Studying for the USMLE Step 1

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Sunnybunz76, Jul 26, 2001.

  1. Sunnybunz76

    Sunnybunz76 New Member

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    I will be starting my second year of medical school this month and would like to know if anyone has any suggestions on studying for Step 1 of the boards. I would like to start right away. Don't want to be stressed at the last minute. Anybody know of any good books?
     
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  3. Becket

    Becket Senior Member

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    The most important resource is First Aid. If you're really gung ho about getting started, you might want to go start working on the sections that correspond to your first year courses. It might also be a good idea to get BRS Path and use it as a supplement (not a primary source) during your path course. That way, you'll already be familiar with it when it comes down to crunch time. Probably the best advice, though, is to not get too stressed at this point about Step 1. Concentrate on your classes and learning the material. Most people I know didn't start preparing for the Boards until April at the earliest, and most did very well.

    Good luck
     
  4. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    There are LOTS of books out there - the best ones are the ones you USE. Sounds funny I know but there are lots of students who buy endless books but don't actually study very hard with any of them.

    Ones I found useful:

    First Aid
    BRS Path
    Micro Made Ridiculously Simple
    Anatomy Made Ridiculously Simple
    High Yield Neuroanatomy
    High Yield Biostats
    High Yield behavioral Science
    High Yield Histo/Embryo
    Pharm Cards
    Lippincott Biochem
    Lippincott Pharm

    Best of luck!
     
  5. AJM

    AJM SDN Moderator
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    I second Kimberli's list -- those are the same books that I found useful as well. The only differences: I liiked High-yield Anatomy better than Anatomy made Ridiculously Simple, and I would also add BRS Phys to the useful book list.

    Another set of books that I know some people like are Underground Clinical Vignettes. It's a series of about nine small books organized by subject. In each book are discussions of a bunch of diseases related to that subject. They can be a nice break to your regular studying, because it's presented in a different fashion, and can reinforce a lot of what you have studied, but they are definitely not all-inclusive, and I found them relatively low-yield.

    Good luck!
     
  6. sunny9505

    sunny9505 Member

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    I am in the same situation as sunnybunz. Are the High Yield similar to UCV? If so, do you think one is better than the other? And is Step Up the same as First Aid, except done thru a systems approach? Thanks.
     
  7. AJM

    AJM SDN Moderator
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    High Yield is *very* different than UCV. For one, High Yield series are considered to be more along the lines of review books, while UCV series should really only be used as a supplement to your review books. The UCV series is not comprehensive, and the diseases that are discussed are not organized into any coherent order. I would not use the UCV series as your only review books. (If you take a look at them in the bookstore, they're also very small with very large print). So if I were to choose between the two series, I would definitely go with High-Yield, which is in fact, what I did.

    I don't know much about Step Up -- I don't think it was available when I took Boards last year. First Aid is a tried and true book -- it's been used by students for years, and is updated each year. You should get First Aid at the very least. Take a look at Step Up and see if it presents info in the way that you like. Maybe others have had experience with it?
     
  8. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    I'm not familiar with Step Up. I can recommend doing lots of MCQs to get into practice. Probably the best are the Body Systems books - be forewarned they take a LOT of time and they are hard. Much harder than the real thing, IMHO. If you get 65% on these babies you will smoke the Step 1. :D
     
  9. sunny9505

    sunny9505 Member

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    Are the body systems books the Board Simulator series? What is BRS Path? Thanks!
     
  10. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    BRS Path = Board Review Series in Pathology. They have books for every topic.

    The Body Systems Books are not the same as the Board Simulator Series. Check out the Book Reviews at Medschool.com for more info.
     
  11. AJM

    AJM SDN Moderator
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    I'm going to actually disagree with Kimberli on this one. :eek: The Body Systems books are part of the Board Simulator Series. The Body Systems books comprise three of the five total books of the series. The other 2 books are more basic science/biochemistry/genetics type stuff.

