Steps on How to Study for the USMLE Step 1

I got a lot of emails of where to study and how to study for the USMLE Step 1. It’s basically the same questions being asked over and over again so I’m going to give you an outline of how to study for this test. A lot of you are lost on how to study and what you need to do in order to get your self on the straight path. So please read this post carefully and try to understand each step. Please consider these points:
  • Dr. Najeeb Videos
    Understanding your basics sciences foundation the first step. That means you should know what is what for every subject. For example, the definitions of every little things such as pancreatitis, which is the inflammation of the pancreas. You should know the -itis at the end means inflammation of any thing like hepatitis, cholcystitis, etc. My best source would be Dr. Najeeb’s Videos hands down. Some of you asked if you should watch every one his video and my answer is going to be yes if you don’t understand anything. Dr. Najeeb’s videos are extremely slow and long and it’s frustrating but you can speed it up, but you should have to watch only once. And please take notes whenever you watch videos. For Behavioral Science only I strongly recommend Kaplan Videos. For the pathology subject, use pathoma by Dr. Husain Sattar. 
  • First Aid for the USMLE Step 1
    This book should always be next to you. DO NOT try to read it by yourself. Use the latest version of order it online if you are too lazy to go the book store.
  • USMLE World Question Bank
    This question bank for the USMLE Step 1 is extremely important for you to get. There is no way around it. It is the golden question bank but you need to not only understand your basic foundation but also applying it.
  • NBME Exams
    It’s very important that you take these exams to see where you are. These tests will tell you how well you know your basic foundation knowledge. I also recommend you try the USMLE World assessment exams which is available on the USMLE World website; their assessment exams are very good also.
My method and steps on studying for the USMLE Step 1:
  1. Watch the medical videos, which I recommended, and take notes.
  2. Go through DIT videos to understand  First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 book and take notes.
  3. Do USMLE World question bank in mixed, timed, and random mode. Go over every single questions, right or wrong, and take notes on everything. Write those notes in your First Aid book. If you don’t have enough space in your First Aid book then take it to the nearest Office Depot and get them to unbind it and put it in a 3 ring binder like how I did.
  4. Take an NBME exam. Usually start out doing NBME version 11 and higher. Look at what subjects you are weak in and go over that subject until you understand it.
  5. Go through DIT videos again but this time do USMLE World question bank simultaneously. For example, if you do DIT videos in the morning, then do a block of USMLE World question bank in the afternoon and go over them. This should be your second time doing both DIT and USMLE World question bank. Make sure you always do the questions mixed, timed, and random mode.
  6. After finishing both DIT and USMLE World questions, take another NBME exam, but a different version of the exam. You should be improving. Also, now do USMLE World Assessment Exam version 1.
  7. Now do USMLE World question bank one more time in mixed, random, and timed. You should be scoring above 70% by now. If you are still weak in a certain subject then go over that, now you should just be memorizing from the First Aid book.
  8. Take another NBME exam and USMLE World Assessment Exam version 2. Make sure your NBME score predicts your score to be above the national average which is 221+.
You may disagree on my studying steps, but that’s how I did it. And when you follow my steps, make sure you give it time because there is no shortcut to this. You have to give it time and you have to understand the concepts first. If you need to ask certain questions, please ask me your question on the comment box below and please put your name down. Asking your question in the comment box will help others with their answers, thanks.

Doctors In Training USMLE Step 1 Review

Ok so I got a glimpse of what DIT is all about.  I saw some of the video tutorial and honestly I don’t think it’s all that.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s very helpful, but at the same time you definitely need other sources to study for the USMLE Step 1.

What is Doctors In Training
Doctors In Training (DIT) is basically another review course for the USMLE Step 1.  It’s headed by a young doctor, Dr. Brian Jenkins, he is the one who started the training course.  DIT is taken mostly by American Medical Students of Texas, because that’s where it was started.  DIT is obviously not as big as Kaplan Review or Falcon Review, in terms of enrollment but based on students who took the course, it’s effective. 

What Makes DIT Different from Other USMLE Step 1 Review Courses?
Dr. Jenkins, in the video, goes through the USMLE Step 1 First Aid Kit book.  He goes through explaining the concepts and what the student doctors need to focus on.  DIT also includes weekly emails containing quizzes based on what was taught.  I’m not familiar with that so I can’t comment about the quizzes.

My Opinion
No doubt that USMLE Step 1 First Aid Kit is the first choice for a guide to studying for the USMLE Step 1, but only with other supplement sources.  I recommend you sign up with DIT if you want an easier way to go through First Aid; you should go over the book several times before jumping in to QBank questions.  I’m in contact with a 4th year student from SJSM aka Dr.Bill; he is also the author of the blog USMLE First Aid.

Benefits of Medical Video Lectures

Reading medicine is no fun, I can tell you that from experience, but 70% of the time you have to read in order to comprehend the medical concepts.

The USMLE is no joke, and you shouldn’t just pass the test, but also get a high score. I have spoken to some students and they found that USMLE Kaplan videos, DIT videos, and PASS videos help a lot not only for class, but also for the preparation for the boards. While doing your basic sciences you should get a hold of these videos, which gives a video lecture on all the subjects tested for the USMLE. I found this web site which sells these videos with everything included. The Kaplan videos are in digital format on a hard drive for $249; the PASS program videos are $99. What’s so great about these videos is that you can pause, think, and learn. You can learn medical concepts at your own pace; if you miss something while the instructor is lecturing in the video, then you can go back to what he/she said. Check out the following videos.

Doctor’s In Training (DIT) Intro
This is from the DIT website. The CEO of DIT gives a detailed info about their teaching plans.

Kaplan Medical Video (Pharmacology Sample Video)
I found this online, and it’s a little part of the Pharmacology course series.


Falcon Review
(Updated 05/09/10)

In my opinion I would prefer DIT or Kaplan videos over Falcon because with Falcon videos there too many objects in the screen to get distracted with. With DIT or Kaplan it’s simple straight forward so you can focus.