USMLE Study Strategy by Successful Students (Part 1 of 6)

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General Advice about Step 1

  • Start preparation all thw while from second year of your study. Buy the world question bank so as you understand concepts from the beginnignrather than just memorising the facts from First Aid. Do each and every question at the time of your study period. Understanding important concepts related to physiology, pharmacology, pathology not only happen during second year, but happen by doing these questions. Don't forget to take care of yourself! Eat right, exercise, take breaks, watch tv, etc. This is extremely important.

How did you approach this exam?

  • This exam is like any other exam of your career. Approach it with great confidence. This confidence automatically comes when you have studied well in the first two years rather than rushing off to study at the last moment. Do not let go any topic in your medical school which haven't got the thorough concept of. Take time to learn it.
  • Know you: Be very clear of what you want to be, what are your goals, your own perception of your abilities, and your overall performance throughout medical school. Everyone's ‘approach’ is different, but the ultimate destination of everyone lies where they can best prove their mettle. Know your study method. Stick to them. Don't change the techniques on behalf of what others say.
  • Avoid the company of negative people. Don't let negative or overconfident people affect you. Just believe in your progress and your status of study. Do not compare yourself with others.

What books were essential for preparing for this exam?

  • First Aid for Step 1 (the gold standard)
  • BRS Physiology
  • BRS Pathology (or Goljan)
  • These books were useful to me a lot. Its not necessary that you refer only these books. Its your choice. Do not collect books and keep it for later to read. Just start reading as you won't have time later. I think BRS Physiology is a great book and really discusses material very pertinent to the exam.

What review courses did you use? Did you use notes from 1st and 2nd year?

  • Doctors in Training course was extremely useful to me as it gave me a predesigned schedule that I should have to complete my studies within the time that I had. Apart from giving facts, it also states some useful information which helps thoroughly. ALso it takes help of video based lectures. THis makes studying less boring. This may not see apparent to all the candidates concerned but it was helpful to me. I never used notes from 1st or 2nd year.

Do you have any recommendations or general comments about Question Banks? How useful were they in your studies? Which ones did you use?

  • I used USMLEWorld. According to me, this was the most important thing that forms a portion of my marks. I read each and every answer in this question bank. More than reading the questions, what was important is to read the answers that gave clarification to many of my doubts. Just try to answer without looking and make a note of all those questions you get wrong so as to revise later. I revised it in my spring vacation. I honestly think I learned an additional 40% of information just by STUDYING these questions and taking notes on things I wanted to remember or thought was important.

How early did you begin studying? Would you go back and change that if you could?

  • Again, I studied pretty hard during Organ Systems and tried to work through the Uworld Questions. I really started studying 1 week after the end of second year. Many people started right away so they could have more weeks off for summer, but I thought the time off before the real studying was effective for me.

How long did you prepare for?

  • Six weeks. Actually studied for 5 weeks and kept the last week to revise.