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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

USMLE Step 1, the working formula!

This is my experience of USMLE Step 1 that I am sharing with you guys hoping some of you might find something useful in it. I will try to keep it to the point. :)

Kaplan except for pathology for which I used Goljan and Microbiology for which I read Made Ridiculously Simple once and then First Aid +uworld notes. The Kaplan's Microbiology notes are too detailed so decided not to study that. I had used MRS in my third year as well so it was an easy choice. One thing we usually tend to ignore is the ethics part of the exam. For that, I studied this small book by Conrad Fischer called "100 cases you're most likely to see in your exam". Very useful book, helped in all USMLE exams.

Video Lectures
Personally I am not a great fan of the videos, but they DO help a lot. They are not our typical class lectures. Specially with subjects like neuroanatomy, genetics and behavioral sciences, they were really helpful. I skipped the video lectures for pathology and microbiology. Some of the lecturers talk very slowly, for that I would speed up the video to 1.5x, would save up some time and make it less boring. I watched the videos with my first read. I would give a quick read to a few pages in the book, then watch the video and write down stuff on the book.

Kaplan Qbank:
Personally I don't think its that high yield. Yes it helps but I felt that I could have done without it. If you want to save up money than do this one offline. I did it along with my second read of Kaplan.

USMLE world:
This is the real deal!!! Some questions are actually tougher than the real exam. The interface is EXACTLY the same as the exam so when I was taking the exam, I felt very comfortable. I did all questions once, used the notes utility that comes within the interface as I am really good at typing which saved alot of time. Then I got those notes printed and read them again and again. I got two months subscription and did two blocks a day, which would hardly leave anytime for reading any other material. These days most people do it offline from the books. You can do that, but even after that I think one should use the online version to get familiar with the exam's interface. Plus you get to see the slides, radio images and scenarios based on heart sounds.

First Aid
Very useful! I did it after uworld along with uworld notes. I reserved it for the last month and this along with the uworld notes was the only material I studied in the last few weeks.

Self Assesment:
Once you are done with studying the books and uworld, its time to test yourself. I took NBME twice. One immediately after I finished uworld and second after revising uworld notes and First Aid. These days uworld has a self assessment exam as well which, if bought along with the qbank, costs just 10 dollars. NBME is pretty accurate in predicting your score. Uworld self assessment generally overestimates your score by 10-20 points.

Actual exam:
Honestly speaking I found it easier than I was expecting. Very few recall questions. Some concepts were repeated. Micro and Pharma, very straight forward and easy! Physiology very tricky, specially graphs and all those isolated preparations questions. Loads of questions from anatomy, specially upper limb's nerve supply.

Kaplan +Video lectures
Kaplan + Kaplan Qbank
Usmle world
USMLE World + First Aid

Best of luck to all you test takers!!! Have faith in yourself! Its very doable. Feel free to ask any questions, I'll be happy to answer.

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