Azete

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Hi folks, I'll be starting medical school in 2016 and I'd like some informed opinions about a strategy some current students mentioned.

Given the heavy weight on board scores, I've learned some students decide to only do the bare minimum to pass their pre-clinical courses, while focusing heavily on studying for Step 1. I know one particular student that was in the bottom quartile of her class, but scored a 260 on Step 1.

Is this a viable strategy? What would the outcome be during residency matches?

I'm interested to hear some thoughts on this.
 
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I assume it would depend on the grading scheme of your school, if it is unranked P/F then as long as you pass you can skate by at the minimum.
 
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mimelim

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Hi folks, I'll be starting medical school in 2016 and I'd like some informed opinions about a strategy some current students mentioned.

Given the heavy weight on board scores, I've learned some students decide to only do the bare minimum to pass their pre-clinical courses, while focusing heavily on studying for Step 1. I know one particular student that was in the bottom quartile of her class, but scored a 260 on Step 1.

Is this a viable strategy? What would the outcome be during residency matches?

I'm interested to hear some thoughts on this.
#1 Pre-clinical grades mean very little for residency matching.
#2 Step 1 is the first thing that most people use to separate candidates.

There is zero reason that these are mutually exclusive. Is there an argument for not killing yourself in pre-clinical classes by studying day and night minutia that will never show up again? Yes. But, that doesn't mean that you should be slacking. There is also zero reason to be studying for Step 1 until the second half of second year. Many would argue that you should be mastering the material in class and then reviewing only the last 5-8 weeks prior to Step 1. In general, the people who do well in their classes do well on Step 1. Yes, there are a lot of people who pass everything and then do well on Step 1. But, that has nothing to do with what you should be doing your first year.
 

BurghMed

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#1 Pre-clinical grades mean very little for residency matching.
#2 Step 1 is the first thing that most people use to separate candidates.

There is zero reason that these are mutually exclusive. Is there an argument for not killing yourself in pre-clinical classes by studying day and night minutia that will never show up again? Yes. But, that doesn't mean that you should be slacking. There is also zero reason to be studying for Step 1 until the second half of second year. Many would argue that you should be mastering the material in class and then reviewing only the last 5-8 weeks prior to Step 1. In general, the people who do well in their classes do well on Step 1. Yes, there are a lot of people who pass everything and then do well on Step 1. But, that has nothing to do with what you should be doing your first year.

Quick question mimelim, if you don't mind (if you have answered this in other threads (likely) please let me know, because I don't need to waste your time). I know there are a number of threads and valuable answers to the "how to choose a medical school" question, but was wondering what your opinion is on the matter. I can dig through other threads if need be to find your answer to this question because I value your opinion. I'm more than happy to PM you as well on the matter or ask more directed questions regarding the issue. I figured it might be a good opportunity to pose this to you here and now instead of asking independently or starting another one of these threads. Thanks.


Edit: Obviously, most people don't have the luxury of choosing between a number of schools. But in this imaginary world, what would you look for most, happiness, cost, curriculum concerns, etc, etc? Thanks again.
 

mimelim

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Quick question mimelim, if you don't mind (if you have answered this in other threads (likely) please let me know, because I don't need to waste your time). I know there are a number of threads and valuable answers to the "how to choose a medical school" question, but was wondering what your opinion is on the matter. I can dig through other threads if need be to find your answer to this question because I value your opinion. I'm more than happy to PM you as well on the matter or ask more directed questions regarding the issue. I figured it might be a good opportunity to pose this to you here and now instead of asking independently or starting another one of these threads. Thanks.


Edit: Obviously, most people don't have the luxury of choosing between a number of schools. But in this imaginary world, what would you look for most, happiness, cost, curriculum concerns, etc, etc? Thanks again.
I think that you need to maximize your chances of doing well. What does that mean...

Everyone is different. We are affected by things in different ways. Different things are of different importance to each of us. How they are weighted is highly individual. Your ability to study is important. To do well in your pre-clinical curriculum, Step 1 and clinical rotations, you need to be able to focus and work, hard. That means optimizing your home life as best you can. Physical, emotional and spiritual support are incredibly important and modulate how well people will do at school. For some people it can make or break them, being close to family or their significant other. You want to be at a school that will help you with your weaknesses and maximize your strengths. This means matching curriculum/grading style to your learning style. This means having resources available to allow you to do research if you want it.

