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Member Profile

Sarah Durrin (2017)
Member Type: Student, Senior Member Campus: Chicago
Specialty: Pediatrics Program: Children's National Medical Center
Advice
I remember feeling really overwhelmed with how to make a study plan and what resources to use! Below is an outline of what I did second semester for those of you that are looking for further guidance. Many of my friends did something very similar to this, however other friends did very different things and still did great on Step 1. So disclaimer: this worked for me! May not be for everyone, take advice from anyone with a grain of salt.

Next thing to remember is even if you make a perfect study plan, you’re probably not going to be able to stick to it, and that is ok! These are flexible plans, they change and morph right up until test day. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall off your calendar, the most important thing is that you have an organized approach to make sure you are systematically working through all of the material.

1) Resources: there are a million! I would find 1-2 that you like and stick with them. The most important one is First Aid - if you only studied First Aid you would do well on Step 1. My problem with First Aid is it's just bullet points of info to memorize, and I don't learn like that. So, I used First Aid as an outline of what information/details were important, and then used Kaplan or Pathoma to help explain the concepts to me so that I really understood the material rather than just memorized the page. 

Here are the resources I used 2nd semester:
First Aid: an outline for what to study and in what depth. If something isn’t in here, don’t spend too much time learning it, because there is already plenty of information in First Aid.
Pathoma: used for studying all pathology
Kaplan videos: watched these for pharm studying, biochem and immune step 1 studying
Goljan pathology: listened to his podcasts in the weeks before a pathology tests. Sometimes I would read chapters of his book if I needed more help on a subject, he goes into more detail and explains the physiology as well.
Deja Review Books for pharm and micro (they are just basically flash cards books to quiz yourself)

Disclaimer #2) I never went to class and barely watched the recordings - which I felt guilty about, but I study too slow to be able to fit all of those resources in. The few days before a test I would scroll through the class slides and make sure I wasn't missing anything huge, but mostly I did my own thing. Not everyone did this, but for me it was the only way I could manage it all. 

2) Scheduling: This is the trickiest part! My overall plan (which I don't think actually happened), was to go over everything in First Aid once by the time dedicated study time came. This didn't mean have it completely memorized (I never had all of First Aid memorized, it's literally impossible), but just at least be familiar with it. 

As for how I tried to do this... 
A) Obviously classes come first, so I would use whatever system we were covering in class as my guide. For example, if we were doing Respiratory, I would:
     1. Read/watch to Pathoma
     2. Find the corresponding sections in First Aid and review them, copying any extra info/notes from Pathoma into First Aid
     3. Review the physiology section of that system (respiratory) in First Aid, supplementing with Kaplan Videos or Goljan or anything else that explains physiology to me (there were a few organ systems I didn't know well) and taking those notes into First Aid
     4. Do some UWorld Qbank questions on physiology/pathology for this organ system, "marking" ones that have good explanations that you might want to review again later 

^^ This was my main focus 2nd semester. Pathology and physiology are the most important subjects for First Aid – so prioritize those! For classes like micro, I mainly studied out of First Aid and the class slides (if they were good). For pharm, I used Kaplan videos/notes to learn and took notes in First Aid. I will say these are my weaker subjects though, so there may have been a better approach. For psych, I just studied the info in First Aid. If something in First Aid didn't make sense to me, I would try to find an outside resource for these subjects, and supplement as needed, but I can't think of any that I used regularly (except probably wiki haha)

B) Just doing the "A" part goes a long way in starting to prep for Step 1. What I tried to do beyond that, when I could (like the week following an exam), was review 1st semester material. So I would go through the same process for stuff from 1st semester Pathology, not necessarily re-watching the Pathoma videos, but taking notes in First Aid. I did this as much as I could, but obviously time constraints are hard. 

C) First year material is pretty light on Step 1, so this was my last priority. When I felt like I could spend a few hours, I would pick a section of First Aid (anatomy, biochem, immuno) and try to review 1-2 pages. I used Kaplan videos, again taking notes in First Aid, for Biochem and Immuno (because I never learned them well the first time). Anatomy I just reviewed what was in first aid. Neuro is the worst, I just read first aid and hoped for the best, it still haunts me.  

Like I said, I made a really detailed plan to try to stick to this schedule, but my initial schedule was totally unreasonable -- so it changed a lot. Do what you can! Focus on "A", and then add in if you have time. A lot of people I know, including myself, used the app below to make a schedule. I didn't stick to the schedule they gave me - but I used it as an outline of how to approach my studying. 

http://usmlexcellence.com/

By the time April practicum came, I had a least flipped through most of First Aid, and I used practicum as a time to review all of the 1st year stuff I hadn't gotten to (biochem etc). Then, I used dedicated study time to focus on solidifying details and Qbank questions, which are incredibly valuable. I tried to get through UWorld twice, but didn't quite make it - but I recommend getting through it at least once with enough time to look over all of your incorrect or marked questions. If you do get to it twice, the second time is much faster (I think I did like 75% of it in 2-3 weeks)