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10,000 Questions = 230?

Discussion in 'Step I' started by esposo, Apr 19, 2007.

  1. esposo

    esposo Member
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    I have a little over 8 weeks before my exam and I feel there is no point reading tons of review books. I feel I learn more by doing questions and looking up the wrong answers than reading books. However, when I read other threads about people saying they aren't benefitting from doing questions, I'm utterly perplexed. They must have a completely different style of learning from myself because I can't see how if one does close to 10,000 questions how he or she wouldn't excel on this test.

    My strategy is to master First Aid and then do Q-bank, USMLE Rx, Robbins and other sources. I feel like reading is a waste of time because unless you master the context of how a question is phrased with the distractors, you aren't going to really learn anything. I feel the explanations often do a better job explaining the material than the review books. Something can be taught straightforward in a review book but unless you see how that information is presented or disguised in a question, you will not answer that question correctly on an exam.

    Am I alone in adopting this strategy? Surely there has to be other med students that are taking this approach versus reading all the BRS, High Yield and Kaplan books?
     
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  3. Roy7

    Roy7 Senior Member
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    I'm a big advocate of the "it works different for everyone" approach. So far doing gobs of questions isnt working for me because I cant retain my understanding of answer choices for long periods of time after doing a question once. That being said it's also rare for me to find questions where I wouldnt have answered it correctly even if I knew the material. So, reading up on more varied material with more detail helps me a lot (so, I've added in more review time).

    I'd say a good 80 percent of the questions I get wrong are simply wrong because I need to review that subject more not because of the way they throw it at me.

    But dont get me wrong - I'm not stopping questions - just for me, reviewing the subject matter the first time completely and repeatedly (from a review book), helps me get the material better than reving the 5 paragraphs in the explanation of a question. I plan on completing USMLE world (twice hopefully), Qbank, Robbins review, and Pretest physio.
     
  4. SeventhSon

    SeventhSon SIMMER DOWN
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    i came up with kind of a "theory" whlie I studied for the MCAT.

    The reading you do sets the "ceiling" for what your maximum possible score is, because that ultimately ends up determining the raw amount of knowledge that you know. The 2 years going up to the test are probably much more important than the review, because if you don't learn a concept the first time you can't really review it.

    Practice problems help you come up with an algorithm for how you go about applying your knowledge. Regardless of how much you know, that can have a large impact on your performance.

    When I took a practice MCAT completely cold 2 months before the test, I got a 7 on BS and a 9 on PS. I started studying 3 weeks before the test, and ended up getting a 15 on PS. Did my knowledge of chemistry/physics go up that much in 3 weeks? No, but my knowledge base was completely there, and I had to familiarize myself with the type of questions I would be answering, and the passage format, in order to answer those questions well.

    Of course, the caveat emptor is that the MCAT has a much smaller scope than step1. What's my point? Review books probably won't help much unless you learned the concept cold the first time. Practice questions will help you realize your ceiling, based on what you learned the first 2 years.
     
  5. HamOnWholeWheat

    HamOnWholeWheat Senior Member
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    That's a really good way to think of it. I will add one point though, in that I think you have to review the material formally to put it all together and remind yourself that you do actually know it. For example, renal pathophys is a very complicated subject. When I went over it in medical school, I felt 100% comfortable with virtually every aspect and did great on the exams. For boards a few months later, I had a good general idea of how it all fit together, but I needed a concise quick review to fill in all the gaps. For me, that's much better suited to reading a quick review book or old notes, rather than answering a bunch of questions. Questions I found were really piecemean, and never really put it all together for me again the way a review book would.

    Again, this is all dependent on how well you learned it the first time, as the above poster stated.

