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15+ Year Member
Jun 29, 2002
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Hello everybody. I posted this on another forum and a few people found it helpful, so I decided to post it here too. My apologies for the cross-posting and to anyone who has already read this information!

My study schedule was about 30 days long (4 Pathology, 4 Physiology, 4 Pharm, 4 Micro/Immuno, 3 Biochemistry, 2 Gross Anatomy/Embryo/Histo, 2 Neuroanatomy, 7 high-yield recap with First Aid). I found First Aid to be extremely helpful, and I ended up reciting its mnemonics in my head numerous times throughout the exam.

My booklist...

1. FIRST AID: I wish I would have bought this book at the beginning of medical school and used it with all of my classes! I didn?t end up buying it until the middle of my second year. It?s definitely not enough to be your only source, but it?s a good collection of high-yield facts for review.

2. BRS Pathology: I read it twice and felt that path was one of my stronger subjects.

3. BRS Physiology: Very well written and concise.

4. Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple: This book makes reviewing for micro less painful, and the cartoons will help you remember the bugs and drugs.

5. Microbiology and Immunology (Lange): The 80 pages of immunology are VERY helpful, along with the chapters of Medically Important Bacteria/Viruses/Fungi/Parasites/bugs.

6. High-Yield Gross Anatomy: This book has much more anatomy than you?ll need to know for Step 1.

7. High-Yield Embryology: see above.

8. High-Yield Neuroanatomy: This book was VERY useful. The MRIs and gross sections were very helpful, and I got at least 10 neuro x-rays/MRIs/CT on my exam.

9. BRS Cell Biology & Histology: Just read the first 4 chapters.

10. BRS Behavioral Science: Know the pharm chapter by heart. The last two chapters were sufficient for epidemiology.

11. High-Yield Behavioral Science: This book is written by the same author as the BRS, but I found the chapter regarding the Patient-Physician Relationship to be much more helpful since it provides more examples and vignettes. If you have to choose between the two, get this book.

12. Lippincott?s Pharmacology: This book is very helpful. Memorize the unit on the autonomic drugs.

13. High-Yield Biochemistry: Very concise, no-fat approach to biochemistry. Between this book and FA, I felt well-prepared for a subject that I despise.

14. Buzzwords for the Boards: Nice for a change of pace and to quiz yourself on high-yield facts.

15. NMS Review for USMLE Step 1: I used this book at the beginning of my study period, but then focused on Kaplan Qbank for the last 2 weeks. I thought its questions were much easier than Qbank, so it was better to use in the beginning of my study period when my knowledge was very small. I didn?t think its questions were reflective of the USMLE, since they would describe a case and then proceed to ask 3-4 questions related to that case. NONE of the USMLE questions are like that. Many of its questions are also one-step questions, where as Qbank gives you more practice with 2 or 3 step questions that are similar to the USMLE.

16. Kaplan Qbank/Qbook: Like everyone else has said, I felt that the Kaplan questions were absolutely crucial in my preparation. The detailed explanations were great to learn from, and its questions are VERY SIMILAR to the USMLE questions. When I was taking Step 1, I felt like I was doing Qbank (for a very long time).

17. Robbins Review of Pathology: Good path questions and explanations, but can be frustrating since some questions are very nit-picky and somewhat low-yield. This book would have been more helpful if I had used it during my second year courses.

Typical Study Day...

8am-10am Questions (good to get your brain used to functioning and answering questions at this time of the morning).
10am-12pm STUDY
12pm-1pm Lunch
1pm-5pm STUDY
5pm-8pm Dinner/Gym/Life
8pm-10pm STUDY

I was definitely experiencing some pre-test jitters the night before <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" /> . I went to bed at my usual time, but had a hard time falling asleep and found myself jumping out of bed to look up random facts in FA.

I made sure I had my passport and driver?s license (you don?t need both, I?m just paranoid since one of my classmates was denied admission into the testing center since her driver?s license had expired) and printed out my confirmation from the prometric website (http://www.totest.com).

