About the ads

What books to use during MS1 to help with Step 1 prep?

Discussion in 'Step I' started by authorization66, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. SDN is a nonprofit organization. Services are made possible through the generous support of SDN members and sponsors. Thank you.
  1. authorization66

    authorization66

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2012
    Messages:
    18

    SDN Members don't see this ad. (About Ads)
    MS1 starts soon :eek:

    Historically poor test taker, I want to get on my Step 1 skills early and just be comfortable with that questioning style.

    What can I do during MS1 to help ultimately prep for Step 1s after MS2? What books? What study style?

    Obviously do well in my actual classes but if I can do a lil more that would be good for me, i think. school only gives me 4 weeks to prep for step 1, so...

    help appreciated.

    -auth66
  2. AndyRSC

    AndyRSC

    Joined:
    May 5, 2009
    Messages:
    247
    Location:
    Tampa, FL
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    The best advice you'll get is to study hard throughout the first two years. No program or review book – no matter how clever – can ever supplant this. Master the material the first time around, as your school curriculum introduces it. This will allow you to achieve good grades and board scores (which, depending on the study plan, can be very discordant), as well as prevent you from having to cram in large amounts of material or material you haven't seen before right before boards.

    Purchase the latest edition of First Aid. It's the current gold standard for USMLE preparation. It will give you an outline of what is high-yield for boards – material you should master over the next two years. Many people also choose to annotate their First Aid with pointers, explanations, and aphorisms they come across during their first two years, making it a very complete and personal compendium of their knowledge.

    The only other books I would personally recommend investing in are BRS Physiology and Rapid Review Pathology. There are countless threads here on just about every review book out there, and you'll hear about them nonstop once classes start. Don't invest in too many and research them well; ****ty ones can do more harm than good. A good starting point is this thread, where people share what resources they've used and the results it's gotten them.

    No one can tell you what your study style should be, as long as you don't procrastinate. Having gotten this far, you should have a good idea of where and when you learn best, whether you study best in short bursts or long binges, whether you're more of a visual or a verbal learner, etc. Even if you don't have this ironed out, there will be plenty of time to experiment and get into a groove that's right for you once school starts.

    Two things to think about early on in MS1 are question banks and Gunner Training. The best question bank is USMLEWorld; save it until your second year. Pick a different one to start with, such as Kaplan Qbank or USMLERx. Reinforce what you learn in class with questions to make it stick much better, to see how questions will be asked on boards, and to isolate the weaknesses in your knowledge early on. Gunner Training is another tool that may be beneficial if started early on; read this thread to ascertain if it's right for you.

    Enjoy the rest of your summer and congratulations on starting medical school.
  3. futuredoctor10

    futuredoctor10

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Messages:
    1,610
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    SDN 7+ Year Member
    Congrats on your acceptance to medical school ! The above post is well-written with solid advice. That is interesting that you suggest 1st years start a QBank, like Kaplan or USMLERx. In my honest opinion there is so little MS1 material in the Qbank, it may not be worth getting a year long subscription. However, if you can afford it and feel it is worth it, it can certainly only help to get more practice questions. I never used the PreTest books so I cannot attest to their quality for Step prep -- but I have heard they were helpful for our school exams from friends who used them.

    Additionally, I would second the recommendation to use BRS Physiology with your first year Physio course. You can also buy good anatomy review books for Anatomy, which is something I wish I had done early on in my 1st year to isolate and highlight the "high yield" facts to know.

    Best of luck !
  4. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    Messages:
    895
    Location:
    New York
    Status:
    Medical Student
    I think he meant the qbanks for 2nd year and only possibly using GunnerTraining for 1st year.