    HamOn
     
  6. Anka

    Anka Senior Member
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    I'm built pretty much the same way. At first I went with what everyone else was doing (bought Kaplan, and read through a decent chunk of it), but what really wound up working for me was the last three weeks sitting there with First Aid, doing fifty questions from QBank, then going through every single explanation and looking at it in First Aid at the same time. Anything I was really weak in, I'd look up in a real book. I learn a lot from questions, too -- and you really do already have the basic information in your head somewhere. I'm taking the test tomorrow :)luck:) so I can't tell you how it worked out, but I was doing very well on the diagnostics.

    Best,
    Anka
     
  7. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    I also recommend doing a lot of questions. Someone on SDN recommended I do tons of questions and this person scored over a 250 on Step I. That strategy paid off for me as well because I ended up scoring 240. There is no one right method to study. I think it was wise of you to recognize how you learn and process information. For some people, they learn more by doing questions and looking up the wrong answers. I certainly learned more by doing questions. It didn't matter if I got the question wrong, looking up the answers and reading the explanations taught me more than reading a passage in a BRS book. And in my experience, I learned it didn't matter how well you understood something, if the question was asked in a certain way you could still miss it.

    Questions forced me to approach information from different perspectives which made it easier for me to retain information whereas reading a textbook only provides the information in a very straightforward manner which didn't enable me to retain the information. You might understand information the way a textbook presents it but you may not understand the information in the form of a question. For example, renal physiology seems fairly straightforward when you read it in Costanzo but try doing some challenging renal questions in the BSS or Q-bank and it seems like an entirely different subject. If you don't do plenty of questions, it doesn't matter how well you think you understand renal physiology, you could still be tripped up if a question is written in a particular way. That's why questions give one exposure to strategy as much as it does teaching concepts.

    I responded to this thread because I know others are identifying with the OP. For those individuals, I suggest spending 90% of your time doing questions and 10% of your time reading First Aid and verifying your answers in First Aid. I was also worried because my friends had read all the BRS, the Kaplan Lecture Notes and High Yield. I tried that method and I wasn't retaining anything. When I switched to doing questions, everything started to make more sense. I know that First Aid might seem shallow but it's written that way for a reason. You only have 2 months to prepare for this exam so you need a practical and realistic source you can turn to. If you had 6-8 months to prepare then maybe you can read all the BRS and High Yield books.
     
  8. Long Dong

    Long Dong My middle name is Duc.
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    Daelroy is right on the money. It can be done. I did ~11,000 questions and got the same score as hamonwholewheat (just a little shy of 260).

    BTW what have u been up to hamon? Last I remember research, right? Must be going into something ubercompetitive?
     
  9. Blue Scrub

    Blue Scrub The Gift & The Curse
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    I like the idea of doing a ton of questions... that is what I am trying to do right now while studying for my upcoming Step 1.... what is bothering me though is that, after taking a block of 50 questions, going over the answers and really understanding the concepts takes me a LOOONNG time, like 2-3 hours (reading the explanations to questions I got wrong, then annotating in FA, and briefly skimming questions I got right).... all in all, the whole process of doing a 50 question block is taking like 3-4 hours to do... is this normal? I've seen people on here say doing like 200 questions and going over answers takes them like 7 hours, but that seems hard to fathom for me right now
     
  10. lord_jeebus

    lord_jeebus 和魂洋才
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    I think that if it takes you that long to do questions, you need a signficant content review element in your studying. Otherwise you'll never sufficiently review the breadth of knowledge that this exam covers.

    I think that time spent doing questions is very valuable, but reading over all the answer explanations is slow and low yield compared to reading other things. So I omitted the latter from my study plan, except reading about why I got particular things wrong.
     
  11. Long Dong

    Long Dong My middle name is Duc.
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    :thumbup:
     
  12. lord_jeebus

    lord_jeebus 和魂洋才
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    Oh and annotating First Aid is probably wasting your time.

    You should be able to explain why you got any question wrong in 10 words or less. Write that reason down, quickly, and move on. Just use a blank piece of paper; hunting through First Aid for the proper category is a huge waste of time.
     