DEFINITELY CONFIRM YOUR APPOINTMENT! Two of my classmates found out that they weren?t even on the schedule when they called to confirm their appointments! :mad:

I got up early to pack lunch (PB&J, yogurt, protein bar), and got to the testing center about 45 minutes early. I used most of that time to look over the autonomic drugs and pharm drug-drug interactions in First Aid. They give you a locker to put your stuff in, check your ID, and take your picture. Since there are other tests going on and people will be moving in and out of the room, try to request a computer that is further away from the door to help cut down noise. They give you earplugs, but I didn?t use them since I just think it?s uncomfortable to have stuff in your ears. They give you two erasable boards and a marker, and you request new ones when you fill yours up.

I followed the break schedule in First Aid, and thought it worked out pretty well. I skipped the Tutorial to get 15 more minutes of break time. I didn?t take a break after the first block, used a bathroom break after block 2, no break after block 3, 20 minute lunch break after block 4 (and took some Aleve), no break after block 5, and a 5 minute break after block 6 to eat a protein bar since I was feeling very fatigued by this point.

Time was not an issue. I had plenty of time to finish all of the questions in the block, and to go back and look over the ones that I had marked. I was feeling exhausted by block 6! I didn?t need more break time, I was just wanted to keep on truckin? and get the test done.

The test is painfully long and grueling, but it is not impossible. I felt that by doing Kaplan Qbank, I had encountered about 70% of the USMLE questions before. Of the remaining 30%, I felt that even though I had never seen a question before, there was plenty of information provided to at least narrow down the answers to 2 choices. There were very few questions that made me think ?huh?? :confused: and I?m hoping those were the experimental ones.

A few questions were direct recall questions, but the majority of questions required 2 or 3 steps. I would be reading a case, formulating a dx in my head, then thinking of the appropriate drug of choice, and its mechanism of action. Other times, I would be reading the entire vignette, formulating a dx, rx, and MOA, and then stupid question would ask something like, ?what?s the best thing to say to this patient?? So to help save time, if you have a really long vignette, try to glance at the end for the question.

Be careful about knee-jerk choices! <img border="0" alt="[Wowie]" title="" src="graemlins/wowie.gif" /> Though most of the questions are straight-forward, please do not automatically go for the knee-jerk response (i.e. sickle cell & Salmonella infection, asbestos & malignant mesothelioma)! I found myself thinking of the knee-jerk response when I was reading the beginning of a vignette, but as I read more of it, the answer was DEFINITELY not the knee-jerk response.

I had very little equations or calculations on my test. There were a few path pictures, but they weren?t absolutely necessary since the question usually contained enough information already.

Behavioral questions were very, very similar to Qbank.

I had LOTS of Immunology on my test. Not a lot of Anatomy.

I had 3 exact questions from the USMLE sample exam.

I can?t believe that it?s all over now. I wish that it didn?t take 6 weeks to get our scores back! I was scoring about 70-80% on Qbank, and I got 78% on the sample exam. I just don?t want to have to take this test again!

Hope that some of this information was helpful, and best of luck to everybody who will be taking Step 1 :D


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Jul 2, 2002
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Hi, I used all the books you listed as well (well except for BRS Cell and Molecular). I found that they covered all of the questions on my exam which i took last week. the only problem was remembering it all! I used most of the books through my preclinical years as well so i guess that helped. I guess we'll see how good the books were in 5 weeks.....!
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Mar 17, 2000
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Thanks so much for your great advice!! You didn't mention the UCV or the BSS.....do you think it is worth reviewing those at all? I have about 4 weeks left. Also, what were you scoring on QBank or QBook when you first started reviewing?


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Jul 27, 2002
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Hey bubs those are good scores in the qbank, let me know what you got in the exam when you get the results, i'm trying to correlate them.
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