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harlesmd Step 1 Prep Journal

8911 Views 47 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Iza1
Hi, I plan to take my exam on early May, and I have been studying for step one for 3 months. Been through Kaplan Lecture Notes twice, all videos, attended the 7 weeks live lecture and now revising FA. Here is my stat so far :

Kaplan Diagnostic Exam : 50%
Kaplan Subject Assessment (all 7 subjects) : average 84%
Kaplan Mid Exam (3 blocks : Anatomy, Biochem, Medical Genetics, Physiology) : 72%
Kaplan Final Exam (4 blocks Pathology, Pharmacology, Micro, Immuno, Behavioral) : 77%
Kaplan Qbanks (only manage to finish 40%, 1st time, mixed) : 72%
Free 143Qs USMLE sample : 87% (this sample questions is easier than Kaplan Qbanks)

Planning to finish revising FA in 2 weeks then take NBME 1 and 2 to assess my readiness to take this exam so I can set my exam date. Then start working on UW and expect to finish it in 3 weeks. I will finish up my prep by taking UWSA 1, 2 and the rest of my NBME form. I will update my progress along the way.

Please feel free to suggest my study plan, thanks
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Hi LatinGeorge, I divided the 12 weeks study time into 2 part.
1. First 5 weeks : first read of Kaplan Lecture Notes and Video
I reviewed the notes and videos based on my performance on Kaplan Diagnostic Exam. I divided the subjects into 2 categories : basic subjects (Anatomy, Biochem, Medical Genetics and Physio) and integrated subjects (Micro, Immuno, Pharmaco, Pathology and BS). I started with my weakest subject to my strongest one.
Here is the order :
Anatomy : 6 days
Biochemistry + Medical Genetics : 6 days
Physiology : 5 days
Microbiology : 4 days
Immunology : 2 days
Pharmacology : 5 days
Pathology : 5 days
Behavioral : 3 days ( I intentionally reviewed this subject last due to the nature of its contents)
Normally I studied for 10-12 hours per day, reviewed the videos together with the lecture notes. Spent the last subject review day by doing questions from Qbook.

2. The next 7 weeks was the Live Lecture.
I just followed the Live Lecture schedule, attended the class in the morning till afternoon, and reviewed the lecture notes at the evening. I think I spent almost 14 hours per day during this period, really I didn't have life outside this USMLE thing a book worm lol !!! I hope it will pay off at the end.

The Live Lectures were good though it came with expensive price (3300 usd), It seems work for me since I need different method of learning to prevent burn out syndrome. The Pharm and Pathology lecture were the best among other subjects. Again, this is not a must, if you can review the video only, it's enough. I took all subject assessment exam after each lecture to assess how much I absorbed from the lectures.

Anyway, this schedule will not work for anyone, this is just a big picture how I prepare for this exam. I still have lots of things to do. I just start revising FA for few days, I didn't really like the format, but I think I can go through it pretty fast, just to recap all the materials I've learnt from Kaplan Lecture Notes. I supplement it with MedEssentials because it contains more materials in a well organized fashion. I think both review books are supplementing each other.

Hope it helps you and wish me luck with the rest of my prep. I'm getting nervous everyday as the exam day is approaching. Just keep on supporting each other :)
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Hey, your study plan seems good as long as it worked for you and you understand everything. I think the most important part you may be missing is UWorld. I am not sure if you included it in your study schedule, but I didn't see it in there. But I assume as long as you are doing well with Kaplan Q bank, you should be good? I'm not sure but I'd include UWorld.
Hi, thx for your response. Of course I schedule UW qbank as part of my prep (maybe you overlook it at my first post), I think it's vital part of this exam. I wish I could finish it in 3 weeks as I don't have much time left.
if u compare the 7 week lecture, to the latest DVD found on the web 2010 and green notes... how much difference would u find?

by the way thanks for the explanation.. u have a very fast pace.. didnt you annotate in your fa from kaplan
As I mention above, I find Path and Pharm lecture will give lots of addition to the DVD and lecture notes, while for the rest of subjects, DVD themselves are enough.

