dragonmate

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Apr 19, 2005
175
0
Status
So I've been reading various threads seeming to convey the notion that board review books should be bought and used from day 1 (MSI). Can someone please shed some light on this topic? If the review books need to be used concurrently with our coursework, how do you all use them (do you just use the questions in there or do you read the books), and which review books are most helpful (First Aid and BRS seem to be most popular)? Thanks!
 

jllander

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 27, 2005
206
2
Charlottesville, VA
Status
Resident [Any Field]
dragonmate said:
So I've been reading various threads seeming to convey the notion that board review books should be bought and used from day 1 (MSI). Can someone please shed some light on this topic? If the review books need to be used concurrently with our coursework, how do you all use them (do you just use the questions in there or do you read the books), and which review books are most helpful (First Aid and BRS seem to be most popular)? Thanks!
Ahh, yes. Review books: to use or not to use? Whether or not you use review books while taking classes is really dependent on your curriculum and how you learn. The thing is, the material you are tested on in school tends to be more detailed than the material on the boards. Therefore, you can't rely solely on the review books to get you through your classes. However, the review books are a great resource for pneumonics, tips and hints to help remember complex and tricky material. I think BRS and First Aid are good easy reads. I also found that the Lippincott Pharm review was a good one.

I used review books to varying degrees throughout my first year. In anatomy, I didn't touch BRS until the few days before each test. It was a quick review and the questions at the end really helped cement the details. When I got to the basic sciences (immuno, biochem, micro) I didn't really use the review books. I personally thought Lippincott's biochem was awful and immuno and micro were completely new to me so I read the full textbooks to learn them. I learned Pharm from Lippincott's simply because I thought the lectures were disorganized and incomplete. Anyway, each person is unique and will find them useful to varying degrees. I think it's safe to say, and a lot of people will agree, First Aid, BRS Path and BRS physio are all safe buys. Good luck with everything!!
 
OP
dragonmate

dragonmate

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Apr 19, 2005
175
0
Status
jllander said:
Ahh, yes. Review books: to use or not to use? Whether or not you use review books while taking classes is really dependent on your curriculum and how you learn. The thing is, the material you are tested on in school tends to be more detailed than the material on the boards. Therefore, you can't rely solely on the review books to get you through your classes. However, the review books are a great resource for pneumonics, tips and hints to help remember complex and tricky material. I think BRS and First Aid are good easy reads. I also found that the Lippincott Pharm review was a good one.

I used review books to varying degrees throughout my first year. In anatomy, I didn't touch BRS until the few days before each test. It was a quick review and the questions at the end really helped cement the details. When I got to the basic sciences (immuno, biochem, micro) I didn't really use the review books. I personally thought Lippincott's biochem was awful and immuno and micro were completely new to me so I read the full textbooks to learn them. I learned Pharm from Lippincott's simply because I thought the lectures were disorganized and incomplete. Anyway, each person is unique and will find them useful to varying degrees. I think it's safe to say, and a lot of people will agree, First Aid, BRS Path and BRS physio are all safe buys. Good luck with everything!!
Thanks for the advice jllander. So you're actually using these books to study up on the courses. It's not as if you're actually "actively" studying for the boards come MSI...right?
PS: I do recognize that we start "studying" for the boards just by taking the course work, but that's why I said "actively."
 
About the Ads

jllander

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 27, 2005
206
2
Charlottesville, VA
Status
Resident [Any Field]
dragonmate said:
Thanks for the advice jllander. So you're actually using these books to study up on the courses. It's not as if you're actually "actively" studying for the boards come MSI...right?
PS: I do recognize that we start "studying" for the boards just by taking the course work, but that's why I said "actively."
Oh no, I did not actively study for the boards while taking the class. I was just using those books to get the key details I needed to pass the test. <wink, wink> There are always details that the specific professor thinks are important (or worse, just "interesting") and I made sure to know those. But it was also good to know what I needed to really retain because I'd see it again for the boards and that is where the review books came in handy.
 
OP
dragonmate

dragonmate

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Apr 19, 2005
175
0
Status
jllander said:
Oh no, I did not actively study for the boards while taking the class. I was just using those books to get the key details I needed to pass the test. <wink, wink> There are always details that the specific professor thinks are important (or worse, just "interesting") and I made sure to know those. But it was also good to know what I needed to really retain because I'd see it again for the boards and that is where the review books came in handy.
Thank you! That is very helpful. Have a great rest of the summer and good luck with second year!
 

doctorFred

intensive carer
10+ Year Member
May 5, 2005
1,111
47
, location, location!
Status
Attending Physician
first aid for the usmle step 1 is the bible of step 1 review, evidentally. i just bought it and i start ms1 in august. i'm also going to brush up as i go along.
 

sophiejane

Exhausted
Moderator Emeritus
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Sep 18, 2003
2,778
5
Waco, TX
Visit site
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I don't think you are going to get a lot from First Aid in year one. It's a REVIEW book and assumes you know all the concepts. I guess it would be useful to highlight those testable concepts, but that's all first year is about if your school has good board pass rates.

