How to Study From USMLE World Questions

USMLE World question bank is extremely difficult; however, it is the guide for studying for the USMLE and there are so many ways to study from it. Make sure you have a book while you are studying; you shouldn’t study just from the question bank; for Step 1 you should be using the First Aid book and for Step 2 CK it’s usually Master the Boards for Step 2 CK or Step 3. You should always write notes and don’t skip any concept because the information presented on this question bank is gold. For the rest of the post I will concentrate for the Step 1 to keep it simple, but you can use it for other steps as well.
USMLE World Studying
What Notes to Write:
Figuring out what information is important can be a challenging for beginners but the way I see it is if the information is not in the book then I write it. You don’t have to write everything but write only the information that is new to you and not in the book. For example, for USMLE Step 1 looks for these key points for each or every diseases:
– Pathophysiology
– Causes
– Signs and Symptoms
– Associated Diseases
– Tests for diagnosis or Treatment
And example would be for Myasthenia Gravis disease:
  • Pathophysiology: IgG antibodies blocking post receptors in the synaptic cleft, which decreases muscle contraction.
  • Causes: It’s autoimmune so it’s genetic based.
  • Signs and Symptoms: Ptosis and tired at the end of the day. 
  • Associated Diseases: Thymoma; hypoxia from respiratory depression because of the diaphragm muscle movement hindering. 
  • Test for diagnosis: Edrophonium test.
  • Treatment: Acytelcholinesterase (neostigmine, pyridostigmine) blockers because with more acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft, the acetylcholine will outnumber the antibodies.
Most of the information should be in your First Aid for the USMLE Step 1. If you don’t have enough space to write in your First Aid book then get it unbounded at a local office store and put it in a 3 ring binder.
Make sure you write down your notes in your First Aid book next to the topic the question is related to. If you don’t have enough space you should have the book unbounded as mentioned earlier. For me I still didn’t have enough space on my First Aid even after I had it unbounded so I got a more precise pen about 0.5mm to write smaller. But the pen’s ink blots a lot on the book’s pages and messes it up so I first whiteout the area of the page before I write on it and I’m able to write it clearly. I admit that was not the cheapest method, because whiteout tape is expensive and I probably spent over $70, but it worked for me. I was able to take a lot of good clear notes because I used a lot of white out tape. It was beneficial when I studied for Step 1 and it’s beneficial now because you still need your First Aid book with your notes to study for the USMLE Step 2 CK.
If You Get the Question Wrong:
You may feel frustrated or down since you got the question wrong but the wrong questions are the ones, which you will remember so, getting it wrong, is beneficial. Read the entire explanation of the wrong question and write down any notes that are not in the book you are using.
Each wrong answer choices will remind you of a previous concept or point out a new concept. If it’s a new concept then it will be an introduction to a future question that you will see. This is a constant cycle with all the questions, which will help you memorizing and connect the dots with other subjects and systems. The more questions you do the more you will learn and retain the information. However, you have to do the questions in mixed and random mode in order to achieve this.
If You Get the Question Right:
If it’s your first time doing the question bank and just because you got the question right doesn’t mean you should skip going over its explanation. You may get the question right for the wrong reasons and that will harm you during the real exam, that’s why it’s important to go over the question. Follow the same method as you would if you were to get the question wrong, which I mentioned in the previous paragraphs.
Remember this method is very good for going through the USMLE World question bank the first time. If you go through the question bank very first time thoroughly with my method and do this for every single question then you shouldn’t have to write anything at all for the second time and afterwards. After the first round is done, you should take an assessment test. For whichever subject you are weak in, study that subject from First Aid and from your notes. In the second time and afterwards, you should start using DIT.

