username456789

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This might be a dumb thread, but I wanted to get a clear idea of what exactly you guys are doing and how you've shifted your studying specifically (or are planning to if you haven't yet) with regard to your class material. I'm a little less than 3 months out from the exam. Obviously abandoning the material entirely isn't possible since this stuff is still highly tested on boards (we have renal/repro/msk/skin path still....) but I want to make sure I'm:

A) learning what I need to in these subjects for boards moreso than minutiae for in house exams
B) continuing to go over past material (I'm trying the whole Taus thing)

My dilemma, I guess, is not being 100% comfortable knowing how to approach things to make sure I really am learning the material that's still being presented, but focusing on what's important for Step I.

I know some of you are basically just reading the corresponding parts of Goljan . . . is that working out well? Some parts of the book really don't make a lot of sense until I do hammer all the class notes (including the minutiae just out of habit), so I'm not sure how successful that'd be.

Lots of people say things like "I spend the first semester of M2 focusing on classes, and then the second semester focusing on boards and not worrying about class so much." I realize this is going to vary from person to person, but I'm curious to know what your studying regime consists of now vs. before you started to really get focused on Step I.
 

DrVanNostran

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My basic plan of attack:

8 hours of class
4 hours of boards
 

MilkmanAl

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I think we've discussed this before, but I'm probably on the fairly extreme end of the class abandoners. I never go to class, and I haven't so much as glanced at a path lecture this semester. My grades have dropped a little from low B-ish to mid/high C, but I'm also putting in a lot more effort now than I was during the first semester. It's much easier for me to motivate myself if I know I'm not spending my time on worthless details.

What I've been doing is spending the first 1-3 days (depending on the length of the unit) going through old stuff in FA, where "old" generally means M1 info or things from the very beginning of M2, and doing the appropriate practice questions in Rx. After that, I switch to the system we're doing in class and hammer it until test time, using Rx and WebPath all the way through. I usually do part of the Robbins Review section, too, once I feel like I know everything pretty well.

Taking tests is always a bit interesting since I've generally nailed down the big, important ideas and will have no idea about the small stuff. That results in a really fast test since I'll either know a question or be clueless and guess (in an educated fashion, if I'm lucky). I'm not entirely satisfied with my practice test performance so far (low 60's in Rx and a few points above national average on the NBME basic sciences thingy), but I definitely feel like this method will give me a huge boost when it comes time to really buckle down. The systems I've gone back and reviewed stuck with me quite well, so hopefully I'll be able to build substantially on that foundation once school goes away.
 

username456789

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I think we've discussed this before, but I'm probably on the fairly extreme end of the class abandoners.

Haha, I'd be lying if I didn't say you were who I had in mind when I was thinking about people jumping ship. I seem to remember you saying you use RR Path mostly as your "notes" now?

We only have two exams left in the year. This block consists of four exams, and I spanked the first two, so really I've built in a nice cushion (as long as I pass the last two, since apparently failing any of the 4 exams in this last block constitute failure for the entire block, even with 100's on the other 3).

It's mostly a mental block in my case. Even though I know it'd pay off in the end, I still have the fear of walking into one of our exams feeling like I'm not as prepared as I could be.
 

illixir

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For my last two months of M2, I pretty much just abandoned spending time on school-related stuff. I still went to our morning lectures/small group, I just didn't spend any time studying it on my own(outside of maybe the couple hours a week for assignment/smallgroup purposes); instead I started studying everything for boards/questions, etc. starting with path. We still had the finals over the last three months of material so I went back and focused on that for 2 days right before. It worked out fine.
 
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I'm an MSI and I've pretty much already abandoned class noted for board studying. Our syllabus is terrible.
 

prionsRbad

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I'm an MSI and I've pretty much already abandoned class noted for board studying. Our syllabus is terrible.
Beware of burnout!