    Either way, the questions in them are very difficult, so your score in those books will be much lower than on the actual USMLE. But the answers have great explanations, and the books can really help you out.
     
  12. PimplePopperMD

    PimplePopperMD Senior Member

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    First of all, it is a bit early to start with boards. you'll get bogged down with classes soon, and you'll start feeling pretty bad because you won't have the time to deal w/boards, and so on... give yourself a break!

    A good way to handle it is the following:

    get first aid now.

    in your courses, use first aid, and recognize that it won't be enough to pass your courses. however, it will give you little mnemonics, etc. you can write notes from your courses into your first aid (not too much! but enough to make first aid a little more comprehensive) That way, when you go to your parents house for dinner next month, you don't have to lug Robbins, etc... just your first aid, which will have some ofyour notes. and that will be your primary source for boards.

    Other than that, I agree with the above posters. do all the questions you can. ALL OF THEM. I used kaplan's qbank for a month, before I took the boards last month. it was excellent, and I would recommend it hugely. it's really THAT that I remembered while sitting there, taking the test. not the crappy little nonsense of which chromosome for which disease...

    And beware using too many resources. boards are heavy in pharm, micro, PATH, PATH, and physio/pathophysio. So knowing your histology backwards and forwards is a great thing, but won't help much for boards at all. (again, all this is in first aid. get it!)

    good luck with second year. its more intersting than first!
     
  13. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Oops....thanks for correcting me. I did not realize (and didn't bother to look at my books - which are still in boxes) that they were the same series.
     
  14. Ludy

    Ludy Senior Member

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    Thanks for the book suggestions, everyone. A lot of M3s are selling old books now and I keep seeing "Buzzwords for the Boards" come up on emails. Has anyone used this book? Any advice?
     
  15. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Hmmm....I haven't seen the book but IMHO there are few "buzzwords" on the boards anymore so am not sure that a list of these words would help much.
     
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  17. AJM

    AJM SDN Moderator
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    My roommate had some of the Buzzwords books when she studied for Boards, but I don't think she used them... I don't know anything else about them, though.
     
  18. AJM

    AJM SDN Moderator
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    Wait, I forgot -- is Buzzwords one book? Well, my roommate had that book then. :) The best book that goes over key points, mnemnonics, etc, though, is First Aid for the USMLE Step 1. In the back of that book, it also reviews all of the major Board review books. You might want to take a look at it before you start buying too many books that you might not use.
     
  19. doughboy

    doughboy Senior Member

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    I had the book "Buzzwords for the Boards", its kind of a nice book to flip through while you're sitting on the can or have an extra minute here or there. Its basically a book full of little questions in all the different subjects. I wouldn't recommend it as part of your "hardcore" studying. I enjoyed the "Step Up" review book, its a great complement to "First Aid". Its more detailed and gives larger explanations and great charts. Plus, it has a pharm list at the end which has MOA, side effects, and special notes on each drug. Well worth the 30 bucks. I did the Board Simulator Series and they definitely were tough. Kind of made you depressed doing them because you get so many wrong. However, the answer explanations are like a textbook in itself and were detailed. They do take a tremendous amount of time to complete. I didn't think the Underground Clinical Vignettes were very helpful. I wouldn't recommend paying 130 bucks for the set. I would recommend you learn your course material during the school year well so when it comes time to review for the boards you have a good foundation and you won't have to "relearn" those subjects. If you completely memorize First Aid, you'll definitely pass the boards, but how high you'll score will depend on how much more you study after that. I agree with above posters to do as many sample questions as you can. Plus, get a good grasp on physiology especially endocrine. There were a good amount of biostats and a lot of charts that you had to interpret on my exam. The anatomy was minimal, embryo was minimal, histology was minimal(most answers you could get from the question and the slide was more supplementary), neuroscience was basic stuff, pharm, path, and phys were the big 3.
     

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