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.

Organizing to Study for the USMLE Step 2 CK

The USMLE Step 2 CK is not as easy as you may hear. You may have heard that the hardest part is USMLE Step 1, that could be partly correct but it’s not totally accurate. Studying for the Step 2 CK is not the challenging part, the challenges is finding the right resources. For the USMLE Step 1, USMLE World and First Aid was all you need at the end once you established the basic science foundation. But for the USMLE Step 2 CK, you cannot rely on just one source. You actually need more than USMLE World for Step 2 CK. What’s frustrating is each source has its positives and negatives and so you need multiple sources to cancel out the positives. For example, you could use the book Step Up to Step 2 for the conceptual things, but for what is the next step in management you will need Master the Boards books. For Master the Boards you need both books for Step 2 CK and for Step 3. A lot of the information is missing in the Step 2 CK version, which is on the Step 3 book.
Honestly, it’s just an incredible challenge to balance rotations and studying everything well enough for the USMLE Step 2 CK. However, if you have the will you have the way so, study hard.
In Addition
You should also make sure you have your First Aid for the USMLE Step 1.  You will need it to look back for references.

Happy New Year

As we start the new 2013 year, I just like to say thank you to all my readers for giving me input on my writings. Your comments and emails means a lot even if you were asking questions. Your comments have motivated me to keep on writing and recording all that I see and experience in my journey to be a medical doctor.
So what have I been doing?
Well I just completed a pediatric elective rotation. It wasn’t too bad but it was a wake up call from my previous experience of studying 12 hours a day for the USMLE Step 1. Now what I learn in clinical clerkship, I can use that to study for the USMLE Step 2 CK. I bought Step Up to Medicine book and also I bought a subscription to USMLE World for Step 2 CK. I’m still wondering if I should buy Step Up to Step 2 or the latest edition of Master the Boards USMLE Step 2 CK. I’m going on forums and asking my senior medical students which one is the best and apparently they give me mixed answers. Unlike USMLE Step 1 where First Aid and USMLE World question bank is all you need at the end, for USMLE Step 2 it’s all over the place.
Unfortunately, a lot of things are changing and USMLE World question bank isn’t going to be enough. I think Kaplan question bank will have to be added and it makes sense, the more questions you do the better prepared you will be.
Saint James School of Medicine Rotations

My overall view of SJSM is very good so far in terms of clinical clerkship. Basic science in Bonaire wasn’t so good because it’s basically teachers reading off the slides. On top of that the Indian teachers in Bonaire showed favoritism, which wasn’t fair.
Clinical clerkships are not under the authority of Saint James School of Medicine office. Of course you have to go through SJSM to get clerkship but once you start your clerkship, you are then under the authority of the doctor you are assigned to. I learned a lot under the doctor I was assigned to. Her PA also taught me a great deal in how to do a full well-visit child check up and what to look for when it came to physical diagnosis for any illness.
What I noticed about some of the these young patients in my pediatric rotation is that their mothers bring them often for every little thing. Since they are under Medicaid, it’s easy for them to come in whenever they think something is wrong. Unfortunately these mothers take up time when a simple runny nose, that their kids have, will go away by itself and nothing will cure it since there is no cure for the common cold.
Right now it’s a great feeling that I’m moving on with establishing my career and I thank the Almighty Lord for my success.