You don't need to worry about boards during your 1st year. You'll just forget everything anyway! :eek:
 

Cooolguy

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I'm an MSI and I've pretty much already abandoned class noted for board studying. Our syllabus is terrible.
haha this is hilarious. What could you be studying for boards as an MSI? Biochem or anatomy...
 

username456789

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haha this is hilarious. What could you be studying for boards as an MSI? Biochem or anatomy...

Agreed. To be fair, Physiology is probably the highest yield "boards" subject in M1, but the farthest I'd go with that is to follow along in BRS and just make sure your school isn't skipping anything.

I'm going back through BRS Cardio right now (after really not using it all and just focusing on learning the stuff in class) and it's all coming back so easily since I learned it fully the first time through. But as good as this book is, I'm not sure I would've really LEARNED everything by using it as my main study tool.
 

Sol Rosenberg

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I've cut back pretty significantly. I've been frustrated my M2 year that no matter how hard I studied, I couldn't crack the "A" barrier. Since January, I've spent about equal time studying for classes and boards (however, I always studied FA, and Taus sources for the current block of classes at the same time as I was studying for classes, and I counted that as studying for boards) with no effect on my final grades during that time period.

I've gotten even more aggressive lately: Spending more time on board prep than classes. I just took my first test under this studying regimen last week. It's going to be close (i.e. keeping the same grade) but I think I pulled it off. I'll see on Monday :)
 

VoiceofReason

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haha this is hilarious. What could you be studying for boards as an MSI? Biochem or anatomy...
uh the same reasoning regarding abandoning in house crap applies to any class in medical school, even MS1.

I personally started on day 1 when i realized i could go to a nice gold standard textbook on a subject, read it, do the corresponding board questions, and still high pass a given class.

Studying from class notes or a class syllabus is a serious gamble imo when it comes to really understanding a subject. Just man up and read it from a textbook, the USMLE rewards this approach imo because you will understand the material better.
 

username456789

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uh the same reasoning regarding abandoning in house crap applies to any class in medical school, even MS1.

I personally started on day 1 when i realized i could go to a nice gold standard textbook on a subject, read it, do the corresponding board questions, and still high pass a given class.

Studying from class notes or a class syllabus is a serious gamble imo when it comes to really understanding a subject. Just man up and read it from a textbook, the USMLE rewards this approach imo because you will understand the material better.


Depends on the method. I've seen some people's approach it as "I'll just read BRS Phys and memorize First Aid for that topic and be good to go." I'd think it'd be difficult to really learn the material that way.

But there's certainly nothing wrong with actually following an actual text, if that's your thing. I'd have trouble just reading something without actively taking a lot of notes. Fortunately the majority of our class notes handed out are quite good, and walk the line between "full text discussion" and "bulleted review" (I realize that's a very broad line, but they usually do a good job of finding a good balance).
 
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username456789

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[I'm full of dumb questions lately]

When you guys use RR Path/FA to study something (whether it's studying whatever system you're currently learning in class, or whether it's trying to go back through a previous system from earlier in the year), are you guys taking notes down or just mostly reading?

I've always been an "I have to write it out or I won't retain it" kind of learner, and it's kind of annoying, since I can't realistically expect to completely transcribe First Aid (let alone RR Path . . . )

I'd like to think that at least for the stuff I've already learned/been tested on, just reading through RR/FA should be sufficient. But I guess my fear is not learning the stuff that we're still doing in class, or at least not learning it well enough. When we have an entire lecture devoted to something that gets less than a page in RR Path, it makes me wonder what I should really be doing with my time . . .
 

MilkmanAl

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I just read. I find that a read-through followed by practice questions (which I usually bomb) is a very effective way to focus my reading the next time I go through. I used to do the transcribing thing, but it's just not an efficient method, in my opinion, regardless of how well it works for you. That goes double for Step 1 studying, as should be pretty obvious.
 

MilkmanAl

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Bump for a bit of an update.

