usmle step 1 – the season is upon us

The second years are in full swing studying for Step 1 now. They finished up with classes last week, and now are studying all hours of the day until their test date approacheth. We’ve put out coffee for them at the library, which is frankly remarked on and praised more than it is actually ingested (but it is the spirit of sharing, right?). A whole bunch of them have gone elsewhere to study–back to their hometowns, primarily–but about half have remained here and are in the library from dawn until close every day.

In honor of them, I thought I’d put together a short rundown on their study methods and sources.

Every medical school will be different, of course, but at mine, the students have dedicated study time from the end of April until mid-June. For practically all of them, the time in this period is scheduled hour by hour with what subjects they will study at what times, and what sources they will use when. The skinny that I have gotten from blatantly eavesdropping whenever they are talking about this process is that they first study their notes (generally in the form of their personal notes or better yet, a guide prepared by an upperclassman or one of the more dedicated students in their class), then move on to review books by subject (I’ll get to those in a bit), and then finally to the crowning jewel of the USMLE Step 1 review books, First Aid for the USMLE Step 1. One student in a previous class apparently laminated every page of his copy so he could read them in the shower and not waste a minute–now that’s dedication. This dedication paid off, as he is a neurosurgery resident at a very prestigious institution.

I decided to write about this topic in part because when I got my Doody’s update in my email last Friday (why no RSS, Doody’s?), First Aid was one of the reviewed books, and as always, was given only three stars. Three stars, for a book that most of my students treat as the bible of medical school–though they obviously don’t depend just on it. First Aid has got a nice little racket for themselves going on now, with the new Q and A series and the new Cases series. Students recognize the First Aid part and have started bypassing the other question books and cases books for First Aid–which cost more, and thus I feel annoyed when purchasing multiple copies. I already have to get 4-5 copies of the Step 1 every year, so I am hoping these new series won’t be annually updated.

Anyway, here are some of the books my students really like for USMLE Step 1 prep beyond First Aid:

The shelves in my library are looking nicely bare, which means that they are going way beyond these sources, but these are the favorites.

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3 responses to “usmle step 1 – the season is upon us

  1. Pingback: medical student books « omg tuna is kewl

  2. Hello,
    I am medical student of The Aga Khan University, Pakistan. Your review of study sources was highly valuable. Could you kindly inform me about the number of resources that students who aim for a 99 refer to? Are kaplan lecture notes and first aid for usmle enough?

    • They are definitely not enough, but they are a good start. The Kaplan Q Bank is very popular for questions/practice, and the First Aid is standard, but most students also use the High Yield Series, the BRS series, and many more.

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