    To your anatomy review book point, there really aren't any good anatomy review books. BRS anatomy has good questions but the book is meh. Rapid review anatomy also is pretty blah. The best thing for anatomy review I've heard recommended (for Step 1) is to either get Underground Clinical Vignettes or get a good review book and only use the clinical correlates (RR anatomy, Road Maps (?), or BRS). Anatomy is a very difficult to prepare for because the class is way too detailed, as are the review books, while what you need to know really comes down to clinically relevant info (others have went through blue boxes in Moore's for that). Very important but low yield topic... I did find GunnerTraining's anatom coverage to be very good.
  5. HelpPleaseMD

    HelpPleaseMD

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2011
    Messages:
    688
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    I got both ucv and road map anatomy.I honestly have no idea how road map got rated a B+ while UCV an A. UCV is terrible.
  6. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    Messages:
    895
    Location:
    New York
    Status:
    Medical Student
    I picked it up for $5 on amazon, haven't gone through it yet though. I have RR anatomy and the clinical boxes are probably pretty equivalent to Road Map. I think that's your best bet for Anatomy on Step 1, the actual texts of these anatomy review books are awful.
  7. HelpPleaseMD

    HelpPleaseMD

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2011
    Messages:
    688
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    What I liked about road map is the clinical correlates as you have mentioned and their CTs. They have about 10 or so CTS with the high yield structures pointed out.
  8. Brotato

    Brotato

    Joined:
    May 5, 2012
    Messages:
    194
    I almost bought RR anatomy a while back. Why did you find it 'blah?' Is it not well written?
  9. abcd2

    abcd2

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2012
    Messages:
    5
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    The best way to ensure that you do well on Step 1 is to do well in your classes the first 2 years in medical school as well stated by AndyRSC above. Easier said than done, right? The following methods that I learned helped improve my performance considerably throughout the first 2 years of medical school, but you must find what works for you, and don't get stuck in a rut studying a certain way if it is not working for you.

    1. Go to class. I admit sometimes if the lecturer is especially bad, sometimes it is not worth it - your time is better spent studying, but for the most part you should go to class. You will be surprised what you remember from class.
    2. Buy a review book and read the sections that go along with what you are learning in class. Try not to wait until the last minute to read the review book. If you read it as you are going through the lectures you are more likely to build more concrete memories of both the lectures and the review book content. This way you may have time to re-read the entire book at the end of the semester before you take your final exam (usually the NBME shelf exam for that subject).
    3. Figure out an active way of studying the material (not just passively reading over the transcripts or powerpoint presentations). For me, the best way to do this was review the powerpoints and create my own typed outline of the presentation. When making the outlines I tried to think like the professor would when making the exam, asking myself questions - "what is really important?" and "what kind of questions could I write?"
    4. After each day I would review the presentation and make my outlines. So at the end of the block, instead of needing to review thousands of powerpoint slides I had a reasonable, usually 10-20 pages, of condensed, high-yield material. Especially as the test is approaching, review your outlines (or whatever works best for you) multiple times.
    5. Try to understand the material rather than just memorize it. If there is something on your outline that you don't really understand, do NOT try to just memorize it, go look it up and UNDERSTAND it before moving on. The reason for this is that most questions are going to be 2nd to 3rd order questions, especially on the boards, and straight memorization will not help in taking the additional steps in logic that those question require.
    6. Test yourself by trying to name as many things that you can under one of your outline headings (a disease, drug, bug, etc.) before you look at the points underneath that heading. Try to anticipate the types of questions you will get on the exam.
    7. Get plenty of sleep the night before your tests - you will remember very little and your test-taking skills will be reduced dramatically if you are not well rested.
    When it comes to your future career as a doctor and doing well on all three of the USMLE board exams, some subjects are more important than others. For example, you are much more likely to have to answer questions that test your knowledge of pathology and physiology compared to histology or embryology. I believe that the most important subjects that you need to know to do well on all of the USMLE exams are physiology and pathology. If you know those two well, you will be in great shape for Step 1.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  10. abcd2

    abcd2

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2012
    Messages:
    5
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    Hope this helps. Adapted from a blog post.

    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  11. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    Messages:
    895
    Location:
    New York
    Status:
    Medical Student
    It's fine, just far too detailed to be useful. I think using only clinical boxes and maybe the high yield margin notes could work though. To just read through it would be worthless. GT anatomy, I'm about 100 banked/80 mastery on, is pretty solid for a baseline, then just add clinical info.