Equally important is the quality of education you get. Virtually every US MD school teaches the same pre-clinical curriculum, but clinical experience varies tremendously. Take a loot at the Allopathic forums on SDN and you will see a lot of threads about people complaining about things that are largely driven by poor organization at clinical sites, inadequate preceptorship or even malignant individuals.

After all of that, cost is important, but I think everyone can take solace in the fact that they are going to have a job at the end of this and will be able to pay off their loans. But, yes, compounding interest is painful and minimizing it is important.
 

BurghMed

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I think that you need to maximize your chances of doing well. What does that mean...

Everyone is different. We are affected by things in different ways. Different things are of different importance to each of us. How they are weighted is highly individual. Your ability to study is important. To do well in your pre-clinical curriculum, Step 1 and clinical rotations, you need to be able to focus and work, hard. That means optimizing your home life as best you can. Physical, emotional and spiritual support are incredibly important and modulate how well people will do at school. For some people it can make or break them, being close to family or their significant other. You want to be at a school that will help you with your weaknesses and maximize your strengths. This means matching curriculum/grading style to your learning style. This means having resources available to allow you to do research if you want it.

Equally important is the quality of education you get. Virtually every US MD school teaches the same pre-clinical curriculum, but clinical experience varies tremendously. Take a loot at the Allopathic forums on SDN and you will see a lot of threads about people complaining about things that are largely driven by poor organization at clinical sites, inadequate preceptorship or even malignant individuals.

After all of that, cost is important, but I think everyone can take solace in the fact that they are going to have a job at the end of this and will be able to pay off their loans. But, yes, compounding interest is painful and minimizing it is important.

Thank you so much, interesting to hear and makes complete sense. If you don't mind I might send a short PM to you in the future. Always really appreciated your input on SDN.
 

Goro

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My students who barely pass their courses are the ones who FAIL our COMLEX Level I or barely pass it. We strongly advise them not to sit for USMLE.

There a lot of published data showing that pre-clinical GPA is a good predictor for Board performance.

I know people who won the Lotto too.

Hi folks, I'll be starting medical school in 2016 and I'd like some informed opinions about a strategy some current students mentioned.

Given the heavy weight on board scores, I've learned some students decide to only do the bare minimum to pass their pre-clinical courses, while focusing heavily on studying for Step 1. I know one particular student that was in the bottom quartile of her class, but scored a 260 on Step 1.

Is this a viable strategy? What would the outcome be during residency matches?

I'm interested to hear some thoughts on this.
 

WingedOx

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Umm, studying for pre-clinical tests IS studying for step 1. A venn diagram of step 1 material and preclinical material is basically a perfect circle.

It's not like they're giving you classes and tests on the history of women's sufferage in Southeast Asia during the preclinical years. This isn't college anymore.
 

Oh_Gee

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#1 Pre-clinical grades mean very little for residency matching.
#2 Step 1 is the first thing that most people use to separate candidates.

There is zero reason that these are mutually exclusive. Is there an argument for not killing yourself in pre-clinical classes by studying day and night minutia that will never show up again? Yes. But, that doesn't mean that you should be slacking. There is also zero reason to be studying for Step 1 until the second half of second year. Many would argue that you should be mastering the material in class and then reviewing only the last 5-8 weeks prior to Step 1. In general, the people who do well in their classes do well on Step 1. Yes, there are a lot of people who pass everything and then do well on Step 1. But, that has nothing to do with what you should be doing your first year.
So consider 2 applicants with similar board scores and EC's. If student A went to pass/fail school and passed everything and student b went to school with letter grades and got mostly B's and C's (never failed a class) , who would the residency director take
 

WingedOx

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So consider 2 applicants with similar board scores and EC's. If student A went to pass/fail school and passed everything and student b went to school with letter grades and got mostly B's and C's (never failed a class) , who would the residency director take
there is essentially no difference. No one cares what your preclinical grades are in the great scheme of things. Step 1 already essentially summarizes how your first two years went in a single handy little number.
 
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BamaNicole

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Careful though.....if you ignore your classes you could fail.
You fail and have to remediate you will lose step studying time (depending on when your school does remediation)

You also can't take step unless you pass all your blocks.
 
