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 my inexpensive step 1 prep (99/274)  



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  • 100/5
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Author37 Posts
  #1

Congrats on an excellent score!
Just wanted to know, regarding your question banks:
-Did you do Kaplan QBank all random as well?
-How far out did you start each bank?
-How many questions did you do per day and how much time spent on reviewing blocks.
-At what point did you start doing questions and how were your scores initially?

Very appreciative of the detailed prep and thanks in advance.




  #2

CONGRATULATIONS...!!!!smiling face

VERY WELL DESERVED.....That's to me a earth-shattering score as yet....GR8 SCORE INDEED! Pray for me that I also get that much score..INSHALLAH! May I introduce myself to you.....I'm Dr.Mansoor from Pakistan, have just graduated, and am doing my internship, about to give my Step1...but am not yet as confident to sit for it. Well, I look forward to getting your help in future and seeking assistence as to the amount of time that should be required for an effective and well armoured test prep....what time did you take overall in preparing for the test??? Did you not go thru the High-yield series books? as some suggest them to be must-have companions....

Thnx...

Enjoy yourraised eyebrowHistorically Marvelous Scores....!!! shockedU DESERVE IT......

HAPPY CHRISMAS TO ALL....


  #3

....Yeh I also wanted to know as to your exam date ????and score report date....how long after exam?


  #4

thank you...

to defcon8: of all the available qbanks, i did just the two--usmleworld qbank and kaplan qbook... ergo, one was online, the other one was not... i did not register for other online qbanks, not even kaplan, because, like i said, i wanted to make my prep as inexpensive as possible... everytime i finished a subject in kaplan, i would take the self-assessment questions from their qbook... even at the beginning, i already started to take such self-assessment tests in timed mode because we all know that that's how the real MLEs are gonna be... i figured, if i could develop the ability to think on my toes that early, then that's one more advantage for me come exam day... as for usmleworld, they had 2,081 questions all in all, which i was able to finish in 8 days (it's doable, really)... i did it in random 48s, all timed mode... i wanted to simulate the exam as much as i could... other than these 2, i also took the time to look over the usmle.org practice exams. you can score a couple of free points from those, if you're lucky (it's a tip i got from a previous test-taker), but like i said, the practice exams were easier compared to kaplan's and usmleworld's...

in short, i answered the kaplan qbook questions everytime i finished a subject. usmleworld--i took that after i finished all kaplan step1 books and first aid... since the kaplan qbook was divided into the specific subject areas, i did not get to take those at random, but i did all of the segments in timed mode... it felt like i was always running a race, but the advantage to that is that you get yourself used to that pace early on, and it paid off for me during the actual exam because the vignettes there, esp. if you got those about chronic diseases, were really detailed...

as for reviewing my answers--i highlighted only those that i was not familiar with and those questions where i got the answers right by guessing. if something was already too familiar, i'd skip it. of the 2 qbanks, obviously, i had no problem taking notes from the kaplan qbook because it was a readily accessible book... however, because usmleworld was too big on copyright infringement and such, i just made short notes on yellow paper (while reading the answer key) and compiled them in a folder. we can't copy-and-paste from the usmleworld, now, can we? again, those that i'm already very familiar with, i'd just note using a few keywords to remind myself later that they would also be most likely to come out in the exam... those that seemed like i have not encountered them before, i took note of with more attention and detail... i'm telling you, some of those questions were really a gold mine (clap clap clap to the usmleworld people)... i'd usually spend 30-45 minutes going over the answer key for each block...

i did not try to answer usmleworld before i finished all step 1 books. if i did that, that's not testing what i know--that's just finding out how lucky i was at guessing... nobody wants a doctor who thrives on that! and guessing is totally different from intuition or anticipation, which is what is needed in patient care... so much for my philosophics... it's really up to you...

back to usmleworld... on my first-ever question block, i got an 81%... my two lowest scores were 69 and 67 (i think)... those were the 2 exams where i had the longest vignettes and encountered the most number of new concepts and tough cardio audio... most of my scores, however, were in the low- to mid-80s... i had scored 5x in the mid-90s... my average fell to 82% when there was this one day that i had an 8/10 PMS-related headache all day that wouldn't go away until i took dolcet... sorry for oversharing... anyway, i scored mid- to high-70s that day... just goes to show how important it is to be in the best mood on exam day... thank God I was on my exam day...

after doing all usmleworld questions, i had 5-6 days left to go over my most important notes one last time. i didn't want to postpone my exam anymore, so i forced myself to study 12-14 hrs daily in my final week... i know! some people would never approve! but then again, that's me--tough under pressure (just not so much when in pain )... i made sure to rest in the latter half of the day before exam day, though... i gave priority to the following: neuro pathways, micro tables on immunology, HIV, and virus families, biochem pathways in Harper, pics in textbooks such as Moore, Robbins, and Manter and Gatz (these are my old books, that's why i didn't feel the need to panic for not having goljan or the audios of kaplan... because i already had the weapons, so to speak...), then my highlighted notes on the qbook, first aid, and usmleworld...

prep time, all in all, was 2 months and then some... but like i said on my earlier post, i had just taken the Philippine boards a few months prior, and i had already been reading Snell and BRS back then... kaplan's main advantage over those other reviewers would be the emphasis on neuro, embryo, genetics, psych, histo, and immunology, which are low-yield subject areas for our local board exams, but are very important for the USMLE board examiners...