  13. Roy7

    Roy7 Senior Member
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    I havent taken the test yet, so my opinion probalby isnt all that valuable, but I learn a lot more when I read associated sections of first aid when doing a question that way I reinforce previously learned material (notes written in before), and make sur eI know first aid cold. But it does slow me down, but i've got my book cut and in a binder so it flips fast.
     
  14. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    This is great advice. Annotating First Aid is a complete waste of time. Most of First Aid is self-explanatory. If there is something you don't understand, look it up in the BRS books and then move on. Don't waste hours writing in First Aid. It's better to spend that time memorizing it and then doing questions. I only used First Aid and BRS Path as my sources and did lots of questions. You just don't have time to read all these texts that people suggest unless you started 6 months in advance.

    In regards to my pace, I was doing about 20 questions per hour. During crunch time, I was devoting 10 hours a day just to doing questions and then another 4-5 with memorizing First Aid. Again, it paid off for me but it may not be great for everyone. I know there are others who did this method because they inspired me to take this plan of action. I wish more of them would respond.
     
  15. Teejay

    Teejay Team Player
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    You should consider using Uworld if that is what you really wanna do. The simplicity, clinical correlation and clearity of their explanations is better than what most texbooks will offer.
     
  16. esposo

    esposo Member
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    Pardon my ignorance but what is Uworld? Also, longdong, I noticed you read books too. You didn't just do questions and first aid.

    Is there anyone who truly just did a ton of questions and relied on First Aid?

    Also, I'm not shooting for a 230. I just said 230 because I knew that would attract people to respond. To be honest, I want to be realistic and aim for 210. Do you think this score is realistic by just doing a lot of questions.

    I know there is no way I can get a 230 by just doing a lot of questions because you have to really understand the material to get 230+ but I do think it may be possible to get 210 by using this method.
     
  17. Blue Scrub

    Blue Scrub The Gift & The Curse
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    This all sounds like a great method, thanks Daelroy and Lord! So I'm going to stick to just memorizing FA without annotating it, using BRS Path and BRS Phys if I dont understand a concept, and just doing tons of questions, and reading answers only to the ones I got wrong, and jotting down a sentence or two about why I got it wrong.
     
  18. drguy22

    drguy22 1K Member
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    hmmm..this method sounds familiar....lol:laugh:
     
  19. Blue Scrub

    Blue Scrub The Gift & The Curse
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    haha I know :D
     
  20. fatsal

    fatsal Junior Member
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    I have to humbly disagree with this post. There is no way anyone can just get by with doing questions even if you did 20K. There is no gimic or easy solution. you wont find one member on SDN who did well on step 1 by just doing questions. Even the people who did questions, also read review books and knew their material well. Take a balanced approach but don't just do 10K questions. You may not even pass the exam if you take that approach.
     
  21. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    There is a way because I was one of those people who just did close to 11,000 questions and First Aid and scored a 240. It's very possible
     
  22. fatsal

    fatsal Junior Member
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    I think your method is at least somewhat plausible. Doing questions is far more productive than reading a hundred review books. I too would encourage people to take a more balanced approach but if I had to choose between two extremes, I think your approach will help students more than the "reading every review book known to man" approach.
     
  23. HMSSurgeon

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    I did betwen 11-12K or was it 8-9K questions, bahh I don't remember, I just know it was a lot of questions. I did fairly well 255 (99) so it can be done. I'm an active learner so this method really worked well for me. I would get so bored reading for hours that I would begin to zone out. Some people can read 50 pages and retain everything while I would learn more from answering a question wrong and then looking up the distractors. I definitly spent a lot of time preparing for this exam. It takes up a considerable amount of time reading explanations. This was my form of board review. I do think people are under the wrong impression that questions are only used to reinforce what you already know. I learned concepts by doing questions and often found that explanations provided information that was missing in most board review books.
     