    Mostly good advice from above, as for going to class... well, that's a different story.

    Anyway, some comments on these books since I own and have gone through most of them.

    Be very careful thinking: Oh, books like BRS physio are good review books so I should have a review book for every subject. Some of the books aren't very useful. BRS cell bio is almost unusable, the book it's built similarly to: Junquiera Histo, is much better and the BRS version offers nothing special (it's not well written, not well condensed/high-yield, few good figures). You want a review to have some of those elements. Hardly anyone has recommended BRS pharm, the Lange cards are one of two highly recommended sets. Goljan is dying, almost everyone is moving to Pathoma because it's better organized and taught much better. Goljan is great at integration from other disciplines outside of path, but this advantage is waning. Quality resources used together will allow you to integrate, with that said I'll probably use Goljan's high-yield margin notes + figures and maybe a few chapters (e.g. nutritional). RR immuno is almost never recommended, Levinston has a micro/immuno review which is readily considered much better. Quick note on biochem, the RR book is average, it has some great figures but most of the book is not so great. Lippincott's is far superior for during the year studying (yet it's length makes it a reference during Step prep) and even for fleshing out things in First Aid. While I think RR biochem adds a little, it's easily something I could ditch and not feel bad about for a second. The microcards listed above are excellent, I just received those but have yet to work through them.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  12. loveoforganic

    loveoforganic -Account Deactivated-

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Messages:
    4,229
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    I'm not sure I'd call Levinson much of a step review book. It's bigger than RR path
  13. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    Messages:
    895
    Location:
    New York
    Status:
    Medical Student
    Right, the immuno section is what I was referring to. Most have like micro made ridiculously simple for micro, but yeah, Levingston falls into a "lippincott biochem" category.

    When FA is enough is said for a section, I tend to prefer the reference sized review books because you don't sit and read it cover to cover.
  14. abcd2

    abcd2

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2012
    Messages:
    5
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    Yes, YMMV going to class... guess it depends your learning style, where you are, and who is lecturing.

    I guess if you don't go to class you will have more time to study and get through beasts like Lippincott's biochem and Lange micro, but if you don't have much time, they might be hard to read through as they are longer. Also, you are not going to need to know anywhere close to the detail provided in those books for Step 1, although they could help on your exams while you are in those classes. Biochem questions I thought were pretty basic on Step 1 and micro/immuno not much worse.

    If the Lange flashcards are better, than definitely use that... I admit BRS were not very good, I just never used Lange.

    I had never heard of pathoma when I was studying for Step 1 (it was a few years ago), so that very well may be better than RR.

    Good point about not really needing a review book for every subject... I agree that some of those like histology and anatomy are extremely low yield and not that helpful. I would definitely recommend something for path and physio as you will need to know those backwards and forwards.
  15. dragon529

    dragon529 MS-III

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    706
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 7+ Year Member
    How does Levinson's immuno compare with How the Immune System Works by Sompayrac? What's better for 1st time learning vs board studying?
  16. HelpPleaseMD

    HelpPleaseMD

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2011
    Messages:
    688
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    All you need for board studying is in FA
  17. san2

    san2

    Joined:
    May 7, 2012
    Messages:
    199
    Kaplan Medessentials and the latest FA edition. If you have cash to shell out, then see if you can get the kaplan lecture series books and kaplan qbank. if not just get those 2 books, and stick to learning what the class presents to you while looking at these 2 books simultaenously.

    having an early exposure to these 2 books will help a lot when it comes for board studying time
  18. Kaushik

    Kaushik I'm on a horse. Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 10, 2008
    Messages:
    4,106
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 5+ Year Member
    Just a rising M2 here, but I used both those immuno books during our M1 immuno course. The Sompayrac book is absolutely awesome for learning and getting a conceptual understanding of immuno. I used the Levinson review afterward to add in the details (ex. the various cytokines' actions, etc) that Sompayrac didn't cover. I don't know how useful the Sompayrac book will be for Step 1 studying since it emphasizes a conceptual overview rather than detail. I've read good things about the Levinson book for Step 1 review on SDN though.
  19. Gunneria