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Heard a singer on the radio late last night, said he's gonna kick the darkness til it bleeds daylight...


Edited by warriorprincess on Dec 25, 2009 - 7:41 AM. : addendum

  #5

Thank you for the quick reply, I found it very useful. I don't have any other questions at the moment, but will let you know if I think of any. Merry Christmas!


  #6

to dr mansoor: i took the exam just within the last month, and i got my score in 3 weeks... all that time, i was going from confident about passing to not thinking about it at all and plunging into step 2 prep to going totally nuts over how i really did... i half-expected the score report to be like a slap in the face, so i prayed, dearly prayed... God is good, all the time, no matter what holy name we call Him in...

i'm not familiar with your system in pakistan, but if time is not an issue with you and if you want to be licensed in your country before going to the US, i say go for it... it did me a lot of good in my MLEs, having taken our local boards a few months prior... so in addition to the 2 months it took me to read kaplan (+their qbook), i also did 2 1/2 months of reading both the basics and the clinics for our own boards, and 4 months later, during my MLEs, the stuff was still quite fresh in my mind...

when i have a big exam like this, i don't mess around with my chances of passing by juggling it with some brain-draining activity, like internship... so if i were you, don't! i agree with the other previous test-takers who said that it doesn't matter how much time you put into the thing as long as you make each second count! if i were you, i'd take, say, 2-3 months doing nothing else but mastering your chosen reviewers... that is, after intenship...

as for the reviewers, i'm not sure which "high-yield books" you are referring to. in my case, i essentially had the advantage of having read two review books for almost all subjects, again, owing to the fact that i just recently took the local board exams. i'm not suggesting that you prep for each subject by reading/mastering two books at a time in the few months that you must take to concentrate for the MLEs, unless you had at least 4-6 months of prep time. cramming all that material in shorter time might just make you crazy. that's why i'm suggesting that you take a local board exam first prior to the MLEs, so you can sort of practice on that... i've said before that kaplan books have less detail in them (although they're no less useful) than what is needed to have a score of 99 (i suppose that's your target, right?), but they do mold your way of thinking to be right on the mark for the MLEs... so if you want a 99, go ahead and choose other books to supplement your kaplan readings...

for me, i found the following to be the highest yield: usmleworld and first aid... these are the only absolute must-haves for me...

kaplan books are another set of absolute must-haves, but in a different way... like i keep saying, it's kaplan that will teach you HOW TO THINK for the MLEs... but, except for the ana and micro books, they're not necessarily high-yield...

other books that i've read for my boards that i also benefitted from during my prep: snell for ana (but kaplan's ana was already high-yield for me), BRS for the rest...

i think, among the BRS series, patho was the most highly rated by first aid, only a few points short of goljan's. that's comparing them as stand-alone reviewers. i'm not saying that you should substitute it for goljan, esp. if others keep saying that the latter is the best for patho. remember that what i tried to do here was economize... i already read BRS, then gave kaplan patho a go, so why should i panic for not having goljan? the latter would only be the best compared to the others if it was read as a stand-alone. i obviously went further than having the best stand-alone by reading two sufficiently detailed substitutes... but of course, i read them 3 months apart... then i supplemented my readings with Robbins' pics, which i would have done with or without goljan... but you don't have to do it my way... do what you think is best for you...

the following is a commentary on the rest of my reviewers:

BRS biochem was rated highly by some US students, although it didn't emphasize genetics as much as kaplan did... used alone, it's not very high-yield... kaplan can be used as a stand-alone, but make sure to have mastered harper's pathways to supplement (which is, if you were a good med student, something you should have done a long time ago ) this is very important, i think, because some of the questions in biochem may be a little tricky or confusing after the first read, but when you analyze them more deeply (like if you had, unrealistically, during the actual exam, an hour for each biochem question), you'd know that the best answer is the one that is linked, no matter how remotely, in a pathway to the substrate/chemical/hormone/shish kebab in question... if you have time during internship, invest it in re-learning and mastering the biochem pathways... it will definitely come in handy!

BRS physio--by costanzo? i would have been just as fine with using kaplan as a stand-alone. although the discussion on cardio, hormones, and receptors in BRS was good, and the comprehensive exam useful to some extent... the discussion in neuro here was... well... forgettable... sticking to kaplan is just as good a plan for neurophysio and neuroana...

