Scrubs101

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Hey SDN, hope all is going well. I'm nearing the end of my anatomy class and I was just working out my budget for the fall semester and seeing what materials i should invest in.

So far I've found after I go through my instructors material and flashcard it all that the most useful thing to do is grind out as many clinically related questions as possible (along with as much open lab time as possible as well). That's been working quite well for me so far, i do worry slightly that my checklist of what I like to get done before an exam won't survive come the fall when things turn up a couple notches.

I've had no problem acquiring tons of practice questions so far (BRS, greys for students, school provided q's, etc), and just want to make sure I have a plethora of practice Q's available in the future as well as having high yield/board related Q's.

So essentially I'm between USMLE-Rx and Kaplan q-bank(my school provides this for us starting in the fall i believe). So it would be financially wise of me to just use kaplan q-bank first and Rx in second year, but my issue with that is the mixed reviews ive heard about both q banks. Some saying to save kaplan for december/jan of second year (before uworld). Some say Rx is best to use along with classes. Some say rx=kaplan essentially. I'm sure it's based a lot on personal opinion and how the school teaches the material, but i just wanted to compile some more specific opinions on the matter.

My school does all basic sciences in the fall followed by systems courses. I already plan on getting FC and FA(for obvious reasons).

Your help and opinions would be greatly appreciated!

All the best,

Scrubs101


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Drrrrrr. Celty

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When do you start systems? I would buy a Q-bank then. RX in my opinion is a good resource. I never used Kaplan.
 
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Scrubs101

Scrubs101

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When do you start systems? I would buy a Q-bank then. RX in my opinion is a good resource. I never used Kaplan.
I start systems in the spring! Excuse my ignorance but do the "big name" Q-banks not have basic science sections?


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wdoc

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They do have basic science sections but they are not typically written as just a "basic science" question. Usually you'd have a biochemistry question written in the context of a system like hematology (example: lead poisoning causing microcytic anemia, and knowing which enzymes are inhibited by lead). I would say to use USMLE Rx to supplement your learning of systems. Some people I know would aim to have the specific systems questions done by the time they finished the class (~200 questions probably). I thought this was a bit excessive and didn't seriously start using Q banks until around Thanksgiving break but to each his own.
 
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Scrubs101

Scrubs101

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They do have basic science sections but they are not typically written as just a "basic science" question. Usually you'd have a biochemistry question written in the context of a system like hematology (example: lead poisoning causing microcytic anemia, and knowing which enzymes are inhibited by lead). I would say to use USMLE Rx to supplement your learning of systems. Some people I know would aim to have the specific systems questions done by the time they finished the class (~200 questions probably). I thought this was a bit excessive and didn't seriously start using Q banks until around Thanksgiving break but to each his own.
Ahhhh i see what you mean, okay I'll hold off on an Rx subscription until spring then. Thank you! By any chance do you have any suggestions for sources with good practice questions for just basic sciences? I imagine i can continue to use BRS for this, just curious if there's anything else out there.


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Drrrrrr. Celty

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Basically what wdoc said. These Q-banks are designed for studying for USMLE, not your medical school classes. As such the emphasis is going to be predominantly through the context of pathology and systems and as such a question that may test your knowledge of the formation heme may be presented with finds you won't be familiar with until after you finish hematology, ex. microscopic findings like ring sideroblasts, labs like mcv, etc.
 
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wdoc

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Ahhhh i see what you mean, okay I'll hold off on an Rx subscription until spring then. Thank you! By any chance do you have any suggestions for sources with good practice questions for just basic sciences? I imagine i can continue to use BRS for this, just curious if there's anything else out there.


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Don't get me wrong, getting a taste of a Q bank like USMLE Rx is useful during fall semester of 2nd year. I'm just saying that I wouldn't go crazy doing a ton of questions before you really buckle down for board studying. I knew quite a few people who did so and they were starting to get burned out during 2nd semester way before they took their boards. Bottom line is that everyone is different and only you know what you can handle. I'd highly recommend doing a few questions daily/every other day to get you thinking in a different way about your course material and about how you'll be tested on boards. If you have a busy week I wouldn't lose any sleep over not doing questions. I didn't really start doing UWorld questions seriously until February when I decided to start doing 30-40 question blocks every day.
 
