10+ Year Member
Dec 16, 2008
Medical Student
Ok, so first proper post, here goes :p

So reading through the posts, I'm under the impression that there are broadly two types of textbooks, namely the reference books (big thick books you can use to teach yourself) and the review books (FA, Goljan, BRS etc) and you're supposed to use the review books alongside your own coursework.

I am however, very slow and have had trouble keeping up with the lectures throughout first year so I used to end up relying on the reference books rather then USMLE books. I wanted to use the 'USMLE books' but quite often, they wouldn't have much meaning to me because they seemed (to me at least) to leave big gaps in between. There is often a lag between when I get taught something and when I actually can follow a USMLE review book.

How should I address this in the coming year? Should I have been annotating my Goljan using my Robbins for instance throughout the year for example?

Few more specific questions to finish off -
1) What books do you actually need to annotate (and why), when do you start this process.

2) How many times did you end up reading essential books like FA, Goljan, BRS physiology etc from cover to cover?

Thanks in advance!


10+ Year Member
Nov 12, 2007
Attending Physician
1)Annotate from your question source (UWorld, QBank, etc) or from another review book. Annotate FA, and maybe RR Path. If you are annotating from anywhere else, likelyhood is that it is too detailed for the test, and won't benefit you. So start annotating when you start doing questions. One thing that might be helpful, which I do, is cross reference FA. I.e. if you are reading something in Robbins, and see where it is in FA, you can always just jot down the page number of Big Robbins into FA. That way you can just re-read the section you higlighted. That way you won't clutter FA with unnecessary info, but will still get the benefit of linking the two.

2)Their may be people who read books cover to cover, but not me. I probably read Goljan 2.5 times, some sections more times than other. FA probably 3 times through. BRS 2 times. Its piecemeal though, and no point in wasting your time counting if you've read it or not. More important is if you understand it, in which case re-reading is not necessary (except to refresh your memory).
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