USMLE Study Strategy by Successful Students (Part 5 of 6)

General Advice about Step 1

  • Have a plan and try to work as per that plan on everyday basis. But yes, do remember that life is always a somersualt and can ruin you plan often. And hence there will be some days where you will be much productive and others will just frustrate you. But do not worry and just focus on sticking to your plan.

How did you approach this exam?

  • I set up a schedule for myself to which I adhered to. It had all the components that are required to get thorough for the exam.

Did you use a subject review or a system-based approach, and how well did that prepare you?

  • I preferred both of them. I used some books that were only subject review books. The two question banks of First Aid and USMLE World are both system-based and subject sections.

Did you form study groups, how did you go about forming them, and how effective were they?

  • I studied by myself.

What books were essential for preparing for this exam?

  • I learnt and referred to First Aid, Goljan Rapid Review Path, Rapid Review Biochem, BRS Behavioral Science, and Linda Costanzo's Physiology text (especially for the cardiovascular system).

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

  • No, I did not refer to the notes, except to review the brachial plexus. I used Doctors in Training to review. But I regret that I had known about Pathoma-I from which I could have studied about Organ Systems.

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

  • The best question book that I found was USMLE World especially to review Pharmacology. I studied it thoroughly.

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

  • I started studying only after Organ Systems was over. But yes, you are to focus critically in those classes to get a thorough grip over the subject. This is the preparation for the test in a way. I don't think starting to study before Organ Systems was over would have done any good.

How long did you prepare for?

  • I prepared for 6 weeks.

What was your everyday schedule like once you began to study? How did you prevent tiredness?

  • I started my day for studying early in the morning as I woke up early. Then I would go through different books during the day. In between I took small breaks to relax. I found that studying different things helped to keep me focused.

How many times did you dedicate to each subject? What was the breakdown?

  • I divided my complete time to study various parts for the exam. 4 days I dedicated for cardio, 3 days for renal, 3 days for respiratory, 3 days for GI, 3 days neurology, one day for a practice test, 2 days for hemonc, 2 days for endocrinology, 1 day for reproductive, 1 day for musculo-skeletal/derm, 2 days for immunology, 2 days for biochem, another practice test, 3 days for behavioral/biostats, and ethics, 3 days for microbiology, another practice test (3 NBME practice tests in all), and 1 − 2 days to review everything. Everyone says to rest and not study the day before the test. I studied the day before the test.

What did you do a week before the exam and the night before exam?

  • I had to change my test date, hence I relaxed for about 10 days before I took up the actual test and then studied right up until Test Day.