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  #1  
Old 01-12-2015
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Default First post and Kaplan questions!

Hey everyone

This is my first post here, so let me briefly introduce myself. I'm Faris, a med student in the middle-east (Jordan), which means I'm an IMG. I LOVE medicine and love all the knowledge I'm going to have in a few years, and just the thought of that motivates me. I'm still a first year med student, and where I live, med school lasts for 6 years. The first 3 years are basic sciences, and the last 3 are rotations and wards and all that stuff.

So far, we haven't even started with the medicine stuff yet! Next semester, we'll start with anatomy, physiology, and histology(which I never read about in Step 1 threads). Because my med school is so brilliant, they decided to put biochemistry later, and IIRC, we'll also learn immuno AFTER micro.

So, given this mess of a schedule, I decided to take it upon myself to become ready on all fronts for the USMLE Step 1, starting as soon as possible! I want to score 250+, because I aspire to be a plastic surgeon, and unfortunately that's a bit competitive.

Anyway, so now that I've bored you with all that stuff, time for the actual questions :P I've been studying microbiology on my own, almost got through bacteriology, and I'm using CMMRS. I'm loving the book, especially the tables at the end of each chapter which I sometimes annotate with important facts (not many) and revise. I'm finding it good. It's been almost a week since vacation started and I've gone through about 120 pages, so I'm happy with myself. My plan is to hopefully finish it before I start my 2nd semester in early February, because this semester will have (as I mentioned above) the foundation of a lot of medicine, so I'll have to give it a lot of time and effort.

I'm enjoying Microbiology a lot, which surprised a lot of my friends, who thought I was crazy for doing this. Anyway... my brother who's also in med school had a Kaplan book for micro, and I tried to read through it but I really didn't like the structure and layout of the book. I liked reading CMMRS more because it describes the organism in text, and explains some of the stuff, so when you start to memorize you understand what you're learning. I didn't find that in Kaplan, and thought it was kinda messy. It made more sense when I re-read it after learning things from CMMRS, but I think I'll stick to the tables at the end of each chapter (+FA) instead of Kaplan. Is this a good idea? For scoring 250+?

Also, I was wondering how important were the other Kaplan books? For physiology, I've heard a lot of good stuff about BRS physio. So I'm thinking of getting costanzo physio textbook along with the BRS Physio, which I'll annotate with important info (if it needs) so that I can use that to revise for exams/USMLE when the time comes. Is this okay? Or is it bad to use stuff other than Kaplan? Is Kaplan the "ideal" source for all subjects?

I heard good stuff about Rapid Review Biochemistry, as well. I heard Kaplan was good for Pharma. I'm gonna use Pathoma and/or Goljan for Pathology. What about anatomy?

Oh, and one last question (if anyone is still here :P). When should I start UWorld, and should I solve it after I finish each subject or after I finish everything?

Thanks in advance, and sorry for a HUGE post!
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  #2  
Old 01-13-2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarisQ View Post
Hey everyone

This is my first post here, so let me briefly introduce myself. I'm Faris, a med student in the middle-east (Jordan), which means I'm an IMG. I LOVE medicine and love all the knowledge I'm going to have in a few years, and just the thought of that motivates me. I'm still a first year med student, and where I live, med school lasts for 6 years. The first 3 years are basic sciences, and the last 3 are rotations and wards and all that stuff.

So far, we haven't even started with the medicine stuff yet! Next semester, we'll start with anatomy, physiology, and histology(which I never read about in Step 1 threads). Because my med school is so brilliant, they decided to put biochemistry later, and IIRC, we'll also learn immuno AFTER micro.

So, given this mess of a schedule, I decided to take it upon myself to become ready on all fronts for the USMLE Step 1, starting as soon as possible! I want to score 250+, because I aspire to be a plastic surgeon, and unfortunately that's a bit competitive.

Anyway, so now that I've bored you with all that stuff, time for the actual questions :P I've been studying microbiology on my own, almost got through bacteriology, and I'm using CMMRS. I'm loving the book, especially the tables at the end of each chapter which I sometimes annotate with important facts (not many) and revise. I'm finding it good. It's been almost a week since vacation started and I've gone through about 120 pages, so I'm happy with myself. My plan is to hopefully finish it before I start my 2nd semester in early February, because this semester will have (as I mentioned above) the foundation of a lot of medicine, so I'll have to give it a lot of time and effort.

I'm enjoying Microbiology a lot, which surprised a lot of my friends, who thought I was crazy for doing this. Anyway... my brother who's also in med school had a Kaplan book for micro, and I tried to read through it but I really didn't like the structure and layout of the book. I liked reading CMMRS more because it describes the organism in text, and explains some of the stuff, so when you start to memorize you understand what you're learning. I didn't find that in Kaplan, and thought it was kinda messy. It made more sense when I re-read it after learning things from CMMRS, but I think I'll stick to the tables at the end of each chapter (+FA) instead of Kaplan. Is this a good idea? For scoring 250+?