BRS micro... again--kaplan is the only resource you need... if you want a supplement, just look for a good micro picture book. Robbins has some good pictures under infectious diseases. if you have to go back to undergrad books in bio and micro, do that! in my case, we had jawetz as a textbook, but it did not have many useful pictures. however, i have a collection of micro pictures from previous lectures and lab sessions... you definitely need pictures of pathogens for the MLEs...

BRS pharma--discusses irrelevant figures too much (half-lives, dosage, half-lives again, % of the population forming a rare adverse reaction), but when it comes to the formulas that you really need (Vd, LD, etc.), the explanation is less than satisfactory... however, it has more relevant information on more need-to-know drugs than kaplan does... at least, my version of kaplan was stripped of bits of info that i thought should have been there, like more antihelminthic drugs, more antineoplastics, more antiarrhythmics, etc... luckily, i read about them on BRS...

for behavioral science, i did not have an alternative book... i just had kaplan... we had bits and pieces of bioethcs in our local boards... it's not worth the effort to look for more here, because, as the kaplan experts would say, the best answer in bioethics is the one that is both legal and ethical... psych problems are usually easily recognizable... kaplan can be used as a stand-alone for this subject...

i can't claim to be an expert in these books, but this is just my opinion based on my exam experience. i would rather refer you to the section on recommended textbooks at the end of first aid... theirs is a more comprehensive and objective discussion on the different review books...

------


Heard a singer on the radio late last night, said he's gonna kick the darkness til it bleeds daylight...


  #7

yep, merry christmas, too... i'm on a break from reading, at least until tomorrow morning, so i was able to reply right away...


good luck on your MLEs, the both of you!


------


Heard a singer on the radio late last night, said he's gonna kick the darkness til it bleeds daylight...


  #8

to dr mansoor: i know someone else who scored better -- a 278, and he's already written much stuff on the dangers of some coxibs we know...


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Heard a singer on the radio late last night, said he's gonna kick the darkness til it bleeds daylight...


  #9

congrats

i wanted to ask how much time you took preparing for the test


  #10

hey congrats on the great score!!


  #11

@Warriorprincess

congrats!! great score ....
What was your approach towards studying Snell, Harper ?
Did you read these books cover to cover or just focussed on high yield info ?
Do you think BRS patho enough to score 250+ in step 1 ?



  #12

what kind of a student were you in Med School?

where did you find about the "278" guy?


  #13

Congratulations!!!!


WOW nod


  #14

Thank You Warriorprincess......for an invaluably in-depth analysis of the review books that may come in handy for my upcoming exam...I appreciate it! However, kept on my study shelf are such books as FA'09, for physio BRS, Kaplan and Baby Guyton. For Patho its Kaplan, Goljan book & Audio. For Behv BRS, Kaplan. For Pharma Kaplan, Trevor's. Kaplan books for others as well........

My internship is to end afew days from now. Come new year, I 'm gonna start formally for my Step1 study. The internship xprnc was surely time-consuming and a sort of clinical oriented, meaning that more of a responsibility executing job it was. Thanks that it's over now. Now that it's over, I would now be setting off for the new voyage with all seriousness.By the way the internship has proffered me an opprtunity and an ability, so to say, to interpret the clinical vignettes put up for step1. My seniors who r pursuing their residencies now in US, advised me much earlier that I don't entertain the internship as that time should be crucially tamed for step1 prep. But I had to go for it even then bcz I had to support myself monetarily to get going as the internship is being paid in our country. Moreover, Internship is an unavoidable thing for our Medical Licencing Body to recognize and register us as physicians.

Well, all having been said, I'm all geared to go. Yeh, u guessed rite. I'm intent on getting the 99 Inshallah! hence have spent a considerable amount of time looking out for the high-voltage inspirations of ones with 99+ scores.... Wat really puzzles me whiling studying Physio is Graphs...although not many r difficult but specially those from membrane transport channel..also, whenever i encounter graphical Qs in simulated exams, I'm doomed to perform worst...Do they give handsome no: of such Qs?? In addition, I would like u to email me your score transcript sent by ecfmg so that I would learn about individual subject performance bands by u....Only if u like! What were your subject weaknesses in exam???? Could u also tell me as to which subjects I should start with....????I have started Physio......

Would love to hear from You soon.......

G.day..!!!!

Dr.Mansoor


  #15

Congrats! and thanks alot for the detailed post. GL ahead!


  #16

Sorry for the delayed reply… I had to go back to reading for step 2 after Christmas…
To ahmedalm: it took me around 7 weeks reading all Kaplan books… within those weeks, I made a “second read,” but it was done fast, like, 1-2 days per book. Then I spent 2 weeks on UW, FA, and other stuff that I wanted to include in my review that I thought would come out, like, patho and micro pictures… before that, I’ve already studied for our local boards, which took me around 2 ½ months… for the rest of my story