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Memorizing for Micro

Discussion in 'Step I' started by katiesb, 04.19.12.

  1. katiesb

    katiesb

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    So Micro wasn't my best subject, it took me until about the last quarter few months of the class to figure out how best to study for it. I'm a really conceptual learner, which is good for physio, path etc., but I found that flashcards were the best way for me to memorize all the buzzwords, etc in Micro. Once I started making flashcards my grades shot up.

    So now I'm going through CMMRS and I'm glad that I'm understanding some concepts that I didn't during my class, but I get really frustrated when I try to apply that knowledge to Qbanks (Kaplan and Uworld). The ones I have trouble with are the three part questions where you have to identify the organism than answer a question about that organism.

    I feel like I need a way to drill the basic, one-part information first, but I think making my own flashcards at this point would be take too much time (my test in at the end of June and I still have a lot to get through). Any suggestions?

    From the reviews of Micro Cards it seems like those have more info per card than I'm looking for. I haven't heard much about Deja Review, anyone tried it? Or should I just suck it up and make flashcards out of FA?

    Thanks! :oops:
  2. NightSwim

    NightSwim Stressed Applicant

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    I recommend the latter - memorizing the crap out of the micro FA section. After I took my first practice test I realized micro was far and away my worst subject. I studied the FA section a little everyday, trying to memorize the mnemonics for stuff like the encapsulated bacterium, the naked viruses, the culture medias, the exotoxins, everything about every bacterium (lol), etc. After doing this, I did significantly better on the uworld micro questions, although I still had a lot to learn from them. Now I'm actually excited to see a micro question pop up on a practice NBME test, rather than being terrified. So yeah, make some flashcards and quiz yourself over and over. You don't have to learn it all in a day, take it one part at a time. Just my experience.
    Last edited: 04.19.12
  3. gravitywave

    gravitywave fourth year

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    flashcards of whatever type. it took me the longest time to accept that i needed the crutch, but drilling them really is the only way. i used GT, but the highly rated ones in the back of FA are also very effective from what i understand.
  4. CatFactorial

    CatFactorial

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    titcr
  5. secants

    secants about:blank

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    I drilled with microcards during my class and have been using GT since then. Hard part if trying to figure out what bug presents like that scenario in the Qbank since it's all downhill form there if you know the classic stuff about each of them.
  6. kimbosliced

    kimbosliced SDN Bronze Donor Bronze Donor

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    Funny, I'll basically only use GT now for Micro stuff although I ended up with over 70% banked. It was taking me too long to get through GT by itself so I scrapped it for more qbanks. But the micro section a lone makes it great.
  7. Robot Skeleton

    Robot Skeleton

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    I did GT pretty much exclusively for the microbio content, and found it very effective. Micro ended up being a big strength by the time test day rolled around. The GT micro section is very complete, and will help you breeze through the FA section, as well as your qbanks. It's painful, but it works.
  8. shan564

    shan564 Below the fray

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    I picked up a used copy of Microcards for $10 because of the rave reviews around here. I haven't really fallen in love with them like some other people have, but I'll keep at it...
  9. katiesb

    katiesb

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    Thanks for the input! I never really looked into GT before, just signed up for the free trial!
  10. jumpmanv15

    jumpmanv15

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    whats GT? :confused:
  11. CatFactorial

    CatFactorial

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  12. amaprez

    amaprez

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    [​IMG]
  13. shan564

    shan564 Below the fray

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    For me, a useful tool with micro studying is just reviewing it in different ways with different materials. For instance, I went through CMMRS and FA micro with a study group in 2nd year. I don't remember any of it now, but when I looked through it in FA again, it was vaguely familiar. And even after that, I wasn't doing particularly well on UW/Kaplan micro questions, but my performance has gradually improved as I pick up bits of micro here and there from studying systems or doing questions. And now I'm making another FA pass with the help of DIT, and the micro parts are a lot more palatable than they were initially.
  14. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

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    I've been using GT for many years. It has made all the difference.
  15. amaprez

    amaprez

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    This is the single most demotivating aspect of being a student. Stupid brain is a sieve.
  16. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

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    It's really the best creation on earth. It just retains what you need to use or use consistently.