How I Passed the USMLE Step 1

First of all I thank the Almighty for my success.  I have been holding back from writing this post for a while because it’s so long but I think now was the perfect time to publish it. Through so much hard work I was successful to get a good score for the USMLE Step 1. In my opinion if I can do it then anyone can do it because I graduated in the bottom 10% of my class while attending Bonaire for basic sciences. There are questions people asked me via private messages and I’m going to explain them in detail in this post.  This post is longer than my usual posts so get a cup of coffee and get ready to read away.
Did SJSM Help You?
The answer is they only helped me 5%. The only class I got most out of was Pharmacology. However, majority of the other teachers had no hope for me because they thought I wouldn’t make it through. I remember one teacher would be surprised if out of the blue I would get an A on a test. So I had a lot of challenges in terms of motivation and encouragement from these teachers. I don’t want to disrespect them because they are my elders but they encouraged the students who had it easy in Bonaire. The students who had it easy had money so they could study well and they didn’t have to budget much. Me on the other hand was always worried about money and food so, that hindered my studies. I was called a dork because I would stay home all day because I wanted to catch up but I had a malabsorption problem that negatively affected my studies. The worst part of my illness is that I didn’t know what was going on with me and none of he teachers, who are “doctors” ever bothered to ask me. Luckily I got that taken care of when I came back to America. I had a lot of challenges in Bonaire in terms of finances and that affected me negatively greatly.
What did you use to study for USMLE Step 1?
I used several resources to grasp the medical concept. I had to use multiple items because one tool is better than the other in one subject but not in all subjects. I used the following resources:
– Dr. Najeeb Video Lectures
– Kaplan Medical Video Lectures
– Doctors in Training Video Lectures
– Pathoma
– USMLERx Questions
– USMLE World Questions
– First Aid for the USMLE Step 1
– NBME & USMLE World Assessment Exams
How I used the resources varies on which concept I was weak in. The best learning tool I used was USMLE World question bank. The best memorizing tool would be First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 book with Doctors in Training.
Dr. Najeeb Lectures
I used his lectures to learn various concept, especially immunology. I honestly can say this teacher deserves a place to teach at Harvard Medical School. His teaching style is smooth and easy to understand. He explained things hundred times better than any other teacher. If I knew about his lectures while in Bonaire then I would’ve taken my exam right after AICM.
Kaplan Medical Video Lectures
Kaplan, no doubt, is the ultimate source to study. Kaplan is basically a medical school by itself. If you know Kaplan books inside and out then you should be good. However, in reality not many can memorize the extra nitty gritty details Kaplan Medical teaches you. You should use Kaplan lectures to set your foundation of basic sciences. I used Kaplan Medical video lectures for Physiology and Behavioral Science.
Doctors in Training Video Lectures (DIT)
DIT is a great tool if used correctly. If you follow the way they want you to follow, as in watching and pausing and doing the quizzes then there should not be any reason it would not work for you. But I have to admit it can get very boring, but if you stay firm then you will persevere. DIT should be used at the last moment. I completed DIT 3 weeks before my test. Don’t be deceived that DIT will take two weeks to do; it took me one month to do DIT because I was writing what the lecturer was saying and doing questions. DIT is not for everyone; a lot of people don’t complete the course. DIT was recommended by most of my friends who passed the test so. that’s why I did it.
Pathoma
This course is good to grasp the pathology subject.  This course comes with a book which arrives in 2-3 days if you live in the US and it also comes with a video subscription. Dr. Husain Sattar wrote the book titled, Pathoma, and he explains his book on video lectures which you watch online. You can’t download the videos so it’s better to get a long subscription for this course. I paid $100 for one year course. My subscription is still active, I think it’s up to March of 2013. If you live in Chicago then I’ll sell it for $50 firm in cash and I’ll include the book, which is still in very good shape (book is already sold). Just email me at [email protected] Please note I will not ship the book nor will I accept low ballers.
USMLERx Question Bank
USMLERx(Rx) was useful to pin down First Aid (FA) book because the people who wrote FA created Rx. Rx was used after I went through USMLE World (UWorld) times because the more question you do the better. Rx is not as good as UWorld, but it’s useful in getting familiar with FA. Rx had a lot of errors in terms of spelling and concepts and I recognized them only because I went through UWorld. I’m glad I did Rx because I saw one question, word-for-word on the real exam. I don’t remember the other questions because I was too tired in the later part of the exam.
USMLE World Question Bank
USMLE World (UWorld) is the most important learning tool I have used for the USMLE Step 1. This question bank was a lifesaver. After coming out from Bonaire, and not getting taught jack for paying $4,500 per semester, UWorld made up for it. UWorld should be a book in my opinion but then it would be easier for copyright infringement for those who do it. I never used the pirated copies; I paid for the legit version from the USMLE World Company because you get what you paid for. I used UWorld while I would be waiting for something so I have the UWorld program loaded up on mobile devices. I think I wrote down almost all the educational objectives on my First Aid book. Trust me when I tell you the explanations from UWorld are gold. If you know UWorld inside and out you can do very well on USMLE Step 1.
First Aid for the USMLE Step 1
First Aid for the USMLE Step 1
First Aid (FA) book should be the most important book for your studies for the USMLE Step 1. You should make all the other books secondary and make FA the primary book. I can remember page numbers of certain sections even to this day from FA because I read the book at least ten times. Keep in mind that I didn’t go page by page in order like reading a regular book. I had to flip back and forth in between chapters to have a good study flow. For example, for Henoch Schonlein Purpura is a vascular disease and it’s located in the cardiovascular chapter of FA, but it’s also associated to IgA nephropathy, which is explained in the renal chapter. So you cannot read the book in order like a regular book. I went through FA with Doctors in Training (DIT) course because there’s no way I can sit there and try to figure FA out. Without DIT I would’ve been lost while trying to go over FA.
NBME & USMLE World Assessment Exams
These exams should be used to see where you are at in terms of your strengths and weaknesses. The USMLE World Assessment (UWA) tests are also good too, but they over estimate. There are two versions of UWA tests, but I did only UWA 1 and didn’t do UWA 2 because they said UWA 1 is more accurate. NBME exams are written by the same people who write the USMLE exams so, it’s only logical to take those exams before taking the real thing. You should never go take the exam without doing 2-3 of NBME exams. NBME exams are expensive though; each exam is $50 by itself and $60 with feedback. At the beginning I did NBME 7 but I think NBME 11,12, and 13 are closest to the exam. To get an idea where your USMLE Step 1 score will land on, take the average score of all the NBMEs.
I hope this post helps, at the end of your studies you should be reading First Aid book over and over again while doing at least one block of USMLE World questions per day.

