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Old 04-25-2012
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Thumbs Up Here is how I got my 265 on the Step 1 exam

Hi everyone,

Here is me trying to give a little back to this forum which has been incredibly useful! My prep plan is somewhat long winded, so it may not be ideal for everyone, but if you trim the Kaplan Live Prep course it's probably the cheapest and quickest way to prepare for it (and I think the latter portion is what made the biggest difference to be honest).

Did my exam beginning of this month, got 265/90. The breakdown had an asterisk in all fields except for Biochem, Genetics and Musculoskeletal/connective tissue.

November-December: did the Kaplan LivePrep 6-week course in Midtown, NY. It was paid for by my university and attendance was compulsory, but I got to admit it was pretty awesome. The guys there really know what they're talking about. Dr Barone and Dr Fischer will tattoo facts into your brain that will prove very useful in the boards as well as the wards! Also did Kaplan QBank questions covering the relevant subject areas during this time to reinforce the content of the class, but really didn't apply myself at this point. Took it kind of easy, tried to enjoy myself as much as possible. Just listened and paid close attention while taking few notes where necessary.

Early January: Still taking it kind of easy at this point. Dropped the Kaplan QBank and instead focused on UWorld. Listened to Goljan audio while going through his slides. Scheduled my exam for the beginning of April. Got my FA 2012, took it off its spine and put it in a binder.

Late Jan - February: Now the real prep begins! At this point I started using the 24-day plan that is in the appendix of the PDF I've attached, with a few modifications. For micro/immuno I used the Kaplan Micro/immuno book, which was really more than adequate for this test. For behavioural I used the BRS book by Dr Fadem. Biochem I used Kaplan as well as Goljan. Anatomy/embryo I used Kaplan + rapid review, but honestly it's fairly low-yield and FA was probably enough for that. Patho I used none other than Goljan rapid review. It's fairly dense and can take a long time to get through it, but it's definitely worth the effort. Physio, BRS by Costanzo is hands down the best. Histo was _extremely_ low yield, kaplan book was enough.

In general I advise you to use books that are tried and tested and which have been recommended by others. The good thing about this particular plan is that allows you to study system-based, which is good for integration which is what the boards is all about.
Also, squeezed in two blocks of UWorld/day, timed + tutor mode. This time was all about building up my knowledge base, so it was really worth spending the time really trying to _understand_ things, mechanisms, the basics, pharmacokinetics, pathophysiology, everything down to a cellular level. Didn't start memorising stuff just yet. Anything that was interesting/unknown from either the books I was reviewing or from UWorld I wrote it into a relevant part of the FA binder. Sounds like a lot of work, which it was (24-day plan stretched into 36, on average studying 12 hours a day) but in hindsight this was the most fruitful time of my study guide.

Once this was done, having finished all the Q's on UWorld, I reset my UWorld QBank and began the next phase.

March: started DIT, doing it over 3 weeks with weekends off (to do first aid review and one NBME self-assessment form... more on that later). The most useful part of DIT was really the quizzes that they provide, which just makes sure you're picking up the most important facts out of FA. Having someone read FA out to you is also useful for people who are audio learners such as myself. Some of the stuff they covered in musculoskeletal did prove useful though. Also during this month I did 20 cards of Fischer's pharma flash cards/day. And very importantly, I did 2 blocks/day of UWorld timed (no tutor). This last month was just really about memorising the high yield facts, and looking for weak areas and trying to cover them as much as possible. Once I was done with DIT, it was just FA FA FA. Tried as much as possible to cover 100 pages a day so I could finish it in 5 days. After each time I finished it I would do a UWorld self-assessment exam, which was very predictive of my final score. Overall finished FA 3 times in the last month before my exam.

I did all of the NBME self-assessment forms, starting about half way through Feb, doing a new one every weekend. Was somewhat frustrated with the first one (got a 235), but seemed to average 259 pretty consistently from then on. Overall forms 7 and 13 were probably the closest to the real thing.
UWorld self-assessment exam form 1 (2 weeks from exam) = 265
UWorld self-assessment exam form 2 (1 week from exam) = 262

Overall ended up reading through all my review books once, goljan audio lectures once, Fischer pharma flash cards once, UWorld QBank twice and FA 3 times.

