Question Based Studying for the USMLE Step 1

As promised, I will write in detail on the USMLE Step 1. These tips that I write is for helping you all. I already passed this phase so this is based on my experiences. USMLE Step 1 is back to basics where you have to know the detail concepts of things that you may not have to remember during clerkships. I already signed up for a question bank for Step 2 CK and it seems less stressful than USMLE Step 1. However, it seems trickier than USMLE Step 1 as there are more than one good answer. For the USMLE Step 2 CK they test you on what is the “best” answer out of all the good answers. So, it seems to be more memorization based then concept based, but correct me if I’m wrong.
Image from Google Images
Anyways, going back to the main topic of this topic, doing questions after questions is a key method in covering all angles of the USMLE Step 1 test. Don’t worry about USMLE Step 2 CK for now, as you need to pass Step 1 first.
For the USMLE Step 1, I regret not doing enough questions. I did all of USMLE World questions 2.5 times and half of USMLERx questions. There are about 3000 USMLERX questions and about 2100 USMLE World questions with a total of 3600 unique questions. I wish I finished USMLERx questions as doing more question helps grasp the concepts better. However, USMLE World is the best Qbank, which I think, is a must and to fully penetrate the medical concepts, one should add a second question bank. If you have time then add a third question bank; the more questions you do the better but keep in mind USMLE World is the best and it’s a must.
A secondary question bank helps because they present with different questions, which can present the medical concept in an alternate view to better understand it.
So, at the end of the day, just keep doing questions. Do not neglect questions, especially USMLE World questions. Also, keep First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 by your side as it should be read often with questions.

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.

What to Use to Study Anatomy Efficiently

The subject of Anatomy, to me, seems very boring, dry, and sometimes hard because of the boring nature of the subject. Unfortunately, the question banks don’t really give enough images to fully grasp the anatomical figures in the questions. You probably heard that Anatomy subject is low-yield, but don’t count on it. The Anatomy subject should be given a good amount of attention, especially CT scans. Neuroanatomy is very high-yield and you should be familiar with the overall picture of the brain. Questions can give you a scenario of a dysfunction of a patient, and they may ask you which part of the brain contains the nucleus that is damaged that caused the dysfunction.

3D Human Anatomy Atlas 2 by Visible Body; it is a software for both PC and Mac. It’s also an app which is also available for iPhone and iPad users on the Apple App Store and Android users on Google Play store.. The App is incredible and it’s one of the top-rated medical app on the Apple App Store. If you don’t have a tablet, you can still get the computer-based software; however, navigating via a tablet makes things more efficient. The software allows you to rotate the anatomical figures in 360 degrees position so you can see the anatomical figure in all angles. Also if you have an organ or tissue that is blocking the view of your target anatomical structures then you can either fade is or hide it from view. The app also allows you to take screen capture and share it with others. I used the software to draw out the figure for a previous post, Adrenal Glands – First Aid for the USMLE Step 1. If you have the iPad with retina display, the app takes advantage of the sharp display and shows it with incredible precision. The app costs about $40 for the iPad; I’m not sure about the prices for other platforms. When I bought a MacBook Pro with a student discount, I was given a $100 Apple gift card, which I used to buy the app.

Anyways, studying anatomy just from pictures is hard, and I prefer to study smart not hard so, I invested the money in getting what I need to study better. I recommend 3D Human Anatomy Atlas 2 by Visible Body for everybody, especially for people who are visually oriented learners. This study tool worked for me, but I can’t guarantee that it’ll work for you, but try it and see.