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  #1  
Old 02-18-2014
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Default IMG preparation for step 1

Hi, I am a student from the UK hoping to take step 1.
I am currently in 5th year so it has been a while since I studied basic sciences. My initial plan was to study for about 12-13 weeks, but after reading various discussions in this forum, I am afraid that this isn't enough.
I know that people have different levels of knowledge and pace of learning but can anyone advise me if 12-13 weeks be enough if I studied around 6 hours a day? (I am aiming for a competitive score as I am an IMG)

My rough plan is to:
Go through Kaplan LNs with videos once while annotating to FA.
Then going through UWorld, and hopefully another Qbank (Kaplan or USMLERx) while looking back to FA whenever needed.

So my questions is, would it be possible to study for the step 1 in 12-13 weeks for 6 hrs a day as a foreign med student, and gain competitive score?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated as I am starting to panic even before properly studying for the exam!

Thank you in advance!
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  #2  
Old 02-19-2014
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Anyone please?
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Old 02-19-2014
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Let me try to help. I'm an IMG from Australia and took my Step 1 a couple of years out of med school. So I was definitely far out from basic sciences. I actually spent maybe close to a year preparing, in between full-time work as an intern and then a resident. Of course, my hours of prep varied day to day, and I could never do 6 hour stretches unless it was the weekend. I ended up with mid-230s as my Step 1 score (thankfuly I eventually matched at my first choice of residency.) I used old Kaplan LNs and FA, as well as a couple of other review books (eg. BRS physiology and pathology, microbio made rediculously simple, etc). I also used UWorld Qbank. This is a pretty standard prep approach. I think your materials are good.

I have a few thoughts about your plan.

If you have a deadline, then 12-13 weeks may be enough at 6 hours/d. But this depends on your baseline knowledge and how well you organize your time and learning. I would make sure to do some questions now to see what the questions feel like and how difficult it is. This may give you a feel for the timeline of your preparation. My hunch is that you will need more time. Preparing for Step 1 (basic sciences) is very tough when you have to return to it after some time in clinical work. You may find that the knowledge does not stick easily. This problem will probably vary depending on the subject. So thinking about giving yourself a bit more buffer time may be useful. Something you can do is to just work on a study plan and try it out for a week or so, and then reassess if you need more time.

Will you be working during your studies? That will also influence how much realistic preparation you can do. It's definitely very tough when studying and working at the same time. Also, taking some time with your exams is not necessarily a bad thing. Clinical work in a comparable system to the US (like the UK) can be a definite advantage when you are applying to programs. Strong clinical work (and other professional activities) as a physician can make you stand out over american grads straight out of med school.

Good luck!

Last edited by StepsToResidency; 02-19-2014 at 06:52 AM. Reason: clarify
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  #4  
Old 02-19-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StepsToResidency View Post
Let me try to help. I'm an IMG from Australia and took my Step 1 a couple of years out of med school. So I was definitely far out from basic sciences. I actually spent maybe close to a year preparing, in between full-time work as an intern and then a resident. Of course, my hours of prep varied day to day, and I could never do 6 hour stretches unless it was the weekend. I ended up with mid-230s as my Step 1 score (thankfuly I eventually matched at my first choice of residency.) I used old Kaplan LNs and FA, as well as a couple of other review books (eg. BRS physiology and pathology, microbio made rediculously simple, etc). I also used UWorld Qbank. This is a pretty standard prep approach. I think your materials are good.

I have a few thoughts about your plan.

If you have a deadline, then 12-13 weeks may be enough at 6 hours/d. But this depends on your baseline knowledge and how well you organize your time and learning. I would make sure to do some questions now to see what the questions feel like and how difficult it is. This may give you a feel for the timeline of your preparation. My hunch is that you will need more time. Preparing for Step 1 (basic sciences) is very tough when you have to return to it after some time in clinical work. You may find that the knowledge does not stick easily. This problem will probably vary depending on the subject. So thinking about giving yourself a bit more buffer time may be useful. Something you can do is to just work on a study plan and try it out for a week or so, and then reassess if you need more time.

Will you be working during your studies? That will also influence how much realistic preparation you can do. It's definitely very tough when studying and working at the same time. Also, taking some time with your exams is not necessarily a bad thing. Clinical work in a comparable system to the US (like the UK) can be a definite advantage when you are applying to programs. Strong clinical work (and other professional activities) as a physician can make you stand out over american grads straight out of med school.

Good luck!
Thank you for your insight and suggestions and congratulations on matching successfully to your first choice of residency!

As I am nearing the end of my student years, I feel now is the best time to prepare and write this exam. I will try to stick to my study plan for now and see how it goes and re-assess my status then.
Hopefully I will only need few more weeks then originally planned.

What do you mean by clinical work though? As in clinical electives and researches?

Thank you again for your encouraging reply.
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  #5  
Old 02-19-2014
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No problem. By clinical work I mean patient care. I am imagining that you will be doing your internship in the UK, right? Working hard and getting good evaluations can be very helpful in getting residency interviews, if you're planning to get LORs from one or more physicians in the UK.

Part of your application is to send in letters of recommendations. It's commonly thought that they all need to be from US physicians, but I don't think that's a firm rule. All of my LORs were from senior Australian physicians who knew my work well and could comment far more in depth on my abilities and character than a brief, hands-off experience in the U.S. that I did. Other non-clinical stuff, like publishing or volunteer work can also help in your application.
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  #6  
Old 02-19-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StepsToResidency View Post
No problem. By clinical work I mean patient care. I am imagining that you will be doing your internship in the UK, right? Working hard and getting good evaluations can be very helpful in getting residency interviews, if you're planning to get LORs from one or more physicians in the UK.

Part of your application is to send in letters of recommendations. It's commonly thought that they all need to be from US physicians, but I don't think that's a firm rule. All of my LORs were from senior Australian physicians who knew my work well and could comment far more in depth on my abilities and character than a brief, hands-off experience in the U.S. that I did. Other non-clinical stuff, like publishing or volunteer work can also help in your application.
Yes. I will be doing my internship (FY1 & 2) in the UK.
Thank for your great advice, I thought LORs from US physicians were the only ones that actually held value but it is good to know that working hard in the UK can also reflect well on my application.

Thank you and all the best in your future career!
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  #7  
Old 02-19-2014
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Sure, no problem. Regarding LORs, many people will tell you to get letters from U.S. physicians only. I may have taken a bit of a risk by having no U.S. physicians as my writers, but really I don't think it hurt me at all.

If you do plan to have LORs from physicians in the U.K., then I would try to make sure that they are senior physicians with important positions or who are authorities in the field. My letter writers included the director of the ER, director of psychiatry training and also the head of an inpatient psychiatry unit. I worked closely with all of them. The application selection committee will care about who wrote the letters as much (or even more than) the content. If you can get a LOR resulting from hands-on experience in the U.S. from a well-known physician in your field, that will be the best. I don't know how much real hands-on stuff you can actually do in the U.S. though.

All the best to you!
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  #8  
Old 02-20-2014
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Thanks again!

Seems like you had a great relationship with senior physicians in Australia and will take your advice on board! I will have to try and get good LORs from UK physicians once I start working!

I am also hoping to go the US for my elective in January if possible..and I believe it is hands-on if I do get a place. Will see if I can get LORs from that as well!

btw, I've been trying to follow my study plan..and it seems like I was aiming too high! I may need more time after all..

Your help and advice is greatly appreciated!
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