Good luck!
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Old 04-25-2012
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congratulations
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well done!
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Amazing score !!!



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Congrats!!
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great score.....congrats
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Its a HHHHHHHHHHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGEEEEEEEEEE Score!!! Congratss!!!
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awesome omg
Congrats
any advice to students preparing for the exam ?
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Default Some advice

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Originally Posted by in-a-hurry View Post
awesome omg
Congrats
any advice to students preparing for the exam ?

Here are a couple of things which I think are useful to bear in mind:

- I've seen people interpreting the use of UWorld as a teaching aid as a reason to not think about the questions and click on anything just to see the explanation. Don't do that! Instead work long and hard at each question and try to arrive at the correct answer logically. Get your brain wired to think through questions the way you would on exam day.

- Structure your exam schedule to simulate the exam day as much as possible. It's about endurance as much as it is about testing your knowledge. Start studying from 7.30 a.m., take short breaks every hour or so, take an hour's break for lunch, then work till 3.30pm. And no naps! This will prove useful on exam day; you don't want to burn out half way through the exam or have your brain start to slow down on you.

Good luck!
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Smile Awesome score

Congratulations !!
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Amazing score! Congratulations!
How did you like RR Anatomy? Did you study Embryo from it too? Do you think RR Anatomy + HY Neuroanatomy is enough (without Kaplan LN)?
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Default RR Anatomy + HY Neuroanatomy

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Originally Posted by val7 View Post
Amazing score! Congratulations!
How did you like RR Anatomy? Did you study Embryo from it too? Do you think RR Anatomy + HY Neuroanatomy is enough (without Kaplan LN)?
I found RR anatomy to be overkill to be honest. I started using it during my review, but found it to contain way too much information, so instead just read the clinical correlates and looked over the images (esp the radiological images). I can't really remember what I used for embryo exactly, but it must have been a combination of Kaplan LN and RR.

I really liked HY Neuroanatomy (although it may be a little bit overkill). I think if you're comfortable with the material in there and give it one good thorough read that should be more than adequate for the Step 1 exam. Pay particular attention to all the radiological anatomy in there and the brainstem strokes. Kaplan LN has a nice summary for the latter that you can go over when you're through so you can just remember the key distinguishing points.
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- Structure your exam schedule to simulate the exam day as much as possible. It's about endurance as much as it is about testing your knowledge. Start studying from 7.30 a.m., take short breaks every hour or so, take an hour's break for lunch, then work till 3.30pm. And no naps! This will prove useful on exam day; you don't want to burn out half way through the exam or have your brain start to slow down on you.
Hay thnx for advice , will do that in my vacation but am currently going to school & studying at the same ttime

Good luck![/QUOTE]
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Medstudent23;

First if all I want to congratulate you for you excellent score. Reading your post has strengthened my motivation for the exam. I signed up for kaplan and after I took a look at the usmle step 1 Qbank for the first time I felt so bad about myself and realized that I am so far from bein half ready;To be honest with you I planed to take the exam a while ago but I keep postponing because I've been so lazy, running extremely slow and didn't adhere to any study plan I made Although I am determined to take step 1 in November"hopefully I will do it this time" that means after 7 months from now I had that feeling that it's not enough time to prepare for it. When I read that you made it in a very short period of time I was like "What!!! 5 months" I am thinking of following your steps and doing the best I can to get it done and o ahead and study for the rest to be able to go for 2014 match
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congrats....way to go ahead......!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by medstudent23 View Post
I found RR anatomy to be overkill to be honest. I started using it during my review, but found it to contain way too much information, so instead just read the clinical correlates and looked over the images (esp the radiological images). I can't really remember what I used for embryo exactly, but it must have been a combination of Kaplan LN and RR.

