Just got scores back - Here's how I studied, take it with a grain of salt.

Pkboi24

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After years of browsing SDN, reading people's posts about their high scores, and feeling the need to hide my less than adequate numbers behind a veil of shame, it is finally my turn.

255 BABY! - I probably sound like a jackass but we all deserve our moment in the limelight.

Anyways, I thought that since everyone on SDN just eats this stuff up, I'd share how I studied for this monstrosity of an exam.

I studied for a total of 9 weeks. The plan was 8 but I pushed back a week at the end. I was nearly about to push back another week but poor planning and a $108 prevented me from doing so.

My 4 main tools of study: First Aid, USMLE World, Flash Cards, and NBME practice tests

The overall structure of my method (if you can call it a method): Read one chapter, do one relevant USMLE World section. Repeat until finished with First Aid. Do all NBME Practice tests and reread material from questions you missed. Day before test, don't study. I tried to study the day before but all it did was make me nervous. I got no sleep and went into the test dead tired. Just read the high yield section of First Aid in the back and call it a day.

First Aid: This is your bible. I found that it was best to read small chunks at a time. A lot of people say to go through it 2-3 times. I only went over the entire thing once and then selective pages and chapters as needed while I did questions.

USMLE World: The format of the actual test is EXACTLY like this. The buttons of the program and the layout and font are exactly as you will see it test day. The real thing has shorter stems and many of the questions are much more direct, requiring only 1-2 step reasoning.

Flash Cards: These were very handy as it allowed me to study on the go. I downloaded a flash card app on my palm pre and from it I downloaded tons of free Step I flash cards made by people throughout the years. I believe the main set I used had over 3000 cards in it. I think I ended up finishing only 1/3 of the set.

NBME 1-7: I believe I did all of these except for either 7 or 5 (I forget). These are extremely helpful. Since there are over 1400 questions if you take all the tests, you will be extremely well versed in the way NBME words their questions. I saw a few questions and charts on the real thing that were extremely similar to questions on the practice tests. The score prediction is also very spot-on. In fact, I scored a few points higher than I did on the practice tests.

IF THERE IS ONE THING I CAN IMPRESS UPON YOU AFTER READING THIS, I HOPE IT WILL BE TO TAKE AS MANY NBME TESTS AS YOU CAN.

Verdict:

The real thing, in my opinion, was moderately difficult. Time is usually not an issue, but if you're like me and you're stubborn enough to spend 2 minutes on an ethics question, it will be a problem for you. My math is terrible and when I had to calculate allele frequency, one question took me about 3-4 minutes. I got the answer eventually, but I had to rush through the rest of the section. The difficulty of the questions was about average. There were a few gimmes and a few USMLE World type questions but the majority was medium length (about 3 lines long) and required 1-2 step reasoning skills. Don't worry about feeling ready about the test. People told me you can never feel ready and I didn't believe them but when it came test time, I felt wholly unprepared - but I suppose, mistakenly so.

This is about all I can think of off the top of my head. Now, if you will excuse me, I must treat myself to a new laptop and put to rest this dear friend of 6 years on which I am typing this post.
 
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Lests55

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Congrats! I thought you felt terrible about your test....
 

Pkboi24

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Congrats! I thought you felt terrible about your test....
I felt horrible, but I guess I shouldn't have. I think a lot of the hardest questions might have been experimental. Besides, you don't get to check your answers on the real thing like on practice exams. After 7 hours, you start forgetting how you're doing overall. Good thing I was wrong...
 

Pkboi24

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Congrats! ...... no goljan?
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I listened to Goljan. He was good but I listened to his lecture as something on the side when I had leisure time. Good for pathology.
 

illixir

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Just since you mentioned you took all the NBMEs, how did your scores progress from the beginning of studying to the end; if you remember or have them whatd you make on the specific tests in order?

Congrats on that score man, that must feel great!
 

DocLan

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So how did you use the NBMEs besides just getting familiar with the wording and since you don't know the answers?
 

Elixir86

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Congrats on a great score!! Like a previous poster mentioned, if you could post your NBME score progression that would be nice to get an idea of how your methods of studying reflected your scores. Also, how did you end up doing on UWorld? Did you do the questions timed or on tutor? Thanks and congratulations again!
 

Pkboi24

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Congrats on a great score!! Like a previous poster mentioned, if you could post your NBME score progression that would be nice to get an idea of how your methods of studying reflected your scores. Also, how did you end up doing on UWorld? Did you do the questions timed or on tutor? Thanks and congratulations again!
I finished all of First Aid and UW and with about 1 week before the test I started doing NBME. I did 1-2 a day. My score on NBME 1 (first one I took) was something equivalent to a 248, then i took NBME 4 the next day and got a 253, and then the day after that I took 2 and 3 and got around the same. Finally I took number 6 and got low 250's as well. I took these over the course of a week and read up on all the wrong answers afterwards. There are answers to the tests around the internet if you're willing to look. I cannot, for copyright reasons, talk about that here.

