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TO: Current 3rd/4th years and beyond...

Discussion in 'Step I' started by kdburton, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. kdburton

    kdburton Ulnar Deviant 5+ Year Member

    Sep 3, 2005
    FYI: Based on 99% of the posts I've read I know that its too early to start studying for the boards. Thats not the purpose of this post. I'm just looking to get some advice - yes, in advance - from more senior students about next year. With that said, please spare me any [email protected] responses that will cause this thread to take a turn off course into a debate about gunnerism and StepI

    If you could go back and give advice to yourself just before you started your 2nd year of medical school what would it be? I'm specifically interested in board prep... I'm between MS1 and MS2 now and I'm not going to start studying this summer by any means, but I'd like to be set up in an optimal position come 2nd year to do well on the boards. If that means that I should buy X, Y and Z books, flashcards or video/audio before the year starts and begin using them from the beginning, or it it means I should purchase USMLE-like question sets and complete them along with my modules then I'd like to know about it. Or even if it just means assessing my strengths/weaknesses and coming up with a study schedule to begin at some point next year, I'd be interested in hearing about that as well... So for those of you who have taken Step 1 and wish they could now go back and tell themselves what worked, what didn't work, or what they wish they would or wouldn't have done in terms of what resources to use, what timeline to follow, etc. it would be much appreciated if you could share your thoughts. I'm sure other people in my position are wondering the same thing. Thanks!
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  3. Ashers

    Ashers Bacteria? Don't exist. Physician Faculty 10+ Year Member

    Apr 5, 2006
    Land of Entrapment
    M2 year is the stuff that counts the most. Focus on your classes; learn it well the first time, and you won't have to study it as much in depth as maybe stuff like devo or biochem.

    I didn't specifically study for step 1 until after finals, however, I put DAYS in to review pharm for finals, and some time for path. Therefore, I spent less time on pharm and path reviewing than I would've had I not studied as well during the year, and I could focus on stuff from M1 year like biochem, devo, neuro and anatomy.

    I bought questions early, but I didn't touch them until after finals.

    I did well on step 1.
  4. Droopy Snoopy

    Droopy Snoopy 7+ Year Member

    Apr 3, 2006
    The Alamo
    I would buy qbank a little earlier and try to do things at a more moderate pace. Our school bout a 2-month subscription for us, but if I'd bought an extra month and really focused on setting a 25 questions a day pace early on I could've gotten through the bank easily and focused more on other resources.

    Basically though you've been through a year of med school already, so you know what works and doesn't for you. Hit the ground running and study for retention particularly in Path and Pharm. Board prep is oh so much easier when you're seeing things for the fourth or fifth time instead of the second or third.
  5. Dakota

    Dakota Senior Member Physician 10+ Year Member

    Sep 5, 2005
    Read through First Aid and BRS path along with your classes. Learn the material well for class, make sure there are no gaping holes in your school's curriculum, worry about the boards in earnest after your last exam.
  6. njbmd

    njbmd Guest Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    May 30, 2001
    Gone Walkabout!
    Moved to the Step I Forum
  7. osli

    osli Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Oct 13, 2005
    Seconded... though you can substitute RR for BRS path if you prefer, or substitute Kaplan MedEssentials or another all-in-one board review book for FA if you're just dying to.

    And I don't think the point is necessarily to "memorize" everything in those resources, though they may certainly help you in your regular coursework (especially RR Path). The goal should be to be very familiar with those two books come board prep time, as that is where the meat of your exam will come from. If you know exactly what is in FA and RR/BRS and what is not, and are comfortable with that then you are a step ahead. Part of board prep for many people is going through FA once just to figure out where it is strong and where it is weak, so that they can start the process of annotating other sources into it and then really focusing on retaining details for the exam.

    Thus your focus should be on knowing those two books very well (again not memorized, just knowing exactly what is in there). If nothing else, it will be a comforting feeling to know that the vast majority of what will be on your exam will be in those two books (if you have a solid foundation). Many people are overwhelmed with the prospect of having a dozen seemingly high yield board review books and a two foot tall stack of class notes, and not knowing where to start, what to toss out, what is important, etc. Knowing RR and FA well should help you realize that there is some limit to the scope of the exam (as broad as that scope may be... it isn't quite infinite).

    Beyond that, if you're really gunning, then as you go through RR Path and FA along with your coursework, you can annotate things that aren't explained well or that you think are missing. Most people wait until serious board prep time for this, and the danger of starting that process early is that during your second year everything seems important (since school exams tend to hit more obscure details) and you will have the temptation to write lots of superfluous details in there and clutter it up, and then come board prep time it will be more difficult to focus on the meat.

    Finally, I wouldn't start a question bank too early, unless you just think that will help with your school exams and/or one is available free. You're likely to forget the details contained in those questions months out from the exam anyway. I won a 3 month subscription to Kaplan's qbank about 6 months out from my test, finished around half of it, and though I thought I was learning stuff at the time I can't honestly say that at this point it would have made one bit of difference whether I had done those questions or not. At the most, I think it made me aware of where some of my weaknesses were, though I didn't need to miss qbank questions to know that.

    Most importantly, study hard and do well your second year. It's easy to get caught up in "memorizing details" so you can do well on the exam, especially with such a ridiculous volume of information. Make sure you have covered yourself for grades however you manage that, but then try to focus on really understanding this stuff and putting it into a larger framework. Probably the easiest way to make that happen is to take the time to read sources that aren't just lists of facts (like class notes and review books) that you feel like you have to memorize, but rather sources that are interesting to you in a novel-ish kind of way. Subscribe to NEJM or other medical journals (lots of gold to be found there... the clinical case reviews are especially good for board prep mentality). Find some sort of primary text on path that you actually find interesting. Spend time on wikipedia or surfing the web for medically-related information that is interesting to you. The point being to find ways to learn that really makes the stuff migrate to long term memory... not just short term for a school exam.

    You can probably remember tons of details from your favorite movie... and I'm sure it wasn't because you were tested on it the next week or had to write a book review on it. We remember things that we find interesting... find a way to really make this stuff interesting to you and you will be miles ahead.
  8. kdburton

    kdburton Ulnar Deviant 5+ Year Member

    Sep 3, 2005
    Thanks for the replies everyone... keep them coming. In the mean time hopefully this thread gets moved back into the Allo forum where it belongs since the intended target reader I was going for is people who have already taken Step 1

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