I really liked HY Neuroanatomy (although it may be a little bit overkill). I think if you're comfortable with the material in there and give it one good thorough read that should be more than adequate for the Step 1 exam. Pay particular attention to all the radiological anatomy in there and the brainstem strokes. Kaplan LN has a nice summary for the latter that you can go over when you're through so you can just remember the key distinguishing points.
Thank you very much for the information. I don't own Kaplan LN- I was planning to use only RR anatomy and HY Neuroanatomy. Do you think that is too much? Should I get Kaplan LN instead?
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Old 04-28-2012
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Default RR Anatomy + HY Neuroanatomy

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Thank you very much for the information. I don't own Kaplan LN- I was planning to use only RR anatomy and HY Neuroanatomy. Do you think that is too much? Should I get Kaplan LN instead?

You can definitely use HY neuroanatomy without Kaplan LN; I found the former to cover just about everything you need to know for this exam. There are things that I think you can probably skip though, such as neurohistology.

As for RR Anatomy, I think the newest edition will probably suffice. The previous edition had only basic diagrams with no radiological images so I found it fairly useless. However, the new one does have a bit too much information, so if you did OK at Anatomy in med school then you can probably skip through most of it and stick to the clinical correlates. Otherwise you should probably give it all a more thorough read. You can probably get away without using the Kaplan LN in these subjects, but for microbio/immuno and biochem I found Kaplan LN to be the best.
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Old 05-10-2012
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hi medstudent23, congrats for such an awesome score!! And thanks for sharing ur valuable experience.

What in ur hindsight was 'central' to achieving such a huge score (like choosing the study material correctly/being serious during whole prep/understanding/having a companion/medical school knowledge/UW&FA)?
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Default Central contributing factors

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Originally Posted by koshurbuoy View Post
hi medstudent23, congrats for such an awesome score!! And thanks for sharing ur valuable experience.

What in ur hindsight was 'central' to achieving such a huge score (like choosing the study material correctly/being serious during whole prep/understanding/having a companion/medical school knowledge/UW&FA)?

Hi koshurbuoy,

Thanks for your message. One thing I didn't mention in my first post, and I probably should have as it was extremely valuable, was that I had a terrific study partner throughout and who I used to study with everyday. We would take turns reading out loud to one another from the review books, which (in addition to adding an audio component to the reading) had the advantages that 1) it forced us to maintain the pace, 2) it allowed us to pause and discuss whenever something wasn't clear, 3) it allowed us to bounce ideas off of each other and 4) you can keep motivating one another to keep on going. There will be days when you won't feel like you can go on... it is a lot of hard work and the study plan I described above is really quite intensive. But thankfully there wasn't a day when neither one of us could go on, so on the days when I was feeling burnt out my study partner would motivate me and vice versa.

I would say that if you can't find a study partner to study with every day, then try to find one to study with at least once a week. During the week, write down things which aren't clear to you and your study partner can do the same. Or tricky questions from QBank or UWorld which you still don't quite get. And then when you guys meet up then you can have your partner talk you through his/her own reasoning that allowed him/her to arrive at the right answer or to explain your difficult topics, etc. Teaching allows you to test yourself in seeing how well do you know the topic at hand and allows you to retain the information better, so it's a win-win situation.

It is difficult to say what was 'central' to be honest, I think it is an interplay of making a few good calls throughout that came together and culminated in a good score. I studied fairly hard (but not this hard) during med school, so I had a decent knowledge base, but there were certainly deficiencies, and I had an idea of what they were so that was important. My med school neglected behavioural so I paid close attention to that (and it's important that you do, as it amounts to many very easy marks). However, that wasn't my only deficiency and it's important that you address them all.

Choosing the right study material, I would say it's largely an issue of personal preference so you can't really go wrong (with few exceptions), however as there are a lot of resources out there the biggest worry is flooding and overwhelming yourself with too many resources. I say stick to one good one with high reviews for each discipline (e.g. Costanzo for physio).

Understanding... Yes, definitely. For some topics it is of the essence, e.g. physiology, pathology, pathophysiology, cellular biology, genetics, etc. However there is no escaping that some topics are largely down to memorising, and it is worth the time and effort to do so, e.g. microbiology, aspects of immunology such as interleukins and CD-markers, rate-limiting steps in biochem, positive and negative regulators, etc. I can't give specifics, but suffice to say that FA had all the stuff you need for memorisation.