    It won't retain things that have no meaning or value to you long term.
  17. shan564

    shan564 Below the fray

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    Unfortunately, that describes about half the content on Step 1.
  18. kimbosliced

    kimbosliced SDN Bronze Donor Bronze Donor

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    I wouldn't recommend purchasing GT just for the step micro at this point BUT they usually run free trials sometimes 2 weeks to a month. If that's the case, it's definitely worth grabbing it and using it just bank all the Micro/Immuno Cards on the first day you get it. You'll have a daily review to make sure you don't forget anything but it probably won't be more than 100 cards a day which would take about 30-45 minutes to get through.

    On another note, I haven't used my GT in awhile and I have like 1000 questions due to today plus a few thousand for review...so overwhelming..glad I quit it but for select purposes it is worthwhile.
  19. CaptainSSO

    CaptainSSO

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    True. We didn't evolve to memorize thousands of disparate facts about organisms so tiny we can't even see them with unaided eyes.

    The fact that we can retain as much as we can is amazing.
  20. jhamaican

    jhamaican

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    It is really not so bad if you keep a steady routine. I haven't even finished first year yet and have ~38banked/33 mastery so around 1/3 done and I only have 40-50 cards per day? Takes me only like 30 minutes at most. I suspect it will be around 1-2 hours/day when its all said and done? Personally I would rather pay now then in blood at crunch time.
  21. FIREitUP

    FIREitUP

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    sounds like you either have a really good retention of the material, or you're rating your cards too high. The reason why you're not getting many questions for review is because you're rating a lot of cards 5's.
  22. CatFactorial

    CatFactorial

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    Thanks for the summary.
  23. FIREitUP

    FIREitUP

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    np :love:

    edit: i just wanted to point out in my previous point that the user's experience in not having so many daily questions is atypical since he has very good retention of the material.
    Last edited: 04.20.12
  24. islandCrazy

    islandCrazy

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    While I'm a big GT Fan, I prefer to make my own flashcards for Micro since its my weakest area. Making cards seems to help me actual memorize a lot more details then simply doing the GT cards. Also I have been putting each cards into categories of 50 questions each, which seems to also help. The information from the cards is from FA and once I have those down I will add extra information from Qbanks.
  25. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

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    I quit GT also. It's not for everyone.
  26. shan564

    shan564 Below the fray

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    Yeah, it took me 5 minutes to decide that it wouldn't work for me.
  27. Ronin786

    Ronin786 ASA Member

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    "I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it."

    Sherlock Holmes
  28. Phloston

    Phloston SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor

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    I went through the Sanjiv Microcards before having read FA (I probably spent ~60 total hours on them, if not more). Then I did the micro from FA.

    Out of the 25 subjects in Rx QBank, micro is my strongest. I owe any questions I've gotten right about organism-classification to the Microcards.

    FA is necessary for knowing about the various toxins and mechanisms of action, etc., but the Microcards are for memorizing the tree-algorithms so that you know the classifications of all organisms.

    Out of any resource I've used for Step1 prep (and I own ~50 [I'm one of those people]), excluding FA and the QBanks, the Microcards rank #1.
  29. mdeast

    mdeast

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    I bought Microcards (different sent than described above), but found them unhelpful. They were basically a textbook written in card form and that's not the way to learn. (Unless of course you have 60 hours....but I assume a lot of us don't at this point).

    To be honest, all you need to know is the stuff in First Aid. I try and go through it everyday for 30 minutes just to refresh myself on bugs and then do a random block of 20 microbiology question from UWorld or Qbank.

    To be honest, that's the best way to keep up with both micro and pharm (at least from what I've been finding). For instance, review CV pharm. Do a block of CV-only pharm questions. Next day, do Pulm Pharm. Do CV+Pulm random block of pharm questions, etc. Same goes for Microbiology.

