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USMLE Step 1 Forum USMLE Step 1 Discussion Forum: Let's talk about anything related to USMLE Step 1 exam


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  #1  
Old 07-17-2011
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Star My Experience

Hello everyone, as promised I will tell you about my Step 1 experience. Before I tell you, I want you to keep in mind that everyone's testing experience is different, so this is just my personal story. I started really studying the beginning of April, but I had been doing gunnertraining and Kaplan Qbank since January. I didn't have a lot of time to dedicate to studying, so did daily flashcards and questions and made notes in my First Aid.
Final Stats:
Gunnertraining: 92% complete
Kaplan Qbank: 95% complete, average 58%
UWorld: 70% complete, average 63%
April 11- NBME 6: 191
June 5- NBME 5: 210
June 24- UWSA: 230
June 27- NBME 11: 226
July 9- UWSA2: 252
July 12- NBME 12: 233
July 13- Free 150: 251
Read FA about 2-3 times

I didn't do much in the month of May because we had our clinical orientation during that month. My advice would be not to take long breaks like that during your prep, because I forgot a lot during that time.

Test Day
I woke up early, felt refreshed because I had a good night's sleep. I started going to bed early and waking up early for a whole week before my test, and 2 days before my test I started trying to relax my mind and not do anything new.
I had breakfast (a Starbucks breakfast wrap), and packed lunch- 2 Cliffbars in case I was too on edge to eat a full meal, a bottle of Gatorade, and a Starbucks protein lunch box (had apple, grapes, boiled egg, a wheat roll and peanut butter).
I got to the center before it opened, but with all the checking in procedures I still didn't start until about 20 minutes after my appointment time.
With regards to breaks, I decided to take a break whenever I needed to and skip lunch if needed. I took a short break after the first block, then 2 blocks in a row and break. This worked really well, I had a bite of cliffbar and Gatorade during my breaks, so I wasn't really hungry. I took a longer break after the 4th block, and still had lots of time. Also, I used the break time to look in my FA for little things I may have forgotten (good to do because they some of the same questions were asked twice, just in a slightly different way, I wonder if those are experimental ?)

Test
The test was different from what I expected. The question stems were longer, a lot more lab values presented in the stem. Sometimes you don't really need the lab values to answer the question, but a lot of the times you have to go through them. Most of the questions were concepts I knew, but presented differently. Not much straightforward pathology or physiology, but instead lots of pathophysiology that required you to know a lot of variables. Most of my questions were like that. Also, pretty much every question had a clinical stem, the only ones with 1 or two lines would be ones with pictures. If I had to pick one practice test that it was most similar to, it would have been NBME 12. Kaplan Qbank pathophysiology section also does a good job. UWSA is a good confidence booster and it does test your knowledge of concepts, but the questions are structured differently. Also, definitely take the Free 150. Of course I can't tell you the details of the exam, but here are some general study guidelines:

Anatomy-
FA is not enough! Not a lot of questions, but definitely more detailed than FA
Embryology
Not a lot of questions. Very straightforward and FA is enough.
Neuroanatomy
Not a lot of questions, but FA is not enough.
Behavioral Science
These questions can be tricky and you never really know if you're right, FA definitely not enough. The behavioral sciences section in Kaplan Qbank does a great job.
Biostats
FA enough. Need to understand basic calculations and concepts.
Immunology
Not bad at all, very straightforward. FA enough, just know that chapter really well and you're gold.
Biochem
This was one of my weakest subjects coming in, and I went through the FA chapter a few times and all the UWorld biochem questions and it was more than enough.

The rest was very integrated. For instance, you would need to recognize an infection from the stem, and know the drug to treat it for the answer. Or know the infection, what to treat it with, and how it would interact with another drug that the patient is taking. Side effects are also big. It's not simply enough to be able to recognize a blood smear, you also need to know the associated translocations, associated pathophysiololgy such as effects on serum calcium, PTH or any other relevant value.

That said, if you work hard I think the test is doable. When you study, try to integrate as much as possible. Know the presentation, pathophysiology, and treatment of common diseases such as HIV/AIDS, heart disease, renal disease, obesity, diabetes and HTN.