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Scrubs101

Scrubs101

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Basically what wdoc said. These Q-banks are designed for studying for USMLE, not your medical school classes. As such the emphasis is going to be predominantly through the context of pathology and systems and as such a question that may test your knowledge of the formation heme may be presented with finds you won't be familiar with until after you finish hematology, ex. microscopic findings like ring sideroblasts, labs like mcv, etc.
Don't get me wrong, getting a taste of a Q bank like USMLE Rx is useful during fall semester of 2nd year. I'm just saying that I wouldn't go crazy doing a ton of questions before you really buckle down for board studying. I knew quite a few people who did so and they were starting to get burned out during 2nd semester way before they took their boards. Bottom line is that everyone is different and only you know what you can handle. I'd highly recommend doing a few questions daily/every other day to get you thinking in a different way about your course material and about how you'll be tested on boards. If you have a busy week I wouldn't lose any sleep over not doing questions. I didn't really start doing UWorld questions seriously until February when I decided to start doing 30-40 question blocks every day.
Awesome! Thanks for the advice guys I really appreciate it! I'll stick to the course pack(most of all) and BRS, with occasional review in FC and kaplan(just because I'll have it anyways) for now. Then once we're in systems move to Rx for supplementation


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DocWinter

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Don't start ripping through q banks as a MS1. Rx is a good bank if you want to waste one before dedicated time, but you won't help yourself as much as you think you will.
 
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Scrubs101

Scrubs101

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Don't start ripping through q banks as a MS1. Rx is a good bank if you want to waste one before dedicated time, but you won't help yourself as much as you think you will.
I find that doing practice questions helps a decent amount with class exams, and they really help solidify information for me. I get the notion of saving boards material until closer to boards though. I'm open to non-board based practice Q's if you have any suggestions! Especially for basic sciences, I'm really just looking for a reliable source to get a consistent supply of practice questions from. Since I only really know of 3 q-banks, my tentative plan was waste one long term for use in classes and getting the mindset right for boards based questions(Rx most likely), use one second semester 2nd year (kaplan), and the one for dedicated (UWorld)


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wdoc

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I personally do not condone the use of Firecracker, but others have found it to be helpful in keeping up with the basic science material. I believe they have practice questions and flash cards that you can use to review.
 
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Scrubs101

Scrubs101

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I personally do not condone the use of Firecracker, but others have found it to be helpful in keeping up with the basic science material. I believe they have practice questions and flash cards that you can use to review.
May I ask why you don't like firecracker? I've heard insanely mixed reviews on it to the point that its mind boggling. Some say they swear by it some say they hated it.


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BorntobeDO?

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May I ask why you don't like firecracker? I've heard insanely mixed reviews on it to the point that its mind boggling. Some say they swear by it some say they hated it.


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For me, I feel its similar to anki, but not as good. The spaced repetition on firecracker is different than Anki, and if you already liked Anki better (me) and had Bros or Vanki, then you prob don't want Firecracker. Firecracker has trouble also with weeding out too much or having too much info in their cards. With Bros, I can modify the card how I want, and I trust the memory system completely. With FC, when I tried it, I just didn't like how it interacted with me, even tho I like the idea of a set of cards that I don't have to do anything too.

OTH, Firecracker can work very well for people who do like it. There are people who do really well on boards with mostly FC. The materials clearly there, just different strokes for different folks.
 
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Scrubs101

Scrubs101

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For me, I feel its similar to anki, but not as good. The spaced repetition on firecracker is different than Anki, and if you already liked Anki better (me) and had Bros or Vanki, then you prob don't want Firecracker. Firecracker has trouble also with weeding out too much or having too much info in their cards. With Bros, I can modify the card how I want, and I trust the memory system completely. With FC, when I tried it, I just didn't like how it interacted with me, even tho I like the idea of a set of cards that I don't have to do anything too.