    It'll depend on how you learn, but I think the QBanks + FA are sufficient learning tools for knowing bugs and associations cold. Drugs too. There's very little on those subjects that you can't look up in First Aid.

    Also....remember that Step 1 is a tricky, but straight-forward exam. They always present you with the very typical presentation of a disease and ask you something about it. Most of your questions on this subjects will be gauged on the more high yield facts and exceptions to the rule. I.e. they're more likely to want you to know that parvovirus is the only ssDNA virus than recognizing that Polyomaviruses are dsDNA.
  30. Phloston

    Phloston SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor

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    I actually don't think that the detail in the cards surpasses what we need to know. As I had said before, these cards are known for their tree-algorithms, which are fantastic. When I had read FA for the first time, because I had already gone through the Microcards, I felt like I had already covered the FA chapter before. This is when I realized that the Microcards are undoubtedly phenomenal (I also personally enjoy the subject, so I didn't mind spending the 60 hours on them).

    FA has a lot of important information regarding organisms and the mechanisms of action of toxins, however, not only is FA not comprehensive in these areas, their scheme for presenting organism-classification is fairly non-specific.

    I actually believe the worst thing you can do is sit a block of questions on a topic immediately after studying that material (e.g. pharm questions after reading pharm). The repetition and reinforcement needs to be spread out beyond the short-term, with different topics studied between. If you study tacrolimus, for example, then do a block of questions and that drug shows up, it doesn't say much if you get the question right; however if you study that drug, then do mixed, random questions, and it shows up 600 questions later and you still get it right, that's more effective reinforcement. To that effect, it's even better reinforcement if you get it wrong, because that would help emphasize where true strengths and weaknesses really are beyond the short-term. And in the end, we need to have a clear picture of exactly what needs to be tweaked.

    I agree that the QBanks + FA, together, are more than likely comprehensive, but a select few adjunct resources put the icing on the cake, particularly if you go through FA but not every QBank.

    Step1 doesn't always give typical presentations. There will most certainly be a handful of questions on the exam that fall into this category. This is most certainly why no one gets a perfect score (apart from the minutiae anatomy questions, etc.). If you've only hit the HY, then you'd probably walk out of the exam and not even realize that something had gone unnoticed. Most of the time, there is still a % of unmarked questions that we get wrong.

    The test is too variable to draw conclusions like that.
  31. Convalaria

    Convalaria

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    Didn't want to start new thread...so, here's the question:

    HCV being enveloped RNA virus forms its envelope by budding from:
    - host intracellular membrane (for example nucleus membrane);
    - host plasma membrane?

    When I first read RR Micro (can't find the exact page now) I did a note in FA that virus replicating in cytoplasm uses intracellular membranes phospholipids for its envelope.
    And now explanation for UW question #1408 states that it uses plasma membrane.

    So, where's the truth?



    Edit:
    and btw do they really think that we are able to remember not only freaking viral families, who is ss or ds or segmented, who has envelopes but also remember where did this or that virus get its envelope??
    Last edited: 04.25.12
  32. kaleerkalut

    kaleerkalut

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    I think it is plasma membrane if I remember correctly. I'm fairly positive that it is not the nuclear membrane.
  33. Convalaria

    Convalaria

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    since it is RNA virus?
  34. Phloston

    Phloston SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor

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    I promise you the tree-algorithms from the Microcards make that easy.

    When I see the charts in FA, I literally think, "if I were just trying to memorize this info via these charts, there's no way...thank Gd I've gone through the Microcards."
  35. kaleerkalut

    kaleerkalut

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    No since only herpesviruses bud from nuclear membrane (if my memory serves me correctly).
  36. Convalaria

    Convalaria

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    You're talking about Sanjiv cards, right?
    If only I knew about them when I studied micro first time, that would have made easier the whole process :) but so far, having done maaaany notes on micro section in FA, I like it :)


    thank you!
  37. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

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    Can anyone compare Sanjiv cards to GT?
  38. Kaputt