In the end, I have no idea how I did. The test was harder than I expected. I can just hope and pray for the best.


If I may give one last piece of advice: DO NOT TAKE THE TEST UNTIL YOU ARE READY. I see so many people post that they take the test because of family or some other reason, which does not make sense. If you're lucky you may pass, but likely not with the score you're fully capable of. If you're unlucky, you will fail or pass with such a low score it would have been better to fail and retake it. Spare yourself the agony, and give it your all the first time around. I don't know my results, but at the end of the day I can honestly say I did my absolute best. My study didn't necessarily go as planned and there was a lot of bumps and tears along the way, but I kept pushing. Many people, including close friends and family, kept telling me to take the test and get it over with. However, I knew that as much as I love them, it would be just me and God taking that test, not them. I am fortunate to have a very supportive husband who never once pushed me to take it before I was ready, and encouraged me to do my best. I hope you all can similarly find a source of strength and support, and if not, that's what anonymous forums are for

Also, thanks again to all the forum staff and members...Steptaker, Sabio, rulz, bebix, patelmd, confident, harlesmd, dr.laura, struggle, bandar, dr.z, ashishkabir, and everyone else (I can't think of all your names right now, sorry if I didn't acknowledge anyone by name!)

Please keep me in your prayers, and I will be sure to let you know when I get my score. Good luck everyone, I wish you all the best and will also keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Last edited by heights; 07-17-2011 at 03:53 PM.
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  #2  
Old 07-17-2011
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congratulations on finishing exam...good write up...inspiring and thanks for making realize that i have to study hard and do exam when ready....
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Old 07-17-2011
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So happy for you heights!!! It's behind you... Doesn't it feel great? Wednesday is my big day, I finally get my score!!! Will let you know too!!!
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Old 07-17-2011
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Originally Posted by Dr_Laura View Post
So happy for you heights!!! It's behind you... Doesn't it feel great? Wednesday is my big day, I finally get my score!!! Will let you know too!!!
Good luck Dr. Laura! You will do well
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Old 07-17-2011
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Thank you for sharing and best wish for your next step. I have no doubt you will do well.
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Old 07-17-2011
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thanks for sharing your experience , u have tried well and u will get great score soon. i am sure.
is for patho and phisio , micro FA enough?
also about gunner is it worth ed to do that?
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Old 07-17-2011
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Congrats my friend! I'm waiting to hear the good news... I know the next few weeks are going to be the hardest emotionally but try and stay strong I'm sure you aced it though. Congrats again!
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Old 07-17-2011
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Congrats heights! Thanks for posting your experience.

Did you find UWorld helpful ?! U didnt mention it as much so thought I would ask. Do you think UW was better and more correlated to the real questions than Qbank?

THANKS !!
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Old 07-17-2011
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Originally Posted by dr_lizard View Post
thanks for sharing your experience , u have tried well and u will get great score soon. i am sure.
is for patho and phisio , micro FA enough?
also about gunner is it worth ed to do that?
Yes, if you have the time I would highly recommend gunner training. It's basically the same info as FA, but alot of it is explained, and then you have daily flashcards to help keep you on track. If you don't have a lot of time, yu can just do it for your weaker areas. If I had to vote for my top 2 resources for studying, it would be FA and gunnertraining.
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Old 07-17-2011
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Originally Posted by Hope2Pass View Post
Congrats heights! Thanks for posting your experience.

Did you find UWorld helpful ?! U didnt mention it as much so thought I would ask. Do you think UW was better and more correlated to the real questions than Qbank?

THANKS !!
I didn't find UWorld as amazing as everyone said it was. I used it when I was close to the end of my prep, and I found it very frustrating that my score was very zig-zagging over time and I didn't seem to improve much. I think a lot of people know their stuff really well, then do UWorld and score well on it and attribute their knowledge to UWorld. But the thing is, if they didn't already know, then they wouldn't be scoring well on UW.
Also, some of the explanations were so long, it would take me hours to review a block of questions. It was good practice and the software is much better than Qbank (Qbank highlighting is horrible), but I don't think I learned that much from it. Maybe if I had started earlier it would have been better, I don't know. I definitely would recommend it, but I don't think it's a golden key or anything. My best resources for this test was FA and gunnertraining.
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Old 07-18-2011
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good luck heights
i'm sure u did great!!!
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Old 07-18-2011
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Thanks alot for elaborating everything in such a clear and nice manner.
Best of luck for the results and all of the steps ahead.
I am sure you did great..
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Old 07-18-2011
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Congratulations,You will have great result
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congratulations! Am sure you'l do excellently! Waiting for the result. I'm giving another nbme in a day or 2 to assess where ive gotten, will take a call on my exam then, hopefully soon!
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Old 07-18-2011
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Great post heights!