I didn't use FA during live lecture, I only annotated my lecture notes because it was easier to follow the lecture.
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NBME 1 offline

I decided to do NBME 1 offline after reviewing 1/3 of FA, got 88.5% correct (177/200). I don't know how accurate and reliable this offline version is since no one knows the right answers. I haven't done other NBME form but I think this form is the easiest one, not really reflecting the current style of USMLE questions. That's why I prefer to use the offline version to save money. I am planning to take only NBME 3,6 and 7 online.
USMLE World Qbank today I start subscribing to USMLE World for 30 days, will be working on this qbank while reviewing First Aid. I aim for 2-3 blocks per day and expect to finish it in 3 weeks....wish me luck !!!:)
Hi vrnda,
I will try to answer your questions :
1. Kaplan live lectures are delivered by faculties, most of them have PhD/MD degree.
2. Hmm...not many students take the 14 weeks live lectures as it's more expensive and demand lots of time. I think 7 weeks live lectures is more than enough, what I learned from Kaplan that during the 14 weeks live lecture, they have some sort of small group discussion after / in between live lecture, the purpose is to retain and apply the concept you've just learned from class. I am not sure about this, better ask Kaplan about details of it.
3. Nope, I am a IMG, 3 years back, never studied USMLE before. I've just started it since early December. I did quite well during my preclinical / basic medical science coursework, so I don't feel like I am learning something new, though it's still a daunting task to review this whole materials.
4. Honestly I hate memorizing thing, learn the concept then you'll be able to answer most of questions correctly. Indeed there are questions that are pure recall, in this case you just have to review this highly volatile materials quite often. Sometimes using mnemonics help, but to memorize the mnemonics themselves takes time and sometimes can be confusing LOL. The most important thing is to practice lots of questions, start it subject-wise as you review each subject. When you proceed to another subject, keep on working on questions from materials you've just reviewed and mix it with questions from subject that you are currently reviewing. It will help you to retain the previous materials better.

Hope it answers your questions....
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r u a third year medical student? how could anatomy be reviewed only in 5 days in case of first read?
do u just read fast or u actually focus on study, i am a graduate and i see that giving less than 2 weeks for a subject like anatomy is rushing unless u study it from FA alone not from kaplan lecture notes,,,,,,
I graduated 3 years ago and I hate anatomy :D....seriously....never did very well in med school. My first read of anatomy was only 6 days (8-10 hours of focus study), I reviewed it while watching the video lecture. Of course I couldnt memorize everything in my first read, just to build foundation before attending the live lecture. During the live lecture I revised it again for the second time and planning to continuously revisiting the material while doing Qbanks.
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Should I review the lecture notes again ?

So It's been 5 days since I subscribe to USMLE world. I have done 10 blocks of mixed-timed-unused questions and averaging 79%. I like this qbanks a lot because the way they explain the answer is so good and accurate. It's definitely a great learning tools. However, I got hard time to get 70% for anatomy and physiology as I already predicted before. I am always weak at this two subjects.

Should I review the lecture notes again or just keep on working on qbank and review it from the explanation ? My target for step 1 is +250. Your suggesstion is higly appreciated, thx
Declining performance on UW

I've been doing UW for two weeks, but I notice my performance is declining. I always use timed-mixed-unused questions mode. In my first 10 blocks, I managed to score 79% on average but now after another ten blocks it starts to decline and now averaging only 77%. I expect to get higher score after doing more blocks while the fact is the opposite. I don't know what happen with me. Is this normal or I just have reached my peak performance. Has anyone have this experience ? I am worried that my performance is declining. Seems like my effort to get higher score are counterproductive :toosad:
Ok, today I just finished NBME 3 online to confirm my previous NBME score. I got 660/258 in this form. I jumped 20 points from my previous NBME score (NBME 6 online : 570/238) after 2 weeks of intensive studying and working on my weak subject (anatomy). I dont know if the level of difficulty of NBME 3 differs so much from NBME 6, but I found it relatively easier than NBME 6.

I am 4 weeks to my exam and still have to finish the remaining 50% of UW. I scored 78% on average now (ranging from 69%-86%). My another homework will be revising anatomy and BS since I still find it my weakest subjects. I am going to do NBME 7, UWSA 1 and 2 two weeks before exam.

I hope I am not burning out now and still can maintain my performance toward the end. Wish you all good luck friends.
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26 days left and I am getting anxious everyday. It's so hard to keep myself studying in this last few weeks, but I cant give up now. I still have to finish the qbanks and review my weak subjects based on UW performance.