  24. esposo

    esposo Member
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    I guess what I'm asking is did anyone just focus primarily on doing questions?
     
  25. Idiopathic

    Idiopathic Newly Minted
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    I may have pioneered it, actually. I did about 12000 questions, started in late January, and started reviewing course materials in mid-May. Scored fairly well.
     
  26. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    Actually, you were the person I was referring to in regards to being advised to do many questions. You don't remember me but you PM'd with this advice. I was going to PM you and thank you but I saw your reply and wanted to give your props out in the open. Thank you my friend.
     
  27. HamOnWholeWheat

    HamOnWholeWheat Senior Member
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    Long Dong,

    Yeah I've been hittin the research thing for the past two years and will be re-entering medschool (3rd year) this year. I've been doing the aerospace medicine research thing, so I'm hoping to pipeline into something with NASA eventually. I'm not sure if the track I'm taking is all that competitive, but its not really a residency so its hard to say.

    What did you end up matching into? Derm? Plastics? Something where you'll be surrounded by hot chicks all the time? :thumbup:

    HamOn
     
  28. Acherona

    Acherona Senior Member
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    How do you get to 12,000 without repeating questions? There are only about 2000 in each qbank. I guess if you add all the books and NBMEs?
     
  29. Villin

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    10,000 ?s = :sleep:

    Good luck on your step 1.
     
  30. HMSSurgeon

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    If takes you 3-4 hours to do 50 questions then you have to accept that and just put in the additional time. If you are using questions to learn then 3-4 hours sounds about right. People who are covering 200 questions in 7 hours are those use questions as a form of review. They already know the material; they just want to test themselves. That's a lot different that learning the material the first time through the use of questions which is what I did. If it takes you 10 hours a day to get through 200 questions then you will just have to put in that time. If you are able to get through 10,000 or so questions, you will be very well prepared for this exam. I have yet to hear from anyone who claimed to do that many questions and not experience success.
     
  31. coredump

    coredump Member
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    For those that did 8-12K questions (HMSSurgeon, Idiopathic, Longdong,..) ... which question sources did you find most helpful in actually learning from, not just reviewing?

    Also, when did you start doing questions? How many questions/day were you able to manage? It seems like a pretty formidable task to do that many questions in 4-6 weeks!

    I'm also planning on doing a 'question-heavy' board prep, but just looking for advice on how to structure it..
     
  32. Idiopathic

    Idiopathic Newly Minted
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    Question sources ranked!! ;) (as I fight to avoid writing notes post-call)

    1. Robbins Review Pathology (1100 q's)
    2. Goljan Rapid Review USMLE (1000 q's)
    3. Board Simulator Series (~3000 q's)
    4. Kaplan QBank (~3500 q's)
    5. Appleton and Lange Review (1000 q's)
    6. others...BRS, NME, Boards and Wards
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    500. USMLEasy

    edit: NBME asessments also very valuable, probably tops for self-evaluation, but not good for 'learning'
     
  33. Long Dong

    Long Dong My middle name is Duc.
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    Yes he did, thanks for the 411.:thumbup:

    Yes derm, and yes I've noticed derm has the hottest residents.

    2 years research:eek:
    You sure your not going for a PhD with that? Dr. HamOnWholeWheat in outerspace.:horns:
     
  34. goodies

    goodies Member
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    has anyone ever done 10,000 questions and did just mediocre on step 1? :( im scared that doing all these questions and getting them all wrong.. and trying to memorize the concepts from all of these questions will result in a mediocre score cuz i didn't read through all of those kaplan/hy books for the big picture. experts, what do you think?
     
  35. HMSSurgeon

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    The fact that no one replied to your query should be your answer. It's pretty inconceivable that one could do so many questions and fail to do well. Sure, one might not score 250 but scoring over 220 is fairly reasonable with this strategy. Again, if you are an active learner then I would highly recommend this approach. Most medical students learn passively and this endeavor might be fruitless to those individuals who can read a 200 page review book and retain everything. But for the minority of active learners who need to do questions, notecards and other active forms of recall, this technique will serve you far more than passively reading 2000 pages of review books.
     