As for being serious throughout the whole study prep, that was very important. My study schedule was a bit more crammed than the other preps that I have seen, and it was designed as such so that my study partner and I would retain as much as possible for the exam and to avoid burn out. We really couldn't afford to goof around (at least not for long). It helps if you have a target in mind, for instance if you know you're aiming for a competitive specialty then check out the NRMP Charting Outcomes to get an idea of what kind of score you need. That doesn't mean just aiming for the mean score among those who matched though. There is one bar chart in particular for each specialty which will show you for each score bracket how many people matched and how many didn't, and it's that ratio which will give you a better idea. It will also remind you (if you're an IMG) of the uphill struggle you'll face against an AMG with the same score.

There is one more thing which was important though and that was the test-taking strategy. That's what UWorld helps to address, but the practice NBME forms and UW self-assessment exams are vital too. Like I said earlier, your test prep should also include a pattern of studying that will prepare you for the exam day... little things like studying from early in the morning without taking naps and while taking only short hourly breaks like you would on exam day. It really does help a lot. In order to get a decent score you need to perform consistently well throughout the 7 blocks on the day, and by block 7 having already finished 276 questions it's just pure endurance.

Apologies for the length of my reply, but I hope that this will help you with your preparation. Good luck!
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Thank you medstudent23.. And about the length of ur post, it was proportional to our gain. Good luck to u too.
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my exam is in less than 4 weeks

i want to jump up 10pts in this time
how do i do it?

im currently at 219 and would LOVE to get 229

right now i have DIT 2nd pass (w/ a block of UW daily) planned for 15 days and then FA and UW review planned for the rest of the time.

what should i add/change to this plan?
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Default 10 points in 4 weeks

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Originally Posted by Dr.NickRiviera View Post
my exam is in less than 4 weeks

i want to jump up 10pts in this time
how do i do it?

im currently at 219 and would LOVE to get 229

right now i have DIT 2nd pass (w/ a block of UW daily) planned for 15 days and then FA and UW review planned for the rest of the time.

what should i add/change to this plan?
A 10-point jump in 4 weeks is definitely do-able, and I think the way you currently have it planned ought to do the trick, especially if this is near the end of your 2nd pass through UW. For the last week I would stay clear of doing any more UW questions and just focus on reading FA. In 4 weeks you should be able to get through FA 4 times if you do ~100 pages a day, but you should aim to finish it at least 3 times. The UWSA forms seem to be pretty good predictors of how you'll actually perform so I would recommend you do one 2 weeks and then 1 week before the exam. At this point I would make sure I have anatomy, microbio and biochem as fresh as possible as those are just memory games and can gain you some easy points.
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Originally Posted by medstudent23 View Post
A 10-point jump in 4 weeks is definitely do-able, and I think the way you currently have it planned ought to do the trick, especially if this is near the end of your 2nd pass through UW. For the last week I would stay clear of doing any more UW questions and just focus on reading FA. In 4 weeks you should be able to get through FA 4 times if you do ~100 pages a day, but you should aim to finish it at least 3 times. The UWSA forms seem to be pretty good predictors of how you'll actually perform so I would recommend you do one 2 weeks and then 1 week before the exam. At this point I would make sure I have anatomy, microbio and biochem as fresh as possible as those are just memory games and can gain you some easy points.
dont do any questions during the last week? or just dont do UW questions?

My 2nd pass of DIT will end within a week of my exam, so that should have all the anatomy, microbio and biochem HY facts fresh in my head right? no need for me to revise them from other sources?

I plan to do nbme form 13 this sunday, then 15 days of DIT (2nd pass), then nbme form 7. That'll put me at exactly 1 week before my exam and I'll just revise forgettables that week from UW and FA.

How does that sound?

I'm kind of scared of form 13 this weekend, ive heard its the trickiest of them all. What do you think?

ps. thanks for the reply!!!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.NickRiviera View Post
dont do any questions during the last week? or just dont do UW questions?

My 2nd pass of DIT will end within a week of my exam, so that should have all the anatomy, microbio and biochem HY facts fresh in my head right? no need for me to revise them from other sources?

