Hello dear future doctors:
My name is Medhat Farwati, a graduate from the University of Aleppo, and I would like to write about my humble Step 1 experience.
At first, I want to tell you about my experience “as it is” with its positives and negatives and at the end I will tell you about the things I think I should have done differently….
I started studying for the board exams relatively late starting half of second semester of 5th year and I spent 2 years studying for Step 1 with many ONs & OFFS because of end of semester exams, national exams, and graduation paperwork. This means that my studying can be generally divided into 3 phases:
PHASE 1: Pre-graduation phase (Phase of building the foundations):
At first, I went through Kaplan Lecture Notes for USMLE Step 1 twice (videos only once with the first pass) for all the subjects (except for Pathology) and here I did UWORLD once along with second pass of Kaplan.
For pathology, I did Fundamentals of Pathology – Hussein Sattar (Pathoma) with Rapid Review Pathology by Edward Goljan at the same time (I used to watch Dr. Sattar’s videos) who’s one of the best tutors for his ability to explain concepts in an unprecedented way. After that, I would read the respective chapter in Pathoma followed by the respective chapter in Goljan. Despite the fact that Goljan seemed like a big textbook, didn’t find it difficult to go through it since I already covered and understood most of the points in Pathoma and Goljan only added few additional points.
After that point, I started First Aid (which means late) and I copied the important points from Kaplan and UWORLD to my First Aid (and here was my second pass of UWORLD).
PHASE 2: Post-graduation phase (Duration of 4 months: Phase of actual focused studying):
Here, I started getting deep into understanding First Aid in all of its details until I understood all the points instead of blindly memorizing those points. Note that I did not study all of the resources that I will list shortly from cover to cover but I used them to understand the subjects that I thought I was weak in.
Behavioral Sciences: I used 100 cases for Conrad Fischer (Kaplan USMLE Medical Ethics)
Physiology: I used Physiology by Linda Costanzo to understand respiratory + cardiovascular + renal +GI systems physiology
Anatomy: I used the High Yield Gross Anatomy in addition to a beautiful small book called Shelf Anatomy
Pharmacology: I used Conrad Fischer’s Master the Boards USMLE Step 1 Pharmacology Flashcards. At times, I also used the internet to understand some of the concepts. Here also, I copied most of the important points to my First Aid.
PHASE 3: Pre-exam phase (Duration of 3 months: Phase of reaching 270+)
It is the phase of “putting it all together” and connecting all the information acquired during the past 2 phases most of which are present in my First Aid USMLE Step 1 by now. I mainly used the internet during this phase especially Wikipedia + Medscape + UpToDate in addition to several other websites.
I repeated First aid 3 times during this phase (once every month) and each time it took me at least one full month to go through it since I added additional information and new concepts to increase my knowledge every time I did FA. (In other words, I tried to add new concepts instead of focusing on the old stuff that was repeated more than once and that wasn’t going to add anything to my knowledge).
Now, I am going to state the mistakes that I did so that you don’t fall into doing them again:
1- Starting late with board studying due to not setting goals from the beginning 4 I advise you to set your goals early on and start studying for Step 1 starting 3rd year.
2- Not copying the important points from Kaplan and UWORLD during the first reading of First Aid which forced me to do the job twice and waste time 4 Copy everything to First Aid from the first reading.
3- Starting late with First Aid 4 I advise you to start early as follows:
First go through the Kaplan videos, then First Aid for USMLE Step 1, and finally the Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes books in addition to the important points from First Aid).
4- Rote memorization of First Aid without real comprehension from the first reading 4 Try to understand most of the points in First Aid from the first reading so that you save a lot of time for later on).
At the end, I would like to emphasize that every person has his own way of studying and that there is not a perfect studying method… I advise you to ask about others’ experiences and make good use of them, but at the end
Do it your own unique way!! Be yourself, everyone else is already taken!!
RESOURCES USED :
+ Kaplan Lecture Notes for USMLE Step 1
+ First Aid for USMLE Step 1
+ Fundamentals of Pathology – Hussein Sattar (Pathoma)
+ Physiology by Linda Costanzo
+ Rapid Review Pathology
+ 100 cases for Conrad Fischer (Kaplan USMLE Medical Ethics)
+ High Yield Gross Anatomy
+ Conrad Fischer’s Master the Boards USMLE Step 1 Pharmacology Flashcards