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

Member Profile

Kaushik Amancherla (2015)
Member Type: Student, Junior Member Campus: Chicago
Specialty: Internal Medicine Program: Johns Hopkins Hospital
Advice
NOTE -- Just because my strategy worked for me doesn't mean it will work just as well for you. You know best what works for you and what doesn't. Keep that in mind when receiving advice and don't completely revamp your study habits -- stick with what works and integrate others' advice into something that works for you.

My general study method for M1/M2 year -- I NEVER went to class or streamed lectures. I really don't even know who most of the professors are. I get almost nothing out of lecture. The only classes I went to were the mandatory ones. I'm simply more efficient at teaching myself the material out of books. What I did do was learn every topic thoroughly -- I'd see what topics were being covered in class this week on the syllabus and work through those topics using whatever resources I thought were better than what the school recommended. It worked for me, but this is not going to work for everyone.

The single best thing you can do to prepare yourself for Step 1 is work hard to learn the material thoroughly during M1 and M2 years. Our school's internal data shows a strong correlation between your grades M1/M2 year and how well you do on Step 1. I really disagree with that P=MD mindset and am completely stunned when some people say that the basic sciences don't matter. You'll see on the wards that the "best" residents and attendings are the ones who have solid grasp of the basic sciences and use that to guide clinical management. So, do your best to learn the basic sciences really well -- you're doing yourself and your future patients a big favor.

How I studied for individual subjects:

Physiology -- I used Costanzo's big textbook as well as her BRS during M1 year to really learn physiology very well. This is one of the most important subjects of the first 2 years and it's very conceptual -- learn it really well! I also used Guyton's Review of Physiology question book during M1 year for practice problems. They were tough questions, but they really drilled down all the important concepts. My Step 1 exam was very heavy on pharmacology, with a LOT of arrow questions, interpretation of experimental physiology data, interpreting graphs/curves, etc -- really work hard to know your physio well! It'll help you with M2 material anyways (plus, it's super important during M3 year).

Other M1 subjects -- I really didn't do anything specific for these during M2 year. I was a peer tutor for biochem and physio, so I got to review some biochem throughout the year -- I used the Kaplan biochem lecture notes to review biochem, but I never went through the entire thing. As for the other subjects, I really just learned them well during M1 year and went back to brush up only on specific topics I felt really weak on. I didn't use First Aid much at all, but I used it to brush up on some M1 topics, because it was quicker to do so than spend time on a review book.

Pathology -- I used Pathoma religiously. I easily went through each chapter 5-7 times before our in-class exams. I took extensive notes on the margins, based on the lecture videos. By the time our in-class exams came around, I could pretty much tell you exactly how each of the corresponding chapters were organized, what was written on each page, etc. I think Dr. Sattar does an excellent job really teaching you how to approach pathology and keep broad concepts in mind, while still emphasizing some of the details we have to know. I feel like Pathoma is now the gold standard for Step 1, with Rapid Review being pushed down to second place. I don't think you can go wrong with either of those though. I just preferred Pathoma more because Dr. Sattar really emphasized concepts and that's how I prefer to think through any problems I come across -- it fit my style of thinking better. I never read big Robbins because I'm the type of person who has to read things multiple times in order to get in stuck in my head -- I knew that there's was no way I could pull off reading through Robbins multiple times, so I never wasted any time on it. Because of Pathoma, pathology was one of the topics I was most confident about before dedicated study time started -- this is a big deal, in my opinion, because pathology makes up a pretty big chunk of topics that Step 1 likes to test you on. So, do yourselves a big favor and go through Pathoma at least once during the school year -- it costs like $100, but it's easily the single-best investment I've made in med school so far. Plus, it's cost is a drop in the bucket compared to what we're shelling out for tuition...!

Pharmacology -- Kaplan pharm is GOLDEN! Lionel Raymon is the Dr. Sattar of pharmacology. I went through Kaplan pharm (both videos and lecture notes) throughout the year and that really helped me drill down pharm. When I was waiting for Red Car at night, I used to go through the Lange pharm cards that I bought on my iPhone (so I didn't have to worry about lugging around a big set of cards) and they were pretty good too, I thought. About 4 days before my Step 1 exam, I went through the various First Aid sections reading only the pharmacology part -- the pharm and micro secions of First Aid are actually pretty good and those were really the only sections I used First Aid for. Autonomic pharmacology was pretty high-yield, in retrospect, both for Step 1 and M3 year. I actually didn't have many questions on pharm at all, surprisingly, and the ones I had were easily answerable if you did Kaplan pharm.

