Using multiple resources for step 1

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Jan 4, 2015
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I am 8 months away from step 1 but I have been studying the relevant material with class. I've been using pathoma, first aid, Goljan and BRS physiology for every systems class. Is this overkill in terms of resources? A lot of people here say resource overload is a big mistake and to stick with one resource.

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Dec 6, 2011
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an excellent earlier post (below) that you might find interesting...the underlining/emphases below are mine...

(an opinion: there is NO QUESTION that you will narrow some number of questions down to 2 choices and have to make a best guess what they are getting at...the ability to read and intuit might be as important as factual after post here affirms that nobody can "know" all of the right answers. But hey, when you are treating patients, you also can never know everything.)

As to prep sources, the "legend down under" Phloston (low 260's) said that he never looked at Pathoma...seems like he (and surely others) felt that Goljan was too dense/abstruse (overkill).

Many find DIT a good way (depending on your learning style) to methodically absorb FA.

NOBODY questions the efficacy of sedulously doing UW q's, and then focusing on those you missed to know WHY.

I have seen MANY posts here where very high scorers had only 2-3 sources (and often said that 2-3 were enough), and other posts where people wished they had limited their prep to 2-3. Nobody seems to question that attentiveness during your preclinical term is huge. I know someone VERY WELL who made ~ a 260 using only DIT, FA and UW questions. She found the UWSE to be VERY close to predicting the actual result. She also felt that clinicals helped her and felt that at least some questions were simply unfair in that you could not have known them without having done clinicals as they do at her school for about a year before taking Step 1.

Do your workouts/breaks...take your energy food...take your is critical...some prefer to chill the day before. If you tend to get hyper (insomnia) before big tests, consider a pretested sleep aid.

Not to spook you, but arguably this will likely be the most important test of your life, given your goal of practicing medicine. You can retake the MCAT, e.g., but NOT the Step.

Oh, FWIW, there is only about a 30% correlation between the MCAT and the Step 1 scores (American medical schools). Understand, 60% of those who take the MCAT never sit for the Step because they do not get into medical school. Your 33 MCAT is 90th percentile among all who sit for the MCAT, but only the top 40% among them then get into an American medical school.


score: 274

3rd year MD/PhD student who finished med school coursework in December and did surgery and medicine rotations before taking a month to study for Step 1. Took the exam on July 19th and got score on Wed.

More than anything, I think that working as hard as I could during the first 18 mo of med school prepared me for the Step 1. During Fall 2 I began doing a lot of practice questions, getting through all of Robbins Review of Path and splitting a 12 mo subscription of uworld between 4 classmates and using it to study for coursework. I got through all of Uworld by December of Fall 2 w/ an average of about (70-80%).

Having my medicine rotation immediately before Step 1 also helped me quite a bit for a subset of questions. I began studying in mid-June, went through First Aid once, skimmed Goljan and got through all of Uworld again (93%), did all practice NBME pdfs and took the online NBME 15 (271). I consistently missed about 8-15 q's on the NBMEs.

I felt that the test was more difficult than I expected w/ a lot of questions (> 50) that required me to use my intuition to solve them. With these questions, having First Aid in front of you would not have helped one bit. It was really my experience reading through clinical vignettes and working hard during my first 2 yrs of med school that helped me. I know that I missed at least 15 q's, and probably closer to 25 q's. Coming out of the Step 1, I thought that I had underperformed and would score somewhere in the mid-250s. I was pretty shocked when I got my score.

Different people have success studying in different ways, I went through a lot of medical texts during my first two years of med school because i got sick of memorizing facts off of powerpoints. My advice to all test takers is to try to start doing practice problems early on, figure out the style of these questions, and use them to fine tune your studying, learning which facts and concepts are the most important. Use Uworld and other practice questions to learn material, not just as a tool to check your proficiency.

Good luck everyone!


from same person just above:

I had 4wks to study and I began by doing about 100 UW q's/day and getting through FA and Goljan RR. I can't really say that Goljan helped too much as I had already developed a very strong Path background during Fall 2 and the new facts presented in Goljan were a bit excessive. I would however recommend going over the intro to path chapters such as inflammation and tissue repair in Goljan or Pathoma because those subjects are the highest yield. Although a lot of the ideas seem pretty simple on the surface, they expect you to know the details of the proteins involved in inflammation and tissue repair.

During the last 2 wks, I broke up the nbme's so that I was doing one every other day as I continued to get through Goljan and FA subject by subject and finish up the UW q's. During the last 2 days I reviewed the UW q's that i missed and reviewed some of the trickier FA chapters such as biochem and ID. I was a little bit frustrated that I didn't have enough time to review all of the FA as I wanted to during the day leading up to the exam, but in hindsight it would not have made a difference. I think I would recommend doing a lot of q's the last day just to get you in the exam mindset. Maybe go over a chapter or two in FA, but no need to overdo it.
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