Been meaning to write this for the last few days, but didnt have the time thanks to a lot of travelling and other post exam revelries
Brief introduction- IMG, graduate of 2012, from India, Step 1 taken in January with a score of 243. Pending CS. Planning on applying for 2015 match.
Preparation- Started proper prep around March 2013, with a lot of distractions that popped up here and there that dragged me away from my preparation schedule for a few days.
Did all KLN notes once along with the videos (except for BS and ethics where i just read my step 1 KLN again). Medicine is useful in a lot of places, especially for people who aren't strong with their concepts, and for people who like learning and tend to retain information better by listening instead of plain reading. If anything atleast Conrad Fischer's videos must be seen. I'm a huge fan of his teaching methodology!
Along with my KLN read, i did MTB 2 and 3. (for all subjects), annotating the MTBs with points from kaplan i found MTB deficient in. In fact MTB has some topics completely missing when compared to KLN, especially in Paeds and Surgery.
It may seem in a lot of places that the MTBs are just a rip off from KLN, structured in a more condensed, board review friendly form. That might be true, but i'd suggest people to still stick with the reading of KLN and MTB at the same time because every single extra point you come across in KLN could be vital. Also this double reading helps reinforce facts.
The Surgery videos can be given a pass. The latter half of the surgery KLN contains a verbatim reproduction of his lecture videos rendering the watching of his videos pointless and boring. The Q&A format of the last half of KLN was useful though, and contained quite a bit of info lacking in the MTBs. Especially in orthopedics.
For OB/GYN i made an exception and used KLN as my primary source through and through. It might seem daunting because of the size, but its definitely worth it, especially when its accompanied by the videos, because that guy is good. MTB 3 is a very close reproduction of OB GYN KLN though, so substituting that with MTB 3 should suffice too.
For paeds, the videos are a must avoid!! The KLN is ok, but seemed highly vague and lengthy (i dont know if i truly felt that or if i was influenced by other posters here!). But i stuck through KLN for paeds and annotated my MTBs as always.
Psychiatry videos are decent, but can be skipped if you're having a lack of time. The KLN for psych is a must read and contains info not seen in MTB.
BS and ethics i stuck to step 1 notes. Once glance at the step 2 notes told me it was the exact same thing, so i moved on.
After i did one read of all subjects from KLN and MTB i took NBME 4 (2.5 months before my exam) and scored 234, which i thought was decent, and knew that after tackling UW my scores will rise (similar experience to step 1 for me)
So after 2 months of doing UW painstakingly (which involved extensive note taking, further annotating of my primary resources and re-reading topics i felt iffy with), it was already less than 10 days to my exam.
UW cumulative 77% (note to people who might not know, UW performances per block can fluctuate phenomenally. I ranged from a high of 89% to a low of 66% once. My advice is dont take it to heart, but just learn from it)
NBME 4 (2.5 months before exam)- 234
UWSA (week before exam)- 260
NBME 6 (5 days before exam)- 265
NBME 2 (3 days before exam)- 250 (still kinda worries me!)
I had to travel to a different city for my exam, and was taking advantage of the hospitality of a couple of friends who lived in the area. Disadvantage of staying with friends right before an exam of this kind is, from the moment i landed and met them, i was guaranteed i wasnt going to touch my books again. End result was that my last 2 days i did not read a word from my books or notes.
I managed to get a good nights sleep the night before. I had stocked up on biscuits, power bars, redbull, sandwiches to gorge on in between breaks (i'm not much of a tea/coffee person, but if you are, do take a flask of the beverage of your choice!)
The exam per se was a mixed bag. Being a week after my exam, the memories are kinda murky. My block divisions were mostly 44 questions when there wasnt a drug abstract or advertisement question, but when there were drug abstract/ad questions with 2 questions the block length reduced to 43, and if it was 3 questions then block length reduced to 42. I got abstract questions in 4 blocks overall.
My first block was relatively easy till around the 25th question, following which it was tricky. 2nd and 3rd block was tricky and hard, 4th, 5th and 6th seemed easier while 7th and 8th were hard as well.
To address a common fear, the drug questions are definitely doable and not out of this world. It just requires good time management and the ability to scan through the question and the drug abstract fast to get a general overview of what info you need to get. My advice would be leave such questions for the last, making sure you have 10 minutes on the clock for those questions. Read the questions first before going to the abstract so that you know what to look for. And the questions are just testing your biostats knowledge, nothing else. Keep that in mind! The drug ad questions on UW are definitely the best exposure you can get to tackling such questions.
Its hard for me right now to really pinpoint a certain distribution with respect to the topics or even subjects tested. There were a fair share of image questions, right from derm to Xrays, CTs and MRIs and a few EKGs. Most of which is covered by UW i feel. (i have prior clinical experience of some sort, so that helped i assume). The EKGs weren't out of this world either. The auscultation questions were actually really easy and straightforward. I had a video question too (Not sure if i can divulge what the video was about or not here)
Final thoughts- The exam is hard, but do-able. Do not go in to the exam thinking you'll be familiar with all the questions, or even half of them. Most of the questions require educated
The exam is a real test of stamina and time management. Stamina can only be built up by practising multiple block testing at home recreating testing conditions. (do not overdo it risking burn out)
Time management is crucial. Someone mentioned in their exam experience here a few weeks back that step 2 CK is a test of your intuitive and reflexive answering skills, and i couldnt have put it better myself! There is no time on the exam to re-read questions, second guess your instincts etc. Mark the answer as you see fit, if you are unsure, mark it, and move on. If you have time at the end, get back to those mark questions for a 2nd go.
Do not do blocks simultaneously (my experience here), you might feel fresh enough for starting another block straightaway, but thats the time when the risk of errors are high i believe. Take a break at your seat if you feel like it (avoid the time wasting in signing in and out and getting magic wand-ed).
Thats all i can really think of now. Questions, as always, are welcome.
Lets hope i get a good score on october 16th (when i predict my score will come ; 3rd wednesday). At the end of it all, i could score a 190-260 on the exam and i wouldnt be surprised because its hard to judge your performance on such exams.
Now i'm off to take a little break before i tackle CS!