OTH, Firecracker can work very well for people who do like it. There are people who do really well on boards with mostly FC. The materials clearly there, just different strokes for different folks.
Ahhhhh okay I get it, I'll have to give the free trial a shot first in comparison to zanki/bros spaced repetition algorithm come fall semester. The biggest thing thats turning me off about anki is how un-user friendly it is lol, i could just spend some of my break between summer and fall semester learning the programs ins and outs. Seems those who understand its intricacies really love it. I'm currently using a different flash card app with a similar idea, except it lacks the bad/medium/good options after finishing a card and just calculates your strength on the card based on how many times you get it right/wrong. I'm not really utilizing it to it's potential though because i usually only get 1-2 passes through the material before i move on to practice questions


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USLME-Rx is a nice way to expose yourself to first aid without actually reading first aid.
 
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Azete

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Honestly one of the Step 1 Anki decks might better suit your needs. You can just activate the relevant cards as you pass through the material -- I didn't do this but in hindsight I think it would have been a good way to keep up with the material.

I used Rx for a bit early on in my boards studying and mostly found it to be a waste of time/money. I believe wholeheartedly that doing UWorld twice is better than doing Rx + UWorld.
 
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shadowlightfox

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I might as well ask here. But throughout my first year, I've been making my own cards for each lectures via Anki. What I was thinking was make my own cards for each lecture, as well as do a little bit of Bros or Zanki deck, and once my exams are over, abandon my own deck and stick to Bros/Zanki for those particular subjects. Would this be a good idea?
 

Azete

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I might as well ask here. But throughout my first year, I've been making my own cards for each lectures via Anki. What I was thinking was make my own cards for each lecture, as well as do a little bit of Bros or Zanki deck, and once my exams are over, abandon my own deck and stick to Bros/Zanki for those particular subjects. Would this be a good idea?
Everybody is different, but in general I found that Anki is an incredibly powerful and efficient tool if you have high quality cards already made for you. I found that making cards, especially for classes, to be more effort than it was worth. For example; given 10 hours of studying time, I'd almost always learn more of the material by just watching lectures and reading slides than I would using those 10 hours making cards and studying them.
 
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Scrubs101

Scrubs101

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Honestly one of the Step 1 Anki decks might better suit your needs. You can just activate the relevant cards as you pass through the material -- I didn't do this but in hindsight I think it would have been a good way to keep up with the material.

I used Rx for a bit early on in my boards studying and mostly found it to be a waste of time/money. I believe wholeheartedly that doing UWorld twice is better than doing Rx + UWorld.
Im definitely planning on using a pre-made flashcard deck of the sort, between firecrack and zanki. Will try and learn the ins and outs of anki over my next break and do the free trial of firecracker at the beginning of the fall!

The reason im considering a q bank on top of the flashcards is to just get used to the information presented in a multiple choice exam like question as well!

But i imagine ill figure out i wont have time for everything i want to do lol


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BorntobeDO?

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Everybody is different, but in general I found that Anki is an incredibly powerful and efficient tool if you have high quality cards already made for you. I found that making cards, especially for classes, to be more effort than it was worth. For example; given 10 hours of studying time, I'd almost always learn more of the material by just watching lectures and reading slides than I would using those 10 hours making cards and studying them.
This was the same for me. I even learned how to use the occlusion tool, but other than path (and even then) I am not sure it is worth the time. At one point last semester I did a block where I didn't take notes and forced myself to watch the lectures 3x+. This actually did let me pass, but I did better when I used class notes also.

So for me class notes review x3 + watching/rewatching lecture, has been a solid combo that gets me the 80%+ that I am going for, while leaving me time for dedicated. But this is individual, some people can make ANKI cards real fast, and those people tend to be at the top of my class.
 
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