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USMLE Step 1 Guide

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USMLE Step 1

USMLE Step 1 Guide

Here is a nice guide written by another person about the USMLE Step 1 process. It includes a nice study schedule and information about the exam.


A word on this guide:

I just finished my second year at St. George’s University School of Medicine. Figuring out what you are going to do for the Boards is a pain in the ass and gets people nervous that they do not have a plan.  Many of them sign on to Kaplan or Falcon for this reason.  I would like to prevent as many people as possible from signing up for those courses for those reasons, as they are expensive and you are poor.  I want you to have a plan, an idea of what to expect, and all of that free.  I hope this helps.

A word on advice:

I am wary of most advice.  It is often unqualified, and by this I mean that I
do not know why I should believe in your expertise.  Did you score well and are you willing to tell me the score behind this advice?  Are you like me in that we learn, memorize, and study alike?  What works for Peter may fail for Paul and it is good to keep this in the back of your mind as everyone begins to tell you what you should and should not do.  The other problem that I have with a lot of advice is that I am not told the reason behind the conclusion.  It is easy to say, “Just do questions”, but it is much harder to give a well thought out argument to support your advice.  There may be an excellent reason, but many people do not think to ask for it or to give it.  Also, it takes a fair bit of time.  If someone says that there is a lot of Embryo on the test, please kick him in the face.  That sort of advice (even if it ends up being true) is worthless for planning.  The most frustrating part of this whole experience is that n=1 and it is hard to draw conclusions from a sample size that small.  You will wonder if you did it correctly, how you would have scored if you changed blah blah, and so on.  That leads us to why I am writing this:
Medical school is great because it is the end of decisions.  Decide to go to
medical school.  Three and a half years later: decide what kind of doctor to be.
Three to five years later: decide which job to take.  That is three decisions over ten years and medicine is great that way.  I was so tired of making decision about how to study that I wished someone had done it all for me.  This guide is meant to be a turn-off-your-brain and do-as-I-say outline so that you can save yourself from all of that.  It is the guide that I wish someone had made for me.

A word on irony:

I am aware of the irony that I am writing a little guide filled with advice
while not offering my score, telling you about myself, etc.  What I can give is my reasons for each decision so that even if you do not end up following it, you at least see the problem of planning and studying as manageable.  If you are interested, when I get my score I will post it and at that point, you can decide to continue using this guide or decide to forget everything written here.  Deal?  Now on with the show


I am assuming that you are taking six weeks to study for this test.  If it is
shorter or longer, I have structured this so that it is easy to change according to your unique schedule.  This schedule is built using the newest edition of the First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 (Systems based) as I think it is the best game in town and damn near everyone seems to own it.  We need a calendar, and we need to divide it into two main sections: cramming and pre-cramming.


Cramming is undervalued.  I took an incredibly long time to prepare (9
weeks) so that I would not have to cram because (cue lame music) I wanted to really understand the material.  Fair enough, but the last two weeks are for cramming.  You can realistically cover two topics each day.  Anything more and you are skimming.  I have good reasons for each of these choices, but first you should just take a look at what we will call “the cramming”.

The day before the test, you will be tired of studying (more so).  This is when
you are most vulnerable to total mental collapse.  A friend described it to me: “I opened up Micro to look over viruses once more before the test and I realized that I had forgotten how to read.  It was as if my head had exploded onto the table and I could not pick it back up again.  I postponed the test a week after that.”  To avoid this, I advocate taking a half-day and seeing a movie.  It was one of the few things that I did that worked.    Before you start this final sprint, take a day off.  You have earned it.  I think you should begin with Biochemistry because the meat of this subject is in the underpinnings of other diseases.  A good look in the beginning will help you interpret things later on and will reinforce the pathways that actually matter.

For more detail:

[download file=”” title=”USMLE Step 1 Guide”]

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