You'll do well! Time to PARTY and enjoy the rest of the summer..
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Old 07-18-2011
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Hey Height,

Thanks for taking time of your "Vacations" hehehehe to do this Great post, Great review... I know for sure you are going to rock step 1. Now is time to rest and take a great vacation,, you earned it... =)

May God be with you ... and dont forget about us on forum step 1
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Old 07-18-2011
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congratssssssssssssssssssssssssssss :P and my prayers with u .. u will get good score and thanx for sharing this post ... and please tell me how many reads of kaplan leacture notes u have done ? and am short of time my exam in november plz tell me subjects which i have to annotate on first aid or i have to do kaplan again and again .. coz revision will not take much time as my first read was so extensive and in second read i m hoping to just refresh my concepts and am doing kaplan q bank with first read ... plz give me some advice .. and once again thanx for such nice post
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Old 07-18-2011
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Originally Posted by yasirsattar75 View Post
congratssssssssssssssssssssssssssss :P and my prayers with u .. u will get good score and thanx for sharing this post ... and please tell me how many reads of kaplan leacture notes u have done ? and am short of time my exam in november plz tell me subjects which i have to annotate on first aid or i have to do kaplan again and again .. coz revision will not take much time as my first read was so extensive and in second read i m hoping to just refresh my concepts and am doing kaplan q bank with first read ... plz give me some advice .. and once again thanx for such nice post
Sounds like you have a good plan! I don't think you really need to annotate Kaplan into FA, Kaplan is just to build your foundation. You should annotate Qbank into FA, and little things you think you might forget. I am an AMG, so I didn't really use Kaplan except to reference a few things (anatomy, pharmacology, behavioral science). I also used Robbins pathology and Costanzo physiology for reference. If you're an IMG, Kaplan seems to be the way to go (based on what other IMGs recommend). Good luck!
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Old 07-18-2011
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Originally Posted by heights View Post
Sounds like you have a good plan! I don't think you really need to annotate Kaplan into FA, Kaplan is just to build your foundation. You should annotate Qbank into FA, and little things you think you might forget. I am an AMG, so I didn't really use Kaplan except to reference a few things (anatomy, pharmacology, behavioral science). I also used Robbins pathology and Costanzo physiology for reference. If you're an IMG, Kaplan seems to be the way to go (based on what other IMGs recommend). Good luck!
Hey, was wondering your Uworld % came out to be 63%, is that stimulative that they show or for last 10/15 blocks?
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Old 07-18-2011
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Sounds like you have a good plan! I don't think you really need to annotate Kaplan into FA, Kaplan is just to build your foundation. You should annotate Qbank into FA, and little things you think you might forget. I am an AMG, so I didn't really use Kaplan except to reference a few things (anatomy, pharmacology, behavioral science). I also used Robbins pathology and Costanzo physiology for reference. If you're an IMG, Kaplan seems to be the way to go (based on what other IMGs recommend). Good luck!
yes u are right :P but the reason i am double minded coz most of people suggest reading f.a again and again and my friends recommending me to do kaplan again and again and i think IMG mostly use kaplan till the end of their prep ..... i wannt to score above 230 so thats why tense that have to do both kaplan leacture notes and f.a or just like my friends that have skipped f.a and got 99 score ... .. and as i know f.a is a high yield we cannot miss it .. and yes m making notes on my q banks kaplan q bank and uworld ..
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Old 07-18-2011
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At least 90% of my test could be found in FA, but not necessarily in a straightforward way. The key is that you have to really understand FA, not just read it and try to memorize. Some straightforward facts, like some anatomy and neuroanatomy questions, could not be answered from FA. That's why I think Kaplan may be good to set the foundation and supplement where FA falls short, but honestly I think the the question banks are good at filling in the blanks in FA. Definitely save time after Kaplan to give enough time to FA and UW.
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Old 07-18-2011
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do you recommand doing Robbins review of pathology?
thank you and good luck
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Old 07-18-2011
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Smile Prayers are with you Heights!!