    Kaputt

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    Microcards are the gold standard in my opinion. The FA chapter is horribly organized for micro. Microcards impose a much-needed framework for study. I used them during micro in school so when I used them for Step 1 study it was returning to a comfortable source. I can't speak for jumping into using them when the heat is on for boards study.
  39. Phloston

    Phloston SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor

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    Absolutely the gold-standard. In terms of GT, I can't relate to that. In terms of Rx, Microcards + FA alone have made micro my strongest (mostly due to the former).
  40. jumpmanv15

    jumpmanv15

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    stickin with Microcards + FA + Uworld! things are slowly starting to come together. it is unfortunately IMO one of those subjects you just gotta hammer in there.
  41. mdeast

    mdeast

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    I personally feel like memorizing the Gram +/- flow charts in First Aid + the salient features of each bug (toxins, special culture conditions, morphology, typical disease associations and epidemiolgoy, etc.) is sufficient. A lot of this you should have picked up gradually (especially epidemiology and disease associations) during your second year. I've only been using First Aid and feel that I've never had a problem looking up answers to anything I got wrong and not finding it in first aid under that bug's description.

    UWorld/QBank are great at pointing out the high yield bugs, typical presentations, and associated high yield facts from each. Know those and I think you'll be pretty good on micro.

    I don't know the Microcards mentioned, but I found the one I bought annoying and overtly detailed. I also personally don't learn well through notecards (more of a table guy myself). So, that could make a difference.
  42. Phloston

    Phloston SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor

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    Absolutely. Know the tree-algorithms COLD.

    (these are the Sanjiv Microcards btw: http://www.shopping.com/Book_Microc...al_Students_Sanjiv_Harpavat_Sahar_Nissim/info)

    I'm posting a link to the second, not third, edition here. I know the third edition just came out, but I can't comment on them, because I've only used the second. However the second edition was phenomenal.
  43. goop

    goop

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    Quick question guys. Do we need to know anything about the RNA viruses beyond what's in FA? For example St. Louis or California encephalitis? Or dengue? Not expanded upon and not touched in UW - I'm just wondering how much we would need to know besides the name association with the virus/class...
  44. AndyRSC

    AndyRSC

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    I believe I've seen dengue in the context of a "break-bone" fever, either on COMLEX or USMLE. All in all, these are low-yield, but if you're going for a high score and want to have all your bases covered, know the basics about them. The encephalitic viruses are difficult to differentiate clinically, so knowing the viral structure and how a viral encephalitis presents in general should be good enough. The viruses with unique characteristic symptoms, such as dengue and yellow virus, and unique endemic areas are probably worth your time.
  45. Convalaria

    Convalaria

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    here's my, please don't throw eggs, I just got tired and it seems that can't think of anything at all..

    vaccines that contain only capsule polysaccharide (not conjugated with toxoid or whatever protein component), they elicit only humoral immunity, right?

    but how polysaccharide, being logically not a protein, elicits immune response? what are the effector cells of this response?

    thanks!
  46. Convalaria

    Convalaria

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  47. IntelInside

    IntelInside

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    So how does CMMRS compare to microcards. I plan on doing GT + one of the 2 previously stated. Which one would be better?
  48. newtonsfriend

    newtonsfriend

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    Are you asking how does a humoral response occur if the vaccine is purely a polysaccharide and not your typical protein? If so, The Bcell receptor can recognize repeating epitopes such as a polysaccharide. This will cross-link a sufficient number of BCRs on a bcell and that coupled with a "fear signal" such as inf-gamma will allow the Bcell to become activated independent of any T cell help. As you probably know T cells recognize proteins. This allows the immune system to get around this obstacle of recognizing an antigen that is not made of protein and it is quicker then waiting for the helper t cell to become activated. Just remember only IgM will be made and there will be no memory cells made in tcell-independent activation because there is no CD40L-CD40 interaction.
  49. Convalaria

    Convalaria

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    great! this is exactly what I wanted to know!
    thank you!

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