Microbiology -- I used Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple and Microcards throughout M2 year. CMMRS was excellent for bacteria, fungi, and parasites while Microcards were immense for viruses. I really can't emphasize how useful I thought these resources were for really learning this material well and, more importantly, retaining this information for the long-term. I still remember a lot of what I read in CMMRS even now because off all the silly/stupid mnemonics they use. They're pretty dumb, but memorable enough that you remember the important stuff for a long time! I went through a second pass of Microcards during my dedicated Step 1 studying time and didn't use CMMRS during that period. Learn your bacteria and viruses really well -- they are the most high-yield for Step 1. For fungi and parasites, learn the high-yield ones (ex. malaria) because they're more likely to be tested than the more exotic ones we never really see in this country anymore.

Psychiatry -- I just used the First Aid section. It was a quick read and I felt it was of sufficient detail. Not a super high-yield topic, besides the big hitters (ex. depression, bipolar, etc). I think the drugs are more high-yield than the diseases themselves.

First Aid -- I know everyone tells you that you HAVE to read First Aid in order to do well on Step 1, but I disagree. I hated reading this thing and read maybe 1/3 of it at most (gasp!). It's a collection of high-yield facts, but it can be tough to read. It doesn't even have complete sentences! I definitely could not get myself to read this book. I read the micro, pharm, psych, and biochem sections and that's it -- I thought those sections were pretty good, but there were better resources for everything else. Pathoma was way, way, way better than the path sections of FA. And BRS physio was way, way, way better than the physio sections. So, I never bothered to read those sections of FA. If you can't get yourself to read this, it's okay -- you're not going to fail Step 1. I certainly didn't! If FA doesn't work for you, go to use resources that do work for you instead of wasting time on this.

QBANKS:

There are a ton of qbanks and qbooks to choose from. I didn't use any qbanks M1 year. Here are what I used:

M1 year:

-Guyton's Review of Physiology -- excellent, excellent physiology question book. Like I said earlier, physio is one of the most important subjects for Step 1 and medicine. It's the foundation of medicine. Really learn this well and it'll make you a better physician. I thought the questions in this book were tough, but they really helped drill down all the important concepts and details you need to know. Highly recommend this during your M1 year or if you were struggling with physio and need to go back to review certain organ systems. I still occasionally use this during M3 year if I want to drill down the concepts of a particular organ system again.

M2 year:

-Robbins Review of Pathology -- excellent pathology questions! I thought they were extremely useful to help prepare for in-class exam and they helped drill the important concepts and details you'll need to know for Step 1. The questions are not written in Step 1 style, but they're really good and I highly recommend doing these throughout the year.

-WebPath -- excellent and similar to the Robbins review questions. This is a free website that gives you all these awesome free questions. Take advantage of this! I got several questions correct on in-class exams only because I got them wrong on WebPath! I did these questions throughout the year as well.

-USMLE Rx -- this qbank actually follows First Aid pretty well (it's made by the same people) and I got through about 50% of it during the school year. The questions were way easier than what you'd expect on Step 1, but I thought it did a good job in helping you memorize random facts. If you're someone who hated reading First Aid, like me, I really recommend that you use this qbank throughout the school year.

-UWorld -- this is, hands-down, the single most important resource that you'll have for Step 1. I really cannot emphasize how important of a resource this is. If there was only one thing I could to prep for Step 1, I would easily choose UWorld. The questions are about the same difficulty (maybe a bit easier) than Step 1 and this qbank tests you on all the important things you need to know. Plus, the explanations are AMAZING -- read the explanations for the right answer and the wrong answers! Now, you'll hear different opinions on when to start doing UWorld -- some people started at the beginning of M2 year, some started in January, and others waited till March/April. I was one of those people who waited till April and did everything in randomized, timed blocks of 46 questions (just like Step 1 is). My rationale was that these were the questions that most closely approximated how Step 1 was going to be, so I didn't want to waste any of these precious questions during the school year to help me learn the material for the first time. There are a LOT of other qbooks and qbanks that are out there -- why not use those for learning and save this important qbank towards the end? It really integrates different subjects well, just like Step 1, and doing it randomized, timed and in 46-question blocks is the best strategy in my opinion -- because I did this for 6 weeks straight, I felt very comfortable going through my blocks on the real Step 1. It just felt like I was doing UWorld again and it was a huge boost in confidence.


Anyways, I'll add more later. Just thought I'd add some stuff here quickly since I know some of the M2s are planning on studying during winter break. I personally didn't study during winter break because I didn't want to risk burning out, but you know yourself best. Be careful and avoid burn out as much as you can. Best of luck guys!