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getdown

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So consider 2 applicants with similar board scores and EC's. If student A went to pass/fail school and passed everything and student b went to school with letter grades and got mostly B's and C's (never failed a class) , who would the residency director take
They'll take the person that has a good attitude, personable and not an dingus or the one that fits most in their departmental culture. All things being equal I want a co-resident that's not going to slack off and pawn off work on me, fun to be around, and most importantly someone who is reliable and I can trust.

Also, going back to OP's question. My recommendation is to buy the STEP 1 USMLE First Aid book in the beginning of 1st year. For the most part it's not going to mean much for you as the material is presented in a "high yield" format and doesn't provide a lot of background information or explanation. However, if you find the pertinent sections as you progress through your preclinical years and make notes along the margins, etc you can gauge and have a better understanding of what's "important" on STEP1 and to give it extra focus when you're studying for your class exams. Plus you have the added benefit of having class notes on there when you do go back to study for your actual STEP1.
 

Law2Doc

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They'll take the person that has a good attitude, personable and not an dingus or the one that fits most in their departmental culture. All things being equal I want a co-resident that's not going to slack off and pawn off work on me, fun to be around, and most importantly someone who is reliable and I can trust.

Also, going back to OP's question. My recommendation is to buy the STEP 1 USMLE First Aid book in the beginning of 1st year. For the most part it's not going to mean much for you as the material is presented in a "high yield" format and doesn't provide a lot of background information or explanation. However, if you find the pertinent sections as you progress through your preclinical years and make notes along the margins, etc you can gauge and have a better understanding of what's "important" on STEP1 and to give it extra focus when you're studying for your class exams. Plus you have the added benefit of having class notes on there when you do go back to study for your actual STEP1.
I would suggest you wait until second year for first aid. First year is very low yield info for step 1. You should be learning how to study effectively and pass med school tests that year, not studying for boards. yoy have to learn to walk before you run.
 
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getdown

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I would suggest you wait until second year for first aid. First year is very low yield info for step 1. You should be learning how to study effectively and pass med school tests that year, not studying for boards. yoy have to learn to walk before you run.
Oh there's no doubt that first year is really low yield but I do remember that while studying for STEP 1 there was a surprising amount of questions about maltase and fructose deficiency and those types of disease covered during biochem that I kind of glossed over. If I had known it would have come back I would have paid a little more attention to it while studying for the class exam. I'm not advocating for OP to start studying for boards right off the bat but having a resource like First Aide to give you an idea of what amongst the millions of things you'll have to memorize during preclinical years is worth remembering can be quite beneficial.
 

Law2Doc

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Oh there's no doubt that first year is really low yield but I do remember that while studying for STEP 1 there was a surprising amount of questions about maltase and fructose deficiency and those types of disease covered during biochem that I kind of glossed over. If I had known it would have come back I would have paid a little more attention to it while studying for the class exam. I'm not advocating for OP to start studying for boards right off the bat but having a resource like First Aide to give you an idea of what amongst the millions of things you'll have to memorize during preclinical years is worth remembering can be quite beneficial.
Still think it adds a level of stress (worrying about boards) a year earlier than you need to for minimal benefit.
 
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caffeinemia

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I feel like step 1 is decided purely by your confidence, ability to memorize, and time management skills.

Spent 6 week cranking the study machine and it went fine. Spent two years slacking off so I could have fun, best choice.
 

Law2Doc

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I feel like step 1 is decided purely by your confidence, ability to memorize, and time management skills.

Spent 6 week cranking the study machine and it went fine. Spent two years slacking off so I could have fun, best choice.
I think it's a bit person specific. Most people see a bigger advantage if they didn't slack off during med school, learned the material as foundation, such that studying for step 1 was mostly review. The "best choice" for you sounds like a disaster for the 90% of the rest of us out there who benefit from repetitive learning.
 

moisne

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I have a friend who scored super super high (270+). She started studying the fall of her MS2 year around thanksgiving time.

Otherwise, she went for all pass (sometimes she honored but that wasn't her main goal).