    Gunneria

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2010
    Messages:
    244
    i would use How the Immune System Works FOR sure (read it cover to cover during spring break-in say 2-3 days short read prior to starting micro and immuno, assuming thats 1 block for you) and heres how I would use Levinson:
    -solely for immuno even over lecture notes since its THAT amazing of a book (just annotate....there will be details to fill from lecture MAYBE)- its only 90 pages so think about that micro and immuno final when u decide to read notes vs. levinson; moreover read former threads, this is the NUMBER 1 immuno source for boards hands down

    -prior to micro, I HIGHLY recommend reading the first 80 pages of levinson because its a nice broad overview of what micro is all about (the pathogenesis and integration with immunology), trust me it makes micro SO much more in context unless ur profs do a great job constantly integrating micro and immuno

    The point of why I mention such specifics is so you can build a conceptual, highly efficient (first 80 pages levinson + how the immune system works) conceptual framework of micro and immuno before having it just be a memorizefest once classes start
  20. dragon529

    dragon529 MS-III

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    706
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 7+ Year Member
    @Gunneria,
    Thanks for the tip. So basically read How Immune System works and 90 pgs from Levinson before classes start and just use it along with lectures/exams. Just curious, did you end up reading all 700pgs of levinson?
  21. newdoc2013

    newdoc2013

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2009
    Messages:
    157
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    SDN 5+ Year Member
    pharm cards, goljan pathology, first aid, micro bio made redic --> the quadfecta.
  22. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    Messages:
    895
    Location:
    New York
    Status:
    Medical Student
    Pathoma > Goljan.
  23. Gunneria

    Gunneria

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2010
    Messages:
    244
    yeah, I read all of Levinson, used microcards, and CMMRs...my conclusion about what I really need to learn from micro and exams just ended up 1 solution that encompassed everything I need to know for classes and exams and step 1:

    Gunner Training + the pictures only in CMMRs = dont even waste your time on anything extra because not worth it

    CMMRs is too superficial, all its good for is the pics but its hard to internalize stuff that is not in the pics.
  24. dragon529

    dragon529 MS-III

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    706
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 7+ Year Member
    micro cards weren't helpful? I got them and CMMR for the upcoming year. You think GT trumps them facts wise and just mix in figures from CMMR?
  25. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    Messages:
    895
    Location:
    New York
    Status:
    Medical Student
    I think it would be inaccurate to say GT trumps the microcards. It's more accurate to say either will be more than enough for Step 1 micro. In fact, I would estimate most use only First Aid for micro, which again is like more than enough alongside qbanks.

    While it is true there are preferred resources, you'll soon learn there are no best resources. The student + the amount of questions done matters much more than the resource.
  26. MrBeauregard

    MrBeauregard Soon-to-be PGY-1

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    Messages:
    623
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 5+ Year Member
    No sir.
  27. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    Messages:
    895
    Location:
    New York
    Status:
    Medical Student
    lol. Fine.
  28. wastedyouth

    wastedyouth

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Quick question. I got a 2011 First Aid edition. Is it worth waiting for 2013 or should I switch to 2012 now and memorize it well for the next year?
  29. dragon529

    dragon529 MS-III

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    706
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 7+ Year Member
    @wastedyouth, I think you should stick with 2011 then get 2013 when it's out.

    However... I don't have FA right now and I'm indecisive to get the 2011 or 2012 edition for the rest of this year before 2013 is out. I know the 2012 is colored but there also seems to be lots of errors. Anyone wanna chime in on this matter? >.>
  30. loveoforganic

    loveoforganic -Account Deactivated-

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Messages:
    4,229
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    I just had to make this decision. 2011 was tough to find new at a good price, so I got 2012. I just started annotating in the errata corrections (it's like 17 pages... which is frankly ridiculous, but I figure just get it over with and it should be no issue from there on)
  31. wastedyouth

    wastedyouth

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    thank you both very much!!
  32. dragon529

    dragon529 MS-III

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    706
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 7+ Year Member
    @LOL, sounds like I'll be following you in that regards then...

Share This Page


About the ads