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Studying for classes vs Step 1? Which is more important?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Squirmish, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. Squirmish

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    Due to some personal issues, I'm barely passing 2 of my classes. There are still 2 exams and finals so there's plenty of opportunities to bring my grade up or down. However, I'm scheduled to take Step 1 this summer. My original plan was to start preparing for Step 1 pretty soon by going over First Aid, reading some review books (BRS, etc), and doing qbanks (100 ?s a week). I'm not sure if I'm going to have time for all this because I need to haul a** for those 2 classes.

    My school administers these mandatory "check point" practice Step 1 exams where we have to take practice exams monthly and if we do bad, we're called to an adviser and it becomes an ordeal. That's one reason why I wanted to start studying for Step 1 early. I also wanted to because I'm a mediocre student so I thought I would need the extra time to go over material. I'll be ecstatic with a 220.

    But, I guess there's no point in studying for Step 1 if I can't even pass my classes. My school only gives us a few weeks to study for Step 1 when school finishes so I can't wait for all of my classes to end to start studying.

    Thanks in advance for any advice! :)
     
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  3. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse
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    Why can't you study for both? :confused:

    The information that you'll be learning for those classes will likely show up, in some form, on Step 1. By learning it well NOW, you don't need to re-learn it later when you're about to take Step 1.

    Besides...

    EXACTLY.
     
  4. Doctor4Life1769

    Doctor4Life1769 **tr0llin, ridin dirty**
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    I'm in a similar boat, school only gives a few weeks time off after M2 before rotations start. I, however, have not had issues regarding barely passing (last semester did reasonably well). I'm by no means a stellar student. We were forced to take a Kaplan diagnostic and I'm pretty sure I bombed the sucker.

    How should one go about studying for boards and still effectively study for class? I know you say do both, but I tend to have a tendency of forgetting information once a new system has started. I know I have to spend all 6 months studying pretty intensely for the boards to do well -- like I said, I'm a decent student, nothing special with improved grades every semester -- and I'd definitely like to have at least good board scores to overcome average class grades.

    Thanks for any and all advice!
     
  5. njbmd

    njbmd Guest
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    You have to pass your coursework to even be eligible to take Step I and that should be your first priority. Studying the material for your courses should not be counter to Step I because Step I tests the material that you should have learned in your coursework. If you have learned your coursework material, then you should be able to review for Step I (i.e. not have a totally new learning experience for this exam).

    Your diagnostic tests should give you an idea of where to put your Step I study emphasis as they should point out your weaker areas but trying to go through review books for Step I at the expense of actually learning the material for coursework mastery will put you doubly "behind the eight ball". Master your coursework first. If your coursework is "tight", then review for Step I will be more efficient.
     
  6. Mobius1985

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    Check your school's rules for starting clerkships. Some require you to have taken the Step I before beginning, but others allow you to delay it indefinitely (an acquaintance of mine just took it for the first time in 12/08), and others don't require it at all, feeling it's the student's responsibility to take the test to qualify for residency placement. As a thought: If you have any vacation time in your third year, maybe you could negociate with the administration to delay the start of your clerkships so you have two more months to study before taking it. It's in their best interests to agree, as they want to have good stats on first-time pass rates.
     
  7. silas2642

    silas2642 silas2642
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    Well, you're a second year so studying for class is kind of studying for boards. Flunking your coursework certainly isn't an option because that looks really bad to program directors. I would definitely try to both at the same time-- haul azz in your coursework and look at first aid and board review books while you're studying your coursework so that you know what the high yield material is.

    When are you scheduled to take the boards?
     
  8. Doctor4Life1769

    Doctor4Life1769 **tr0llin, ridin dirty**
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    Yeah, I know what you mean. My school won't allow us to do rotations until our boards have been taken (and ultimately passed).

    I'm pretty much just studyin hard during class (whatever is currently being covered, using review books and lecture and writing in main points in the review book(s)). After class I'm just gonna be doing board review of older material. Hopefully it works out, way to go school!
     
  9. Squirmish

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    My school's policy is that we must take Step 1 before we start rotations, which start in the beginning of July. My exam is scheduled mid-June.

    My school doesn't give vacation during 3rd year except for a couple a weeks off before certain rotations otherwise I'd definitely take the vacation time to study for Step 1.
     
  10. carn311

    carn311 Dead tired.
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    I'd be interested to here how other people make the time for Step I prep.

    I've tried and can manage to get 30min to an hour 3 times a week. But I cant even manage that as I get closer to tests and it breaks my continuity not doing it for 2 weeks. So I start to feel like there's no point in trying.
     
