USMLE Study Strategies for various subjects

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Microbiology & Immunology

  • 40% bacteriology, 25% immunology, 25% virology, 5% parasitology. These are the proportions in which questions will be asked in paper. So sont focus alone on bacteriology!

  • Focus on distinguishing characteristics, target organs, method of spread, and diagnosis

  • Have the knowledge of immune response, vaccines, immunodeficiency diseases

  • Know about viral structures and genome.


  • This one forms a major portion of questions.

  • Know the main and important characteristics of each disease including signs and symptoms

  • When you see the questions, half of the clues you will get by looking at the age, sex, ethnicity, activity

  • Know descriptions of trigger words

  • Most questions with gross specimens and photomicrographs can be answered from the history given, of the patient


  • Focus on prototypic drugs; forget obscure derivatives, trade names, dosages

  • Focus on major categories such as ANS, CNS, antimicrobial, cardiovascular, and oncology

  • Mechanisms, clinical uses, and toxicities are highly important. Study them properly.

  • Review the related biochemistry, physiology and microbiology


  • The questions from this category are concept oriented

  • Focus and learn diagrams well in physiology

  • You must have the knowledge of basic physiologic relationships, hormones

  • Many clinical vignettes incorporate pathophysiology


  • The component of this topic is very less in the paper.

  • Have the knowledge related to specific diseases, traumatic injuries, procedures, and common surgeries

  • Neuroanatomy, embryology, basic cross sectional anatomy should be more focused upon areas.

  • You should be able to recognise structures on X-rays, CTs, MRIs, electron micrographs, and photomicrographs

Behavioral Science

  • Mix of biostats, psychiatry, psychology, sociology, psychopharmacology

  • Biostats and epidemiology are the most important portions.

  • Be aware of personality disorders

  • You should be able to manage well Doctor-patient interactions


  • The most important topics include vitamin deficiencies, diseases of genetic errors, key regulatory enzymes

  • Understand the pathobiochemistry

  • Have knowledge of medically relevant laboratory techniques

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