But it really depends on your learning style. If you have good long term memory then studying hard during the school year could help. I cannot remember details to save my life more than 3-4 weeks... so I'm planning on cramming the details later.
 

caffeinemia

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I think it's a bit person specific. Most people see a bigger advantage if they didn't slack off during med school, learned the material as foundation, such that studying for step 1 was mostly review. The "best choice" for you sounds like a disaster for the 90% of the rest of us out there who benefit from repetitive learning.
I did learn from repetition. I repeatedly learned the material for six whole weeks. repeatedly. day after day after day. Before that, I repeatedly had fun and repeatedly didn't stress. So that when it came time to sit down and repeatedly concentrate, I wasn't repeatedly banging my head on the table. You are right though - to each his/her own style of learning indeed. Guess this topic has been repeated a couple times :)
 
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The best way to study for step 1 is paying attention in class. You're trying to learn how to be a doctor, not trying to learn how to pass a multiple choice test. I started looking at things for step 1 when I started second year but I mostly focused on class and barely supplemented with pathoma and first aid. I also did a few usmlerx blocks. But the real meat of studying for step 1 occurs in the several weeks you have before the exam because that's when you have enough of a knowledge base to put the information coherently. It's easy to muck your way through school exams and learn a few things here and there. The real hard part comes when you're trying to put the information together and then apply it to patient care
 

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Is STEP 1 anything like the MCAT at all? For the MCAT, I found I needed virtually 0 Organic Chem and only the most basic Biology knowledge to do well. If I had spent the effort that I expended studying for classes on the MCAT instead, I bet I could have easily gotten over 40.

Or is STEP 1 actually very knowledge based and requires knowledge of minute details taught in class?
 

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Is STEP 1 anything like the MCAT at all? For the MCAT, I found I needed virtually 0 Organic Chem and only the most basic Biology knowledge to do well. If I had spent the effort that I expended studying for classes on the MCAT instead, I bet I could have easily gotten over 40.

Or is STEP 1 actually very knowledge based and requires knowledge of minute details taught in class?
Blah blah blah no you couldn't. Getting a 40 is ridiculous. I know of one person who scored above 40. I scored in the high 30s and I have the highest score out of the people I know. Step 1 requires that you know details but more importantly, that you can integrate information and apply it
 
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LuluLovesMe

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Blah blah blah no you couldn't. Getting a 40 is ridiculous. I know of one person who scored above 40. I scored in the high 30s and I have the highest score out of the people I know. Step 1 requires that you know details but more importantly, that you can integrate information and apply it
I studied 3 weeks for 8 hours a day and got a 37. Pretty sure I could get over 40 if that was my primary focus for a period of months.

It sounds like Step 1 is different though.
 

Spector1

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I studied 3 weeks for 8 hours a day and got a 37. Pretty sure I could get over 40 if that was my primary focus for a period of months.

It sounds like Step 1 is different though.
humblebrag much brah?
 

torshi

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Ridiculous plan... If you pay some damn attention you will learn the material, apply it to medicine; hence do well on class exams & Step 1.
 

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First things first, wait until you start medical school, figure out how much you can "blow off" classes just to pass. Plenty of smart people work damn hard to struggle on the tests and only barely make it through.

And take it from someone who tried to start studying First Aid the summer between M1 and M2, that crap is not really made to do initial learning from. It (and all other step review material) is made for med students who have actually taken the classes and are trying to review a boatload of information in a short amount of time. It assumes you've already delved into things more in depth and gives you succinct review facts--it doesn't teach.
 

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First things first, wait until you start medical school, figure out how much you can "blow off" classes just to pass. Plenty of smart people work damn hard to struggle on the tests and only barely make it through.

And take it from someone who tried to start studying First Aid the summer between M1 and M2, that crap is not really made to do initial learning from. It (and all other step review material) is made for med students who have actually taken the classes and are trying to review a boatload of information in a short amount of time. It assumes you've already delved into things more in depth and gives you succinct review facts--it doesn't teach.
I can only imagine trying to go through FA/Goljan before M2... So many words that mean absolutely nothing to you haha
 

cbrons

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Hi folks, I'll be starting medical school in 2016 and I'd like some informed opinions about a strategy some current students mentioned.

Given the heavy weight on board scores, I've learned some students decide to only do the bare minimum to pass their pre-clinical courses, while focusing heavily on studying for Step 1. I know one particular student that was in the bottom quartile of her class, but scored a 260 on Step 1.

Is this a viable strategy? What would the outcome be during residency matches?

I'm interested to hear some thoughts on this.
If your school is pass/fail then yes, sacrificing your class grade for a good step I is definitely worth it since your class grades under said scheme mean absolutely nothing in the long-run.