Also, there's clinical concepts that aren't going to mean much to you until 2nd year.

Here's the big secret: if you know your stuff, it doesn't matter what board review books you use. It cracks me up, people swearing by certain books, saying they will make you score higher. It's BS. If you really, thoroughly learn the basic concepts in first year, then add in the clinical stuff in 2nd year (which will make more sense with a good foundation from first year), and do plenty of practice questions, there is no secret information of magical formula in any review book that is going to make any difference in your score, because your foundation will be solid.

Look at the people who do well--most of them do well across the board, starting in first year. That's not a coincidence. Learn from them. Learn from their study habits and how they learn CONCEPTS.

Here's an example. Everyone swears by the MKSAP book for IM shelf exam after 3rd year IM rotation. They all say it's THE book and everyone gives testamonials about how THE BOOK raised their score, yadda yadda. Then why did people who DIDN"T use MKSAP score really high as well? There are several examples at my school to back this up.

The answer is that there is the SAME information in EVERY review book. (Take it from someone who has looked at many of them). The ONLY difference is how the information is presented. And guess what? There is NOTHING in any of those books that (if you go to a decent school) will not be taught to you in first or second year.

So relax about the boards right now. Focus your energy on doing well in first year and learning the crap out of those basic concepts, so you can apply them in second year.

Best of luck to all of you. It's a fun ride...
 

doctorFred

intensive carer
10+ Year Member
May 5, 2005
1,111
47
, location, location!
Status
Attending Physician
sorry, not to be overly critical here, but i have a few points of contention.

sophiejane said:
I don't think you are going to get a lot from First Aid in year one. It's a REVIEW book and assumes you know all the concepts. I guess it would be useful to highlight those testable concepts, but that's all first year is about if your school has good board pass rates.
that's sort of the point. as test day approaches, you review the pertinent stuff. i'm not going to read it cover to cover right now because it wouldn't make much sense, and it wouldn't stick.

Here's the big secret: if you know your stuff, it doesn't matter what board review books you use.
not to be too obnoxious here, but.. no duh! i wasn't endorsing one book over another. just pointing out that first aid is the most popular and most widely cited review text for step 1.

Here's an example. Everyone swears by the MKSAP book for IM shelf exam after 3rd year IM rotation. They all say it's THE book and everyone gives testamonials about how THE BOOK raised their score, yadda yadda. Then why did people who DIDN"T use MKSAP score really high as well? There are several examples at my school to back this up.
the fact that there are people who have scored highly without using a given review text doesn't really mean anything. there are also people who can read the blackboard from the back of a large lecture hall without wearing glasses. so are glasses pointless?

The answer is that there is the SAME information in EVERY review book. (Take it from someone who has looked at many of them). The ONLY difference is how the information is presented.
the "how" is almost as important as the "what." people learn and review concepts based on how they're presented!

So relax about the boards right now. Focus your energy on doing well in first year and learning the crap out of those basic concepts, so you can apply them in second year.
i agree, and i'm not worried about the boards at all. but i've heard it from enough different sources to accept that having a concise step 1 review text to periodically consult throughout your first two years can be helpful when it comes time to review for the boards. in the very least, you'll be extremely comfortable with the review text.
 

Law2Doc

5K+ Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Dec 20, 2004
30,981
9,895
Status
Attending Physician
zahque said:
that's sort of the point. as test day approaches, you review the pertinent stuff. i'm not going to read it cover to cover right now because it wouldn't make much sense, and it wouldn't stick.
I tend to agree with the prior poster -- it doesn't pay to look at first aid and spend time figuring out what stuff you need to know for first year and what you'll get to later. There are much higher yield resources geared just to the first year stuff. First Aid is better to bring into the mix a year later.

But one thing one learns is that EVERYONE studies and learns differently, and so everyone has to find their own methods, books, systems. It is almost an unwritten rule in med school that at some point you will spend a lot of money on books you will never use, based on what at the time sounds like good advice.
 