  36. HMSSurgeon

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    USMLE World was by far the best source and Q-Bank is still up there!
     
  37. stang

    stang Member
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    Are these pretty much the sources everyone else used (plus UWorld) for their questions? Also, is it worth it go through qbank/UW a second time, redoing questions you got wrong or would it be better to just move on to other question sources? Thanks.
     
  38. Idiopathic

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    When I took this three years ago, USMLEWorld was not available, or it would certainly be higher, since its pretty much all i used for Step 2 and 3.

    I feel like old questions can reinforce topics, but if you cant get the answer quickly, explain the topic and discuss why the wrong answers are wrong, you really should do new questions over old ones.
     
  39. goodies

    goodies Member
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    so you're saying that no review of BRS path, BRS or Kaplan physio, or memorizing FA is necessary before getting to the questions? i've done like a thousand UW questions and am scoring in the high 50's... which makes me worried. it makes me question whether or not i know anything, so i decided to re-hit the review books... but you would highly recommend that i keep pushing through those questions? i can only get through 150 questions per day because reviewing the answers takes forever. i don't know if that's normal. i have a 4-5wks left till step1 and NEED to do well and make the most out of the time left.
     
  40. goodies

    goodies Member
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    another question... how do you get through so many questions so quickly?! when doing these questions, do you guys just memorize the concept/facts right there and then? i think i take forever because i take a lot of notes (not copying directly) when i read the explanations, like half a page's worth per question. and sometimes, i jot it into my FA... takes forever too. tell me how you guys are so fast! :p
     
  41. SeventhSon

    SeventhSon SIMMER DOWN
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    the answer is easy... the amount of time people dedicate to reading those explanations is variable.
     
  42. domer621

    domer621 MS4
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    That sounds overkill unless you're planning on publishing a book.
     
  43. WhoisJohnGalt

    WhoisJohnGalt NYC Psychiatrist
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    I think this is really a waste of your time. The vast majority of the time, if you get a question wrong, it's because you didn't know one sentence (e.g. "Hemmorhagic cystitis is a common toxicity of cyclophosphamide that can be prevented with Mesna.") There's no reason to write a novel about its MOA, indications, contraindications, etc.; the explanation given in the QBank is going to be much lengthier than that one sentence, but the core of what you should have known to get the question right is there. If you're doing 10,000 questions, you can be pretty sure some other question in some other qbank is going to ask you about anything else you need to know on the subject.

    If you're spending tons of time writing half pages about each question, you're doing even worse than the people that just use review books because at least they don't take the time to WRITE the books before they read them.
     
  44. ginger60

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    I agree with not writing so much. I wrote too much and when I went back to review I couldn't even read through it all, making all of my writing a complete waste of time. Remember, FA is supposed to be high yield--if you are going through questions and didn't know why an answer was right or wrong until you read the explanation, its okay to write a fact or two in FA that you can quickly glance at to remind yourself about it later, but remember that you are going to have to read whatever you write down later and so you want to keep it high yield.
     
  45. Idiopathic

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    dont write anything...
     
  46. HMSSurgeon

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    Fellow [Any Field]
    I used to remember it because when I get something wrong it helps me remember something more than just reading something in a review book. I know BRS makes flashcards. Sometimes flashcards are better than books because you still learn in active process. Their flashcards were very reasonable and didn't have a lot of minutae per card so they were definitely memorizable. You could probably cram and get through all the BRS flashcards in a week. That would give you some background before you hit the questions. High 50's on UWorld is pretty good if I recall because the questions were far more difficult than the real thing.

    Don't take notes. That is highly counterproductive and you will waste your time. Try to go for understanding when reading the explanations.
     

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