I plan to do nbme form 13 this sunday, then 15 days of DIT (2nd pass), then nbme form 7. That'll put me at exactly 1 week before my exam and I'll just revise forgettables that week from UW and FA.

How does that sound?

I'm kind of scared of form 13 this weekend, ive heard its the trickiest of them all. What do you think?

ps. thanks for the reply!!!
@DrNick: Why don't you take NBME 7 instead of 13 since 7 is more predictable. If you take 7, you know your score would be at least +/- 5 from whatever you get right now and you'll know your real weak areas. Then one month, do whatever your plan is and focus on those areas as well and then take 13. You can only increase your score after taking NBME 7 this week. So if you get a better score on 13 then you know you've definitely made a jump in this month. Just a suggestion
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Originally Posted by Dr.NickRiviera View Post
dont do any questions during the last week? or just dont do UW questions?

My 2nd pass of DIT will end within a week of my exam, so that should have all the anatomy, microbio and biochem HY facts fresh in my head right? no need for me to revise them from other sources?

I plan to do nbme form 13 this sunday, then 15 days of DIT (2nd pass), then nbme form 7. That'll put me at exactly 1 week before my exam and I'll just revise forgettables that week from UW and FA.

How does that sound?

I'm kind of scared of form 13 this weekend, ive heard its the trickiest of them all. What do you think?

ps. thanks for the reply!!!

If you have already been through UW twice then I would say don't do any questions in the last week whatsoever. If not, then I think it would be better for you to continue. But certainly don't do any studying or questions the day before the exam. It may freak you out unnecessarily and I doubt there is much that you can pick up on that day. Rest and an early night's sleep is your prescription for the day before.

Hope2Pass makes an interesting point re. doing NBME 7 followed by 13. That is the order that I also followed, but my reasoning was arbitrarily based on doing them in numerical order. 13 is somewhat tricky, but do-able. I don't believe that there are any rules that dictate which forms will correlate best to your exam, the test questions change from one examinee to the next, it's largely down to luck. But luck tends to work in the favour of those who are better prepared, so don't get freaked out if your performance on one of these forms isn't how you hope. You can still turn it around up until the last minute of that last block on exam day.

If you think that 13 will leave you shaken up then I would say do that first, pay for the expanded feedback and read around all the wrong questions extensively. Form 7 may then help you regain some confidence closer to exam day.

Other than that, what you have planned seems like a pretty good plan. I would maybe bump it up from 1 block of UW/day to 1.5 or 2 if you can though (timed/no tutor). And for every question you get wrong or find particularly tricky write the key points into your FA for the last week's review.
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The above post was thanked by:
d_wiqed (05-11-2012), Dr.NickRiviera (05-11-2012)



  #26  
Old 05-11-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by medstudent23 View Post
If you have already been through UW twice then I would say don't do any questions in the last week whatsoever. If not, then I think it would be better for you to continue. But certainly don't do any studying or questions the day before the exam. It may freak you out unnecessarily and I doubt there is much that you can pick up on that day. Rest and an early night's sleep is your prescription for the day before.

Hope2Pass makes an interesting point re. doing NBME 7 followed by 13. That is the order that I also followed, but my reasoning was arbitrarily based on doing them in numerical order. 13 is somewhat tricky, but do-able. I don't believe that there are any rules that dictate which forms will correlate best to your exam, the test questions change from one examinee to the next, it's largely down to luck. But luck tends to work in the favour of those who are better prepared, so don't get freaked out if your performance on one of these forms isn't how you hope. You can still turn it around up until the last minute of that last block on exam day.

If you think that 13 will leave you shaken up then I would say do that first, pay for the expanded feedback and read around all the wrong questions extensively. Form 7 may then help you regain some confidence closer to exam day.

Other than that, what you have planned seems like a pretty good plan. I would maybe bump it up from 1 block of UW/day to 1.5 or 2 if you can though (timed/no tutor). And for every question you get wrong or find particularly tricky write the key points into your FA for the last week's review.
awesome, thanks so much
you've answered i think all the questions i have lol

thanks for your help!
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  #27  
Old 10-11-2012
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24-day plan that is in the appendix of the PDF

what version of biochemistry is that ?
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