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

Member Profile

Michael Huvard (2015)
Member Type: Student, Junior Member Campus: Chicago
Specialty: Ophthalmology Program: University of Michigan Hospitals
Advice
What I found to be the most important preparation for Step 1 was putting forth the initial effort to master the M1/M2 material (especially M2). Doing this will make your Step 1 studying faster, allow you to make more meaningful connections, and, most importantly, give you the ability to cite esoteric facts to people who really don’t care that you can name the branches of the internal carotid artery.

**General M1/M2 Advice**

-Anki: I used this flashcard program to study for every class. Making your own cards followed by spaced repetition really does wonders and will help you retain information long-term. In addition, you can put parameters on your decks (e.g. filtering your cards into sub-decks or suspending cards) to focus on your weaknesses, a feature that I used a lot closer to tests (and Step 1).

-M2 Study Resources: I really only used a few resources all year. (I forgot what I did M1 year, and other than physiology none of it is really on Step 1 anyway). The following were my M2 resources.

-Pathoma: For me, this was the most important resource for learning pathology (and thus the most important resource of M2 year). First, I would listen to the lectures and take extensive notes. Then, I would make flashcards. Sometimes, I would pretend to teach imaginary classes (the idea being that if I could teach a chapter with minimal reference to the book, I had mastered the material). Yes, I am crazy (for Pathoma).

-WebPath questions + Robbins question book: Good for seeing how pathology (and some pathophysiology) will be tested during the year.

-Goljan: In my opinion, more useful for learning pathophysiology than pathology. I used it sparingly — mostly on topics not covered well in Pathoma (e.g. fluids/electrolytes, nutrition).

-Dr. Zar’s CPP Reviews: My main resource for pathophysiology. The brilliance of his lectures is even more apparent when you reach the clinical years. I recommend trying to learn pathology and CPP together.

-Microcards: Best resource for microbiology, although I admit that I used a few lectures that had diseases not covered by microcards.

-Kaplan pharmacology videos: For our tests, I crammed the reviews given by Thomas Chen (they were great). Otherwise, I focused on the Kaplan videos.

-First Aid for Step 1 Psychiatry Chapter: During the year, I used FA only for psychiatry.

**Step 1 Specific Advice**

-Planning: I didn’t start seriously studying for Step 1 until our dedicated study time in April/May. I gave myself ~6 weeks, which in retrospect was too much time. I felt that my knowledge peaked at the beginning of week 5. In fact, I tried moving my test date up, but it was too much of a hassle (and actually impossible because all the slots were full).

-Study strategy: During my dedicated 6 weeks, I set general goals for myself (finish UWorld, read FA, review my weaknesses, do 1 NBME/week), but otherwise didn’t plan my day-to-day activities. If I felt like I was banging my head against my desk trying to get through one study goal, I would move on to something else until I got back into the study groove. And if I really felt like I couldn’t be productive, then I would take the rest the day off. Save your energy for studying when you can study “in the zone.”

-UWorld: This was the most important resource I used. The questions were excellent and the explanations were even better. I decided to save UWorld for my dedicated study time because I didn’t want my first pass of UWorld to also be a true first pass of the material. I did blocks of 46 randomized (that is important b/c it trains your brain to dance between subjects and approach questions with more skepticism). I annotated all of UWorld (both the main learning point and any “high-yield” information in the explanations of other answers) into FA over the first ~2.5 weeks. I probably learned the most from choosing which information was worth annotating and then deciding where in FA it should belong.

-USMLERx: I thought that this question bank a good representation of the material in First Aid, but presented in a way that makes First Aid tolerable to read. I ended up doing most of the questions after UWorld. Not as much annotation was needed because the material came directly from FA, but ~20% of the questions were information beyond FA that I decided to annotate.

-Pathoma: I rewatched all the videos and reread the book before the pathology and pathophysiology NBMEs at the end of M2 / start of dedicated study time.

-First Aid for Step 1: FA was most useful as a PDF that I could search when deciding where to include my UWorld annotations. I tried to sit down and read through my fully-annotated copy of First Aid, but usually I’d fall asleep. For me, the book was best read indirectly via annotating UWorld. I probably got 1-2 detailed passes of the book down simply by annotating (or, more often than not, finding the answer to my question already word-for-word in FA). And I think that if you have a strong knowledge background, then FA (combined with UWorld) is adequate to cover every subject for Step 1.

-NBME Practice Exams: I thought that these were best used as a gauge of your progress, not as a learning tool. I did 1x/week.

-Fun: I say this half-jokingly, but the idea is that it’s important to not abandon your social life and deprive yourself of anything fun. During my dedicated time for Step 1, I watched the new season of Arrested Development and ~3 seasons of The West Wing. I also worked out almost every day, cooked, and made it a point to see my friends outside medical school.

Summary: FA + UWorld + Pathoma + NBME practice tests = my strategy

Like many others, I’ll offer the disclaimer that what worked for me may not work for you. Good luck everyone!