I wish you the best on that score when it comes out. Thank you so much for posting such detailed experience on here and for answering questions promptly. May God bless you in all of your endeavors.

I really loved the part on your post in where you stress to take the test only when we are ready. I actually copied that paragraph (with your permission) to read it anytime I forget. Like you said, in the exam it's just you and Him.

You'll be missed.

Good luck heights and thank you.
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do you recommand doing Robbins review of pathology?
thank you and good luck
No don`t do it,if you want,read Goljan,its much better than going through Robin`s pathology.
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Old 07-18-2011
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do you recommand doing Robbins review of pathology?
thank you and good luck
If you have it and have time to do it, I'd say go for it, the more questions you do the better. However, the questions are much more difficult and not necessarily USMLE format, so if you do it just do it to reinforce your knowledge. Also, this should not be a substitute for UW.
Good luck!
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Old 07-18-2011
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No don`t do it,if you want,read Goljan,its much better than going through Robin`s pathology.
Robbins review of pathology is different from robbins pathology, and it's just a question book organized by system. It's a good book, but only if you have time. I did it because I used Robbins path for classes and the question book was a good addition. You're right though, Robbins path would definitely be overkill for Step 1.
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Old 07-18-2011
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Default Thank you!

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for the good luck wishes! I felt pretty down after my exam on Saturday, and super nervous waiting for my score. All the positive thoughts help cheer me up, so muchas gracias!
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Old 07-18-2011
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Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for the good luck wishes! I felt pretty down after my exam on Saturday, and super nervous waiting for my score. All the positive thoughts help cheer me up, so muchas gracias!
De Nada !!

Hope you get a 99!
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Old 07-20-2011
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Originally Posted by heights View Post
Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for the good luck wishes! I felt pretty down after my exam on Saturday, and super nervous waiting for my score. All the positive thoughts help cheer me up, so muchas gracias!
Ur post z so inspirative....thanks a ton fr dat last piece of advice,really opened up my brain...ultimately its we n God who take d exam,..evy1 else can oly add 2 d tension by forcing to take it soon.Thank God my hubby z also very supportive,,:-)

May God Bless U wd a roaring 99..Insha'Allah..looking forward fr a gud news frm u...Insha'Allah
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Old 07-20-2011
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Originally Posted by Dr_Laura View Post
So happy for you heights!!! It's behind you... Doesn't it feel great? Wednesday is my big day, I finally get my score!!! Will let you know too!!!
so did u get ur result 2day.....?.Hope u get 99..my prayers r wd u...
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Old 07-20-2011
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Congrats heights! Thanks for your experience:happ y:
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thank you a lot for such a valuable info and thanks again for sharing your experience with us.... sure you will pass with really high scores take care
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  #33  
Old 07-21-2011
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good luck heights for your score!!