Prior to this insane practice test marathon, I read First Aid cover to cover once and did all UW questions. Accomplishing these two things took me the better part of 2 months, but I guess I'm just one of those people that are slower. I know some people that went through FA 2-3X.

For UW, I did the questions timed. I was getting around 70% in the beginning and then 80% near the end. After about 1000 questions, you tend to get in tune with the way UW question writers think.
 

vicinihil

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wow so you did an NBME a day on average...sometimes 2? That's some hardcore endurance you have there. I guess that's what propeled to the end and the great score. Did you find certain NBME's to be "more similar" to the exam? Would you say the later ones are better than the earlier ones?
 

Pkboi24

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wow so you did an NBME a day on average...sometimes 2? That's some hardcore endurance you have there. I guess that's what propeled to the end and the great score. Did you find certain NBME's to be "more similar" to the exam? Would you say the later ones are better than the earlier ones?
People say 1 is the easiest and 4 is suppose to be the hardest. I say they're all about the same. In fact, I scored highest on 4. So it's different for everyone and depends on what subjects you are strong at.
 
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WOW.. from all the other study-plan-posts I've read there were tons of review books. This is amazing considering your main review BOOK was FA.. qbanks and cards too etc but wow most others list lots of RR, HY, brs, and a ton of others like Made Ridiculously Simple etc. GOOD FREAKIN' JOB!!!!!!

are you a great student consistently? because you seemed to start your studying being pretty strong fundamentally.

which leads to my question, I want to start preparing for Step 1 from M1, which starts for me in a few months. should I buy review books for each subject to read along with textbooks for better retention? I'm a US-IMG and the textbooks at my school aren't very "USMLE-friendly".. so should I buy review books to prepare me for the USMLE along with my studies, or spring for full-length American textbooks to read alongside the required ones? I'm all for difficultly.

Any recommendations will be appreciated. Also, anyone's opinion on a head start on big Robbins?

I think studying for the USMLE starts from day one of M1 and I want to be ready. USMLE is my only hope because I'm a US citizen/not a citizen of the country I'm in, and can't practice medicine in the public sector here.
 

gman33

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WOW.. from all the other study-plan-posts I've read there were tons of review books. This is amazing considering your main review BOOK was FA.. qbanks and cards too etc but wow most others list lots of RR, HY, brs, and a ton of others like Made Ridiculously Simple etc. GOOD FREAKIN' JOB!!!!!!

are you a great student consistently? because you seemed to start your studying being pretty strong fundamentally.

which leads to my question, I want to start preparing for Step 1 from M1, which starts for me in a few months. should I buy review books for each subject to read along with textbooks for better retention? I'm a US-IMG and the textbooks at my school aren't very "USMLE-friendly".. so should I buy review books to prepare me for the USMLE along with my studies, or spring for full-length American textbooks to read alongside the required ones? I'm all for difficultly.

Any recommendations will be appreciated. Also, anyone's opinion on a head start on big Robbins?

I think studying for the USMLE starts from day one of M1 and I want to be ready. USMLE is my only hope because I'm a US citizen/not a citizen of the country I'm in, and can't practice medicine in the public sector here.
M1 isn't as high yield for the boards. You need to learn a lot more material just to do well in your classes. I'd focus on that for now and just try to build up a strong base. M2 is where you can really get some more board type prep in. Get FA and/or RR Path and try to follow along during your classes. Put in a few extra notes and make sure you know the concepts in those books cold.

You'll get varying opinions on Robbins. Personally, I don't like it one bit. A lot of bs that I never had the time and/or ability to learn. I used RR Path as my bible most of M2. We had decent class notes, it might not work if you don't.
 

phospho

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WOW.. from all the other study-plan-posts I've read there were tons of review books. This is amazing considering your main review BOOK was FA.. qbanks and cards too etc but wow most others list lots of RR, HY, brs, and a ton of others like Made Ridiculously Simple etc. GOOD FREAKIN' JOB!!!!!!

are you a great student consistently? because you seemed to start your studying being pretty strong fundamentally.

which leads to my question, I want to start preparing for Step 1 from M1, which starts for me in a few months. should I buy review books for each subject to read along with textbooks for better retention? I'm a US-IMG and the textbooks at my school aren't very "USMLE-friendly".. so should I buy review books to prepare me for the USMLE along with my studies, or spring for full-length American textbooks to read alongside the required ones? I'm all for difficultly.

Any recommendations will be appreciated. Also, anyone's opinion on a head start on big Robbins?

I think studying for the USMLE starts from day one of M1 and I want to be ready. USMLE is my only hope because I'm a US citizen/not a citizen of the country I'm in, and can't practice medicine in the public sector here.
I've heard a lot of people say that doing as well as you can in M1 is great for step 1, not because there's anything remotely close to high yield that you'd be taking, but because you would be building a solid foundation for M2.

Understanding M2 and doing well will take you a long way. I'm an M1, but I was in your shoes before I started, trying to see if I should start preparing, etc... Just take it one step at a time... it'll all fall into place.