  11. Zanegray

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    I would study for your classes. It will help you in Step I if you are not trying to study totally new material. Plus, you can study for step I in a focused manner later on and 6 or 8 weeks, while tortuous, will do.

    I am now a fourth year. I did average in all my classes and this strategy worked for me. I seem to be still pretty competitive for my chosen field (EM).

    As someone else mentioned you may be able to push back your test. You could consider a research month too, which will be good for residency apps later on and you can spend part time studying.

    Feel free to PM me if you have questions. good luck!:luck:
     
  12. leahmaria

    leahmaria Senior Member
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    I have by no means figured this out yet, but I bought UW and I calculated that if I do 15/day, I'll have gone through it once by May 8, when our finals are done and boards prep time begins. I'm sticking to the topics that we've covered in path already, and it's been good review of all of the anatomy/etc from first year that goes along w/ what I'm learning now. Over spring break, I plan to take one of their assessments.

    I haven't yet decided how to build anything else in w/ my current class studying, but I do the 15 questions in sets of 5, and it's a nice break from my studying...kind of fun.
     
  13. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    I've cracked open my QBank and noticed a good degree of overlap between the content covered in my classwork and what's in there. My immediate boards prep strategy is to excel in my coursework, that way it will all be in my long-term memory once I get to May and have time to study solely for Step I.

    Once things get closer, I'll crack out the M1 material and see if I can't start integrating some of that too.
     
  14. suizyme09

    suizyme09 I haz a flavor
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    Hey I'm going to be starting Med school in the fall and I wanted to ask if anyone has knowledge about this book based on experience?

    Also, does anyone recommend studying prep books for step1 alongside class work in the first and second year that they relate to as early exam prep or would that be a waste of time? My plan as of now is to pick up a couple good subject books and study them alongside my other study materials for each class. I have no experience (naturally) with medical school so I don't know if that is just TOO much studying when I'm already preparing for section exams every couple weeks.

    Let me know if anyone has any thoughts please!:)
     
  15. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    I use this book.

    It's good to think of it as an outline and it does a good job highlighting high yield points, but it's not a textbook. More of a guide that can serve to jog your memory for things you should have learned. I'll pull it out the morning of a test and flip through it to review if I'm trying to kill time.

    Not sure how I'll integrate it into my boards prep, but I'm thinking there shouldn't be anything in there I don't know by the time I'm done.



    Is it worth having as a 1st year? I think so. You might get the newest year's version that comes out before boards if you're truly neurotic, but like I said... it's a good review/checklist and I would have found it useful if I had a copy last year.

    shameless plug for my own review of the book (note, it's probably a little outdated since I've used it much more since writing the review)
     
  16. spospo

    spospo Going to extremes
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    I feel that Depakote addressed FA well enough. In terms of other subject books (such as the BRS series, HY, etc), these are similar to FA in that they aren't meant to be the main source that you learn from. They too are sort of meant to jog your memory. Now, I'll admit that sometimes I learn from these books (depending on our professor), but really most of the review books are simply...reviews. It is up to you to fill in the gaps. It is good though to get acquainted with a series or a group of books you like during your courses so that it is easy to integrate in to your studying for Step 1 some years down the road.
     
  17. themudphud

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    Focus on your classes. Get your grades up and then start easing back into studying for step I. As long as you can't get held back for not passing the practice step I exams at your school, then just deal with the consequences. Whatever. Even a few weeks to study for step I (if that's all you have) can work. You just have to hit it hard. I took 4 weeks off to study for step I and I was ready to flip out by the end of the third week.
     
  18. suizyme09

    suizyme09 I haz a flavor
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    Thanks guys I appreciate the feedback!

    So would you say it would be useful to get FA and maybe few subject books and study them as companions to course packets/required medical texts? I mean useful for the course as well as the USMLE? Or just useful to keep the boards in mind during the science years and start review early?
     
  19. TMP-SMX

    TMP-SMX Senior Member
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    Different people have different ways of attacking this. The problem with having too many books is you don't have enough time for everything. (Especially with anatomy). Anyway, if your school is heavily notes-based for exams then concentrate on that. However, you can easily spend a day reading through BRS (Board Review Series) for each subject relevant to the exam. I started doing it for second year and I truly believe it saved me for a few of my exams. It clarifies concepts which is something much more important for second year than first year gross anatomy. So with anatomy there isn't much way around it but I guess for your written anatomy exams you should know the clinical concepts like nerve lesions which can be hard to teach in a lecture or in notes.
     
  20. eyesarecool

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    Reminds of me a friend in highschool who was failing English due to the fact that he wouldn't memorize vocabulary words. He was spending all of his time studying some book about good words to use for the essay on the SAT. :rolleyes:
     

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