see i found gunner training good for rapid review( yet doing two weeks free trials reading flash cards) but gunner training has less info than FA( as i feel)...so i m planning to skip gunner training flash cards ??...but still confuse bcoz as i m old IMG & reading & even focusing on all topics ( means every thing seems to me important) but via gunner training i m getting idea wat is important to remember...so wana ask that is really gunner helpful?? or i just focus on FA..? bcoz FA has more info than gunners...
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  #34  
Old 07-21-2011
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@ yasirsattar
yup you rite..as being IMG...we guys r highly recomended on kaplan reads at least 3 times (via our freinds) but it depends hwz our basic concepts...wel as being i m old IMg i done wth 2 reads from kaplan & add my notes on FA... so doing FA rite now for revision.... then will do MCQs... so am I in right track?? any suggestion?? my exam is also in Nov..
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  #35  
Old 07-21-2011
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@ yasirsattar
yup you rite..as being IMG...we guys r highly recomended on kaplan reads at least 3 times (via our freinds) but it depends hwz our basic concepts...wel as being i m old IMg i done wth 2 reads from kaplan & add my notes on FA... so doing FA rite now for revision.... then will do MCQs... so am I in right track?? any suggestion?? my exam is also in Nov..
yup if its retaining to you then its o.k but my six friends have 99 on step 1 ..they told me this plan that first read kaplan plus first aid and kaplan q bank and then second read of kaplan and uworld and then third read of kaplan with kaplan q book and then if possible fourth read then nbmes and at the end just revise ur weak areas ...... and u have done 2 reads of kaplan that good ... and am fourth year student now my step 1 exam is in november and just done first read to make some interlinkage between subjects with videos at 1.80x( vlc player to save time if u r good listener ) second read wouldnot take much time as the firs read took two months and goljan alone took 1.5 month started ealier but wasted alot of time ..now getting some momemtum ..hope i can finish it with good scores and best of luck to you marrium
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  #36  
Old 07-21-2011
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Originally Posted by yasirsattar75 View Post
yup if its retaining to you then its o.k but my six friends have 99 on step 1 ..they told me this plan that first read kaplan plus first aid and kaplan q bank and then second read of kaplan and uworld and then third read of kaplan with kaplan q book and then if possible fourth read then nbmes and at the end just revise ur weak areas ...... and u have done 2 reads of kaplan that good ... and am fourth year student now my step 1 exam is in november and just done first read to make some interlinkage between subjects with videos at 1.80x( vlc player to save time if u r good listener ) second read wouldnot take much time as the firs read took two months and goljan alone took 1.5 month started ealier but wasted alot of time ..now getting some momemtum ..hope i can finish it with good scores and best of luck to you marrium
I have exactly the same problem as you .I am an IMG,2 of my friends who got 257 and 246 on step 1 ,they recommend me to DO NOT RELY on FA and read kaplan more times while many people in ths forum suggest annotating FA with kaplan and then memorize FA after that at end.So i am also caught up in B/w.As i see FA definitely contains v.high yield stuff but if u compare with kaplan thare are a lot of things missing especially in Anatomy,BS,Physio and to some extent Biochem.So i dont think we can rely FULLY over FA.I have my exam at end of august and i am thinking of giving a fast read to kaplan again.Do tell me if u find a solution to this problem SOON
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  #37  
Old 07-21-2011
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I have exactly the same problem as you .I am an IMG,2 of my friends who got 257 and 246 on step 1 ,they recommend me to DO NOT RELY on FA and read kaplan more times while many people in ths forum suggest annotating FA with kaplan and then memorize FA after that at end.So i am also caught up in B/w.As i see FA definitely contains v.high yield stuff but if u compare with kaplan thare are a lot of things missing especially in Anatomy,BS,Physio and to some extent Biochem.So i dont think we can rely FULLY over FA.I have my exam at end of august and i am thinking of giving a fast read to kaplan again.Do tell me if u find a solution to this problem SOON
and i have finally decided not to rely on first aid i will use it with my first read only and then add its pnemonic etc on kaplan and i dont think just to rely on first aid everyone has its own luck ..first aid needs so much addition if u depend only on first aid and i dnt want to depend only on luck so better to do kaplan with fast read just to grab concepts i think so ... coz most of my friends got 99 on step 1 with this technique ... i think its very hardworking but hardwork will pay u also best of luck ....
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  #38  
Old 07-21-2011
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Originally Posted by yasirsattar75 View Post
and i have finally decided not to rely on first aid i will use it with my first read only and then add its pnemonic etc on kaplan and i dont think just to rely on first aid everyone has its own luck ..first aid needs so much addition if u depend only on first aid and i dnt want to depend only on luck so better to do kaplan with fast read just to grab concepts i think so ... coz most of my friends got 99 on step 1 with this technique ... i think its very hardworking but hardwork will pay u also best of luck ....
Ah even i feel the same thing...already therez so much 2 study,then y 2 change tracks betwn kaplan n FA...Thank God,gud 2 hear dat ppl got such gud scores wd dis technique...whew....
Thanks fr sharing it here bro...
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  #39  
Old 07-21-2011
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good luck heights for your score!!

