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

Member Profile

Caroline Novak (2011)
Member Type: Student, Senior Member Campus: Chicago
Specialty: Radiation Oncology Program: Northwestern University
Advice
USMLE STEP 1 ADVICE

First breathe. Really. Donít be crazy and donít start studying over winter break. Go somewhere warm and pretty, so you have good memories when you are sucking it up in May.

Do start in March, instead of waiting until practicum. I did about 4 -6 hours a week of path from the falll and winter from St. Patrickís day onwards, stepped it up to about 15-20/week during practicum.

Hereís what I used:
-FIRST AID (cover to cover x3. Painful but totally worth it)
-Golijan (when I went running or to the gym only)
-Kaplan books x1 each (except path, which is garbage and Micro, see below)
-Micro made ridiculously simple x 1
-Robbins (realistically, I read about 1/2 of it) and the Robbins questions (I did all of them, they rock)
-Any notes from any lecture Zar ever gave.
-Qbank (did it once, made it through about 1/2 of my incorrects)
-In addition I did 3 NBMEs, one right before practicum started, one about a week after it ended (3 weeks before I took the test) and one a week before the test. My score went up, stepwise. I HIGHLY suggest doing the NBMEs.

Here are my (dubious) pearls:
-Itís totally ok to save certain things (NOT PATH) for last minute. Literally did biochem the day before the test, and have subsequently forgotten what glycolysis is. This hasnít hurt me yet...
-Be happy. I didnít study more than 9-10 hours/day, tops. If you can do it, fine...but in my experience misery doesnít improve your ability to concentrate. Know yourself. Cook, work out, see friends, take breaks.
-As best you can, try to enjoy the studying. Sounds impossible, but my roommate and I quizzed each other on micro and pharm, made up ridiculous acronyms and rhymes, and diagnosed each other and everyone we knew with everything. It made the whole process a LOT more tolerable.

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USMLE STEP 2 ADVICE

I took step 2 SUPER early (during the middle of my last rotation of third year) and I strongly suggest this approach. I didnít want to take any time off to study (Iíd rather travel) and I didnít want to wait to take it until the winter, when I wouldíve forgotten a lot of stuff. The week or two before the test, when I was on inpatient peds and simultaneously studying were pretty crappy. But 4 months out, it was TOTALLY worth it. I had time for an additional away rotation, applied with a step 2 score, and got it over with before the summer.

I used 4 resources only:
-USMLEWORLD Qbank x 2 Bought it at the Beginning of third year, used it for all the shelves. VERY helpful. Reset and did it a second time in the month before I took CK.
-Zarís IM review. Best lecture of life. Gospel.
-First AID 2CK x 2 (again, painful, but there has to be some painful rote memorization in there somewhere or it wouldnít be medical school...)
-I took three NBMEs again. One right after the medicine shelf in March, after which point I decided to schedule CK for late april. One three weeks before the test, and one a week before the test. Again, my scores went up gradually and it was a good estimate.

My goal was to NOT go down by more than 5 points from my step one score, I ended up going up 15. Disclaimer: I LOVED third year, and had some strong rotations (OB and IM at UIC).