I try to finish 3 block per day but I just manage to review 2 blocks daily. Sometimes I spend more than 4 hours to review one blocks because I really want to understand the concept behind every questions since many people reported that the exam is mainly testing your concept :eek:

Wish me luck friends....
@ harlesmd:

You are on the right tract. Keep that momentum going and kepp doing ur UW. Review your NBME notes. 26days are lots of time for UW. Don't skip anything in UW qbank, Do everything. Even 1block a day is fine, make sure you understand everything from UW. Specially, Cardiac physio and endo pathology. I had few calculation qns but more concepts. UW is the best....

I wish you the very best of luck on your exam.
Thanks friend for your encouraging post. I will keep on doing UW as my primary learning tools in this last few weeks. That two subjects mentioned above are definitely very high yield and USMLE World write lots of good challenging questions on it. Based on my UW performance so far, Cardio, Neuro and Endocrine are three organ systems that I need to strenghten on. are doing awesome!!!keep doing whatever you are doing now...that will be enough!!!
Thanks, I wish you good luck for your step 1 prep too :)
USMLE Consult Qbanks

I am using the USMLE Consult Qbank today (free subscription given as reward from USMLE forums, thanks :) I am using the Scorrelator features and it gives similar result with my current USMLE World performance, just 1% higher than my UW percentage. It also has good correlation with my last NBME score. Overall this qbank is good, it has comparable numbers of hard and easy questions in each block but some questions are extremely difficult and too picky. The explanations are much better in UW so I will stick to UW for now and use USMLE Consult primarily for assessment of my progress.
Uwsa 1

I just took UWSA 1 today and I scored 670/252. I think I really screwed the first block, I was so nervous and thinking too much for the correct answers. I think I can score better if I was more relaxed. Anyway this exam is wayyyy harder than any NBME forms that I have ever taken before.

I am 3 weeks to my exam now and just finished 60% of UW. I dont know why I am getting slower these days, my brain is numb and I just cant absorb more materials:eek:. I think I have to take a break for one day.

This is to recap my progress so far :

UW (60% completed) : 78%

Free USMLE Sample questions : 87% (3 weeks ago)
NBME 6 : 580/238 (2 weeks ago)
NBME 3 : 660 / 258 (1 weeks ago)
UWSA 1 : 670 / 252 (today)

I am going to do UWSA2 two weeks before my exam date and another NBME form one week before exam. I havent decided yet which form to take, probably I'll just stick to my earlier plan to take NBME 7.

For all step 1 takers, keep your spirit high !!!!
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yeah def do NBME 7 since itll be the best predictor..I hear UWSA over predicts your score by up to 20 points.

So far Id say NBME 6 is your best predictor!
Yeah I believe UWSA tend to overpredict your score since they might repeat some questions you have encountered in the qbanks but in my case, I havent finished all the qbanks so I didnt see them much in UWSA1 (only 1-2 questions were exactly the same). I cant tell you much now, definitely I will confirm it with NBME 7.

Good luck with your prep:)
hey harlesmd, your progress is amazing and keep up the good work. I'm also experiencing the burn out and thinking I have forgotten tons:( But I'm sure it will come back. I had a question. How did you revise anatomy? I'm doing really bad in anatomy and need to review it. Did you go back to kaplan? Thanks and keep going strong:)
Thanks Nicki, I just reviewed Kaplan Lecture Notes and videos (not all, only the neuroanatomy sections, brachial and lumbosacral plexuses). I am learning lots of materials too from UW.
Exam in two weeks

My exam is in two weeks. Today I just finished 85% of UW, all unused-timed-mixed-blocks and averaging 80%, there are 330+ questions (around 7 blocks) left in there which I will use for full exam simulation tomorrow. I think this is the right time to test my endurance for 7 blocks in a row. I am used to do 3-4 blocks in a row during NBME and UW blocks, but never try to simulate the full lenght exam.

I am confuse whether I have to read FA or review my Kaplan Lecture Notes for final revision. Some people suggest me not to read new book in the last few weeks before exam so I am thinking of reviewing my lecture notes, but I feel insecure if I dont read FA, I am afraid I will miss some high yield things from it. I am so tempted to read FA. Sure I dont have time to review both of it, I should choose one and stick with it. Moreover, I still have to review my UW notes and few blocks of UW that I havent reviewed. Oh gosh...I feel like I have so many things to do...but at the same time I feel burned out already....:toosad:
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Dude your pacing is just inspiring !!! Dont get burned up ! you can do it !! u have improvedso much in such a short time !
Hei dude, thanks for your comment :), of course I wont give up now, I am not even entering the real battle :))...
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