UAMS's crappy path program is owning me. I'm mostly good on all the stuff we did this semester (i.e., stuff we did since I started totally ignoring class), but anything with cardio, pulmonary, hem/onc, or neuro is just killing me. I'm consistently hitting in the high 40's to mid 50's on UWorld questions, and that is plain not cool.

In case that wasn't clear, I'm really glad I decided to give a giant middle finger to class, even though it's almost certainly going to mean eating a C in path. (Class went on just long enough for my B's to slide down to borderline in most classes. :annoyed:) It's amazing how much better I know the material I studied on my own. I realize that some of the disparity is due to how long it has been since I studied any of the stuff from the beginning of the year, but it's usually not a "man, I can't remember this" problem; it's a "I know for a fact we never learned this" problem. Too many researchers spoil the med student, I guess.
 

username456789

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Bump for a bit of an update.

UAMS's crappy path program is owning me. I'm mostly good on all the stuff we did this semester (i.e., stuff we did since I started totally ignoring class), but anything with cardio, pulmonary, hem/onc, or neuro is just killing me. I'm consistently hitting in the high 40's to mid 50's on UWorld questions, and that is plain not cool.

In case that wasn't clear, I'm really glad I decided to give a giant middle finger to class, even though it's almost certainly going to mean eating a C in path. (Class went on just long enough for my B's to slide down to borderline in most classes. :annoyed:) It's amazing how much better I know the material I studied on my own. I realize that some of the disparity is due to how long it has been since I studied any of the stuff from the beginning of the year, but it's usually not a "man, I can't remember this" problem; it's a "I know for a fact we never learned this" problem. Too many researchers spoil the med student, I guess.


I'm like that with some subjects. Cancer and Hematology, for instance. Our Pulm and Cardio sections were really well taught, I thought, and at least for Pulm that seems to be reflected in my QBank scores.

For this last block I've mostly just been studying from RR Path. I've done well enough so far in this class that I could bomb the exam and still end up with a B I think.

And there are DEFINITELY a lot of times when I come across something that I know for a fact we never learned. I'm sure that happens with most schools.
 

MilkmanAl

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I forgot to mention that UAMS's supposedly crappy pharm program did not own me at all. In fact, I think I pretty well killed the NBME and cruised through UWorld with a respectable (in my opinion, for 8 weeks from test time) 60-65% range, for the most part.
 

MilkmanAl

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The more of Goljan I read, the more I wish I'd been ignoring class all year long. I'm going to end up with a C in path anyway (Boooooooooo! :mad:), so it would've been really nice to keep the same grade but learn the material properly.
 

username456789

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I'll tell you what, it doesn't fell all that much better to do well in class, but feel like you're being lulled into a false sense of security. Granted, I've realized some of the blocks at my school were taught pretty well (based on what I seem to understand/recall when I go back through Goljan/FA and when I do questions), but then you have a couple subjects I "did well" in that I feel like I might as well be starting from scratch since the focus just wasn't where it should be (or important connections were absent from the lectures on these subjects).

My biggest thing is trying not to worry about what I should've already done (believe me, I could make a looong list of "regrets" and things I wish I would've started doing sooner or done more often, like qbank questions). It's easy to get caught up in that, but eventually you realize that it's out of your hands and you can only aim to maximize the use of the time ahead of you.
 

MilkmanAl

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I'm not really worried about the grade itself - more that class lasted juuuust long enough for me to slide down to about a 78, and since our final is bafflingly only worth 10% of our grade, it's basically impossible for me to get back those magical 2-ish points. If the low value of the NBME doesn't indicate how bad our path program sucks, I don't know what will.

Anyway, I'm obviously forging ahead just fine. Screw class, and screw worrying about not doing everything perfectly. Hindsight is 20/20, but at least I jumped ship in time to get my act together. I'm also fortunate to have beaten myself down enough that I think I'll be okay with regard to burning out, very much unlike one of my roommates who kicked butt the first two years all the way up until the 3rd to last test or so. He hasn't done crap since and has done pretty poorly on the shelf exams. I'm glad that's not me.