First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 Review

This post should be familiar to you and if you are looking for a way to modify your First Aid for your studies. I know you heard this millions of time, but I’ll say this from my own experience, First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 is a must. I passed the Step 1 with a great score, above the national average, with just remembering the little gritty details from the book and from the notes I wrote down.

Learning from the book is a waste of time. You should not be reading cover-to-cover and trying to learn from it. The First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 is not a learning tool instead, it is a outline for what will most likely be on the test. The First Aid should be used in conjunction with USMLE World question bank. Of course you should memorize the First Aid book cover to cover but only if you learned the materials beforehand. When you understand the medical concept then memorizing it is so much easier. I strongly recommend you go over First Aid book with Doctors in Training after you do one round of USMLE World question bank.

Make sure you get the latest version of the book.  Get the First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2013 version if you are just starting out.  It’s not out yet but you can pre-order it when it comes out in January 2013.

Honestly, I was lost when I was reading the book, but Doctors in Training (DIT) program helped a lot get a good grasp of the materials covered. I will write detailed reviews of DIT and USMLE World question bank in a later post.

I probably read in detail each and every page of First Aid more than ten times. I wrote a lot from USMLE World and other sources. If you look at the pictures you can see that I had I hole punched and ring-binded so it would be easier for me to flip through it. Also, if I needed extra space to write in some information, I can just add ruled paper or if I need to draw a diagram I can add printing paper. Basically, I did what I needed to do in order to fully study comfortably.

First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2013

Overall the First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 is a great book and you should buy the latest version. Also after your purchase, you should go to the First Aid team’s website and go over it’s errata and correct the errors on the book; it’s a hassle I know, but it’s worth your time.

Do your best to understand and memorize all the concepts in the First Aid book, because it has everything you need to get a great score on the USMLE Step 1.