see i found gunner training good for rapid review( yet doing two weeks free trials reading flash cards) but gunner training has less info than FA( as i feel)...so i m planning to skip gunner training flash cards ??...but still confuse bcoz as i m old IMG & reading & even focusing on all topics ( means every thing seems to me important) but via gunner training i m getting idea wat is important to remember...so wana ask that is really gunner helpful?? or i just focus on FA..? bcoz FA has more info than gunners...
OMG, gunnertraining is AMAZING!!! In some areas FA has more info than gunnertraining, but not much. It's just organized differently, so sometimes the info is in a different section. Here's how I used it: read the page in FA, then used then find the same thing in GT and bank those cards. If I found something explained better in GT, I added it to FA and vice versa. What I found was that going through the flashcards helped me read FA in much greater detail that when I just read through FA. However, I think people study differently and it may not work for everyone. If you have time, just try GT for free for a full month, meaning do your flashcards daily for a month. If you're not amazed by how much you remember after a month, then it may not be right for you Good luck!
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  #40  
Old 07-21-2011
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All this debate over whether to read FA or Kaplan....bottomline: FA CANNOT STAND ALONE. You have to decide what works for you, but the basic idea is that you need to build a solid foundation (whether by Kaplan or whatever), and then use FA to cram that info in. You can take your multiple number of months to read Kaplan multiple times, but at the end of the day in 2 or 3 months you will forget a lot of what you read. It doesn't matter how many times you read something if you don't understand it. FA contains the most high yield info, and if you understand it you can read it completely in 5-10 days. That's why people annotate everything from Qbank, UWorld, Kaplan, etc into FA, and the month or so before the test they read FA multiple times to pack all that info in. Early on in your study it would be silly to rely completely on FA since it doesn't make sense to memorize something you don't understand. By the time I did my last read of FA, there were many times I though to myself, wow, this makes so much more sense now.
Yes Kaplan has a lot more than FA, but if ~90% of the test can be found in FA, wouldn't you rather know that 90% really well rather than scramble for the few zebras in Kaplan or something else? That's for you to decide.
At the end of the day, there may be a few people out there who scored well without FA, but trust me that's the minority. FA is tried and true, and it's up to you to decide whether or not you want to use it. Just be sure to take some NBME's and let your performance on those be the judge before you take your exam. Good luck!

Last edited by heights; 07-21-2011 at 10:39 PM.
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  #41  
Old 07-21-2011
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All this debate over whether to read FA or Kaplan....botoomline: FA CANNOT STAND ALONE. You have to decide what works for you, but the basic idea is that you need to build a solid foundation (whether by Kaplan or whatever), and then use FA to cram that info in. You can take your multiple number of months to read Kaplan multiple times, but at the end of the day in 2 or 3 months you will forget alot of what you read. It doesn't matter how many times you read something if you don't understand it. FA contains the most high yield info, and if you understand it you can read it completely in 5-10 days. That's why people annotate everything from Qbank, UWorld, Kaplan, etc into FA, and the month or so before the test they read FA multiple times to pack all that info in. Early on in your study it would be silly to rely completely on FA since it doesn't make sense to memorize something you don't understand. By the time I did my last read of FA, there were many times I though to myself, wow, this makes so much more sense now.
Yes Kaplan has a lot more than FA, but if ~90% of the test can be found in FA, wouldn't you rather know that 90% really well rather than scramble for the few zebras in Kaplan or something else? That's for you to decide.
At the end of the day, there may be a few people out there who scored well without FA, but trust me that's the minority. FA is tried and true, and it's up to you to decide whether or not you want to use it. Just be sure to take some NBME's and let your performance on those be the judge before you take your exam. Good luck!
I think NBME s here are the KEY. As i have just 1 month left for exam i better Cram FA now as i have understanding of most things and on NBME s if i am scoring low in certain section i might review it from kaplan. I think thats the best thing to do
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  #42  
Old 07-23-2011
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Hi guys!
I am new here and just starting to get all the information about the USMLE, like what books I will use etc.
My question: What are NBMEs? Are they online tests? I'd be grateful if someone could explain it to me...
Thanks!
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