GuP

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Oct 28, 2005
719
1
Status
I haven't read all the earlier posts in this thread so maybe someone did say this already. IMHO, as MS1, you should read the textbook and try to absorb as much as you can from a textbook. I believe that this should get you good grades in school and help you study for the boards. Once MS1 is over, crack open FA and read the subjects ya did in MS1. You can take notes, add details or whatever else. I don't think review books are helpful from the get go. That's like learning to walk before you can crawl.
 

thesauce

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
Aug 5, 2005
3,131
213
Status
Attending Physician
First Aid is great for the SHELF exams. I bought a copy right away and used it through M1. If you buy it, you should get one of the older editions that organizes the material by subject. The new one is organized by systems and is great for the boards, but isn't much help for the individual SHELF exams or M1 in general.
 

MadameLULU

Saucy
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Aug 14, 2004
4,463
16
KNOTSville
Status
Resident [Any Field]
thesauce said:
The new one is organized by systems and is great for the boards, but isn't much help for the individual SHELF exams or M1 in general.
Not entirely true. This depends on how a school's curriculum is organized. My school is organized around organ system rather than subject material, so the new one would be more helpful. I just finished my first year and I think FA is helpful. I've been making notes in the margins as I go along to prepare me for an old step that my school requres us to take before we enter clinics in 6 months :eek: !
 

thesauce

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
Aug 5, 2005
3,131
213
Status
Attending Physician
MadameLULU said:
Not entirely true. This depends on how a school's curriculum is organized. My school is organized around organ system rather than subject material, so the new one would be more helpful. I just finished my first year and I think FA is helpful. I've been making notes in the margins as I go along to prepare me for an old step that my school requres us to take before we enter clinics in 6 months :eek: !
How does that make it helpful for SHELF exams?
 

MadameLULU

Saucy
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Aug 14, 2004
4,463
16
KNOTSville
Status
Resident [Any Field]
thesauce said:
How does that make it helpful for SHELF exams?
Not everyone takes shelf exams. The OP asked about review books for M1 in general, not specifically shelf exams. I just mentioned that FA could help but it really depends on how a school's curriculum is organized and how a student learns. However, in general, I do think FA would be good to look over as one goes over the material to see the big points that will be covered on step 1.
 

thesauce

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
Aug 5, 2005
3,131
213
Status
Attending Physician
MadameLULU said:
Not everyone takes shelf exams. The OP asked about review books for M1 in general, not specifically shelf exams. I just mentioned that FA could help but it really depends on how a school's curriculum is organized and how a student learns. However, in general, I do think FA would be good to look over as one goes over the material to see the big points that will be covered on step 1.
Okay, we're in agreement then. Your previous post seemed like it was responding to the comment about classes and SHELF exams so I assumed that your school required them too.

On a different note, I wonder if they have any SHELF exams by system?
 

OSUdoc08

Membership Revoked
Removed
15+ Year Member
Sep 30, 2003
7,698
6
Status
Medical Student
dragonmate said:
So I've been reading various threads seeming to convey the notion that board review books should be bought and used from day 1 (MSI). Can someone please shed some light on this topic? If the review books need to be used concurrently with our coursework, how do you all use them (do you just use the questions in there or do you read the books), and which review books are most helpful (First Aid and BRS seem to be most popular)? Thanks!
You can use first aid and BRS to review material for exams. I wish I had used first aid myself, but I did use BRS (for the practice questions in the back.)
 
OP
dragonmate

dragonmate

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Apr 19, 2005
175
0
Status
Ok. so the consensus seems to be that it would be helpful to have a review book, such as FA, on hand to review big concepts as you go along, but it is certainly not used to "study" for the boards during M1. The questions and big concepts in the review books, however, might help with SHELF exams. Looks like I'll be getting First Aid for M1, just to have it. I'll be in debt up to my eyeballs anyways. What's another $70 book going to do? ;)
 

DNAroolez

Alpha Helix
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Nov 8, 2005
95
3
Philly
Status
Pre-Medical
This is all news to me, so I'm glad i read this thread. I will be starting M1 at Jefferson in a couple of weeks, and apparantly we will be given "board sytle exams." i am not quite sure what this means, but would a good board review book be a good idea in this case? also, a lot of current M1's at Jeff have said not to buy any books at all for first year. They are given a very thick syllabus for every class that has all the information you need to know. How should this tie in with the board review books?
 

Pewl

The Dude Abides
10+ Year Member
Aug 8, 2005
1,495
3
Hollywood Star Lanes
Status
Attending Physician
Heh, i can't believe there is all this contention about the 'ultimate' list of books to get. Just look at all the damn books yourself and if they help, great! If not, then don't use them! =P
 
About the Ads