Also, I was wondering how important were the other Kaplan books? For physiology, I've heard a lot of good stuff about BRS physio. So I'm thinking of getting costanzo physio textbook along with the BRS Physio, which I'll annotate with important info (if it needs) so that I can use that to revise for exams/USMLE when the time comes. Is this okay? Or is it bad to use stuff other than Kaplan? Is Kaplan the "ideal" source for all subjects?

I heard good stuff about Rapid Review Biochemistry, as well. I heard Kaplan was good for Pharma. I'm gonna use Pathoma and/or Goljan for Pathology. What about anatomy?

Oh, and one last question (if anyone is still here :P). When should I start UWorld, and should I solve it after I finish each subject or after I finish everything?

Thanks in advance, and sorry for a HUGE post!
Hello, it is very pleasant to see an ambitious first year student, can't wait to start studying for the boards, even without having had the classes in med school. That being said, I strongly suggest you to calm down a little bit. I can totally sense your excitement - which is an awesome thing by the way - and it kinda reminds me of myself, my first year in med school. I was also pretty sure that I was going to go to US for residency, so I also started early searching about USMLE. Furthermore, I also wanted to become a plastic surgeon just like you.

You have a lot of time to do things. Just take it easy. A lot of medical schools' curriculums are designed like yours, so no reason to freak out I believe that your priority should be doing well in med school, learning and understanding basic sciences in depth. USMLE books are review books, and even though USMLE asks for concepts, they are not designed to teach all the mechanisms that you should learn to become a good doctor. Learning from your classes and reading textbooks should be the first order of business. After that you are done with it, you can review the subjects from USMLE books just to see what's being asked or to cover up some parts that you may have missed. I think you will find studying for the USMLE to be easier in this way.

If you are still keen on studying for the USMLE, here are my little bits of advice and answers to your questions: Kaplan books are overall good. Some books are exceptionally good, some are just OK. I did use Kaplan books to study, except for pathology, which I used Pathoma for. I watched Kaplan videos and annotated the books, which I believe is the biggest advantage of Kaplan over the other review books (availability of reviewing the material with watching videos and adding some extra explanation) Many people like the books that you have mentioned too. I don't think studying from one book or another creates a huge difference in the end. My best advice for you is to stick with one that you feel you can study more and learn better from. If you have the chance, find someone who has USMLE books and just have a glance at the books.
I believe you should do questions when you have mastered all the knowledge, and at least reviewed all the subjects once, if possible twice. Then you can start doing UWorld, you can do it subject-wise or random. Many people start to use UWorld at the end of their preparation to get the most of it and finish the bank in 1-3 months.

I hope this helps. You can also find very valuable information in recommended threads and other threads where people share their step 1 experiences.
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  #3  
Old 01-14-2015
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Inr4, thanks for the reply!

Well, to be honest, I'm not studying things intensely. I'm just kind of learning and memorizing a bit, and I actually find it fun for some weird reason. The reason I started micro is because I was told it didn't require much (or any) background knowledge except the very basics, especially if I use CMMRS. I'm hoping to get up to viruses with a good understanding and memory of the material by the time this vacation ends. This seems like a good plan, since I only have around 100 pages left to get there, and almost 2 weeks of vacation to do that. Unfortunately, it's been snowing heavily, so it's not like I can go out with my friends either :P Fortunately, this gives me a lot of extra time to play piano

What I plan to do when med school starts back up is to study the course material well, and then review from review books, adding important facts which I think are worth adding (if they're not already there). I think this seems like a good idea, because I'll be doing well in school, while also preparing my resources - and myself :P - for when the time comes to actually use them heavily.

Another concern I have is that I'm going to take Step 1 between my 3rd year (last year of basic) and 4th year (first year of clinical). And if I keep following the curriculum, I'll only finish the last system a couple of weeks before I take step 1, which means I won't be able to do questions until then, which means I'll do poorly. I want to be ready much earlier, because if I strictly follow my school's schedule, I won't have time to feel confident about everything. So, I have to learn some stuff on my own, so I can put them into practice and review them + answer questions on them, before I actually get to them in med school. So I think this is the only way to accomplish that, is it now? I hope I'm making sense :P

Again, thanks!
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  #4  
Old 01-14-2015
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Well, sounds like a solid plan I must say that it is easier said than done. I also had the same problem that you have, thought I could study for the USMLE in my third year (the year I had pharm + path and also introductory classes to clinical sciences) However, I gave priority to my classes and found studying for the USMLE at the same time to be unsustainable. I even took notes from my classes to my Kaplan books (which I realised later that those notes were completely unnecessary, totally low yield for USMLE, all it did was ruining the books - I started my prep with unused, empty books instead)
I ended up taking the exam in my last year, which is my intern year, so I didn't have any exams in school and it was very easy for me to dedicate myself to USMLE. Also, Step 1 is very clinically-oriented, as I had all my clerkships before I took Step 1, it was easy for me to link basic sciences to Step 1 questions. If you will have such time during med school (a time that you can totally devote yourself to USMLE preparation), you could consider postponing your preparation to that time. If not, you can stick to your plan. I wish you the best of luck with your studies
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