Here I am posting my personal experience ... hope it helps.
Exam: Mid Feb 2011
Recent IMG graduate 2009.
Now after I am done with the exam and got my results I'll reveal the plan and advices I would do or wished someone told me if I would go back and study for step 1 exam again.
I started my preparation in Oct 2009, but was doing my internship also, so was going very slow through and did readings cost me alot of time I could have saved as i will mention in the post. Starting in Sep 2010 i gave all my time for the exam was already done from the material books and started FA . During this period I did FA twice with the revision of what I studied earlier plus the question things mentioned down until my exam day in mid Feb.
Depend on First Aid
as your sole book for step 1 studying preparations. It covers more than 90 to 95 % of the exam, and you will not recall in the exam day anything else from what u studied from the other books due to the huge material filled in your brain. Any other books are just to understand things and make it easier to go through. Good Understanding of the basic concepts is the most important thing during your studying and never go through something by just recalling it and you are not knowing why and how it goes on. Then you can do questions and apply your understanding of these concepts and that helps you to make a connection between the different parts of your studying for example between physiology and pharamcology , anatomy and pathology and so on. This is my main advice.
For a detailed plan I would advise for the following:
* Anatomy: Just do high yield neuroanatomy
it much helps. ( I also did high yield gross anatomy
no need , FA is enough. But there is one thing here not mentioned in either FA or anatomy high yield which is related to the lesions caused by the roots itself not the nerves, for example let's say when there C6 lesion what would you find. i advise to read lesions related to the roots itself beside the common known lesions of the nerves ; more for the upper limb).
* Embryology and Histology : FA enough ( didn't do any thing else for this)
* Microbiology: FA enough ( I did Made Ridiculously Simple
but I advise only to do the first 3 chapters in bacteria section and first chapter in virus section in addition to AIDS drugs from the MRS. (I think FA 2011 edition covers these drugs more now).
* Immunology : FA enough. ( I did high yield but no need)
* Pharamcology: FA enough ( I did Kaplan
but I only advise to do the first 2 chapters on pharmacodynamic and kinetics , and the autonomic section, other sections you will find in the related subjects, for example antibiotics in microbiology, anytiphsycotics in behavioral science and so on)
* Biochemistry, genetics , molecular, cell biology: FA very good really and covers most of this ( i did high yield biochemistry
good short and easy book and has nutrition and molecular chapters , if you want to do genetics you can do it from kaplan)
* Pathology: FA
+ BRS Pathology
* Physiology: FA
+ BRS Physiology
* Behavioral science and Biostatistics: High yield behavioral science
and it has 2 good chapters summarize statistics.
Also did high yield statistics
(easy reading just took 3 days).
: After I finished the above studying I started FA, was going back to what i read earlier and revising what i read and adding any additional important information (which are anyways not that much bcs FA covers almost everything). You can do this during your first reading but I think it will be a little bit hard to do so. This took me 2 months.
* Then I did the Kaplan Qbook
for 2 weeks. (see below)
* Then I did a revision for the FA (second reading). Took me 3 weeks; where before the exam. Here I advise to do the last revision of the FA close to the exam date.
Question banks and books:
Here many will be surprised but i just did:
* Kaplan Qbook
( All of it, scored from early 60s to 80s , but average between 70-75 %, i think anything above 70% here is good.
* Some NBME questions from NBME1 and NBME2
* Kaplan simulated exam: did 4 blocks from it in the last 2 days before the exam, really it simulate the exam and make you feel the exam challenge aspect ( got average of around 70 %).
* USMLE 150 questions: You can download from the offical USMLE website.
Yes didn't do anything else and didn't do any Qbanks. Even so I would advise to do some questions from UW or Kaplan Qbank
for at least 2 weeks, but I didn't have time to do it.
And as I said, as long as you have good study ground, questions are just to apply the knowledge and information you gathered and to practice it.
About the exam day:
Its really a long day, be preapred for physically and psychologically. Know the location of your test center exactly. Dont forget your scheduling permit and ID/Passport. I skiped the tutorial thing ( do it at home before the exam to be familiar with). I took breaks between all the 7 blocks. In the first break I stayed in my place but didnt feel comfy during the the second block. After that i went out in all the breaks ate some sugary things drank something and came back. I dont advice to do 2 blocks sequentially At All.
With the above and after god willing you will get the double 9 in this exam
Thank you guys... Wish you all the best
Good Luck for all of you.
March 10, 2011