying will be more focused that way, too.

-Take the exam 1-2 weeks earlier than you think you need to! A couple of different reasons for this:
*There is so much information on this exam that, if you study for long enough, information you gain from studying will start to barely compensate for information you've already learned and subsequently forgotten, and eventually, you won't be able to learn as much as you've forgotten. As you can see from the above, my eventual Step 1 score was 6 points below where my UWSAs maxed out, and I hit a score 1 point above my eventual Step score on the UWSA I did immediately after practicum, which was ~3 weeks before my Step 1. Pretty sure this was because I started to forget the Kreb's cycle Bottom line: your score is likely to be higher if you take it a little earlier than you think, so don't cut off your nose to spite your face by taking it later.
*You're a medical student, which means you're probably pretty neurotic, which means you're overestimating how hard this thing is (it's definitely a beast, but it doesn't hold a candle to a good JArt exam, for example), and thus, how much time you need to study for it. Relax!
*You'll want, need, and deserve a nice vacation prior to third year. I went to a music festival outside of Seattle for 4 days, and then to Hong Kong and Thailand for 10 days between Step 1 and the first week of ECPP, and let me tell you, it was definitely more fun than studying for the boards for another two weeks.

-Remember: Every year, people get better at studying for the Step 1 (averages have been climbing 2-3 points per year of late), so take advice from old people like me with a grain of salt. Similar to the ancient surgical attending who says to treat ulcers with milk rather than PPIs and antibiotics, people who took the exam years ago don't keep up with the newest strategies. What your friends are doing is likely to be higher yield than what any of us can tell you that we did.

-Lastly: If you email Mike Blasco and get his BBQ Sauce advice, take it. The man has good taste.