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I don't know where and how to start?
by StepTaker 08-23-2013, 05:44 AM

Many of our newbie forum members often start their first post in the forums with the same question, please help I don't know how to start and what materials I should use and what study plan I should follow, ..etc

So I thought let me write a guidance article so that we can refer them to it whenever they ask that question.

First of all, congratulations! You are now going to start a long painful journey but I can assure you that success at the end of the road will be immensely satisfying and you won't regret it.

Now let's do some Q&As

Should I do Step 1 or Step 2 CK first?
This is not an issue in the case of USMG's and Caribbeans as their schools require them to do Step 1 and then Step 2 CK sequentially. However, that might be an issue for IMGs, specially those who graduated or towards the end of their med schools.
Many IMGs, specially graduated IMGs, think that they should start with Step 2 CK first and then do Step 1 and their reasoning is that since you are now doing more clinical work then it's easier to start with clinical knowledge to get you kick started with a good CK score so that it stimulates you for embarking on the Step 1.
I personally, disagree. I think that Step 1 is a necessary foundation for the CK. Many CK questions require pathophysiology knowledge and such knowledge is not typically written in Step 2 CK review books. Therefore, it's important that you have that foundation before going to CK.
However, that's not a Black and White rule. If you still think that you want to do the CK first then that's OK, after all, every student has his/her own circumstances and way of preparation.
The issue of the sequence of steps and what to do first is polled and discussed in this thread here
IMGs: The most appropriate sequence of taking USMLE Steps?

I made my mind, I want to start with Step 1, What should I do?
We have gathered the most important tips and study methods for Step 1 preparation in our Step 1 Recommended Threads Forum. I suggest you start reading those threads there. Even though you'll see that those threads were started years ago, but we frequently update their info and we delete those that are not relevant to today's prep and add new ones as they become available.

What Materials I should use?
There are hundreds of books that are out there for step 1 preparation. It's sometimes confusing as to which one is good and which one is bad. I recommend that you follow our Best USMLE Books Page. In that page, you will have links to polls in which members have voted about the best book in each subject and you will also find links to the latest editions of USMLE books.

What Method I should follow?
Again, in the recommended Step 1 threads forum mentioned above, you will find useful and tested methods of step 1 prep such as the ZumZum Method, My Thread, and the Taus Method.
Grab any of these plans and see which one would work for you and modify it to fit your individual circumstances and time available. There is no plan that can be applied to each and every student. Every student should adapt a plan that fit his/her own time table and background knowledge.

Question Banks and Books?
Again in that recommended step 1 threads forum, you will find polls about the best available step 1 qbanks, the best predictive NBME forms, best step 1 question books, ...etc

What if I decided to start with the CK first?
Just like step 1, we have collected Step 2 CK Recommended Threads Forum. You will find there polls for best books, study methods, qbanks, and everything else.

How do I see what other starters are doing?
Check the Step 1 Starters Tag and the Step 2 CK Starters Tag to see how other students are starting their prep and what advice they are getting from senior students.

Am overwhelmed with this, Can you simplify?
You cannot grasp all the tricks and details in your first day. Start with reading one of the books and make it a daily habit. Come to this website frequently and see what others are doing. Gradually and slowly you'll get the idea and you will find your own path.

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Views 15583 Comments 8

Total Comments 8


Old 12-29-2014
Steps History: Not yet
Posts: 1
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
Great work
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Old 12-07-2015
Steps History: Not yet
Posts: 10
Threads: 4
Reputation: 10
It's very usefull

Thanx the article is very good. I came to know many things and even I thought to write step 2 ck,but I dropped now. I am just going start my preparation and came to know many things after reading this article.

Thanx a lot
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Old 02-04-2016
Steps History: Not yet
Posts: 1
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10

thank u so much
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Old 04-09-2016
Steps History: ---
Posts: 16
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
thanks for the info
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Old 06-27-2016
Steps History: ---
Posts: 2
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
useful info
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Old 07-26-2016
Steps History: Not yet
Posts: 16
Threads: 3
Reputation: 10
useful info
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Old 08-25-2016
Steps History: Step 1 Only
Posts: 15
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
good work.... ......
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Old 09-02-2016
Steps History: Not yet
Posts: 1
Threads: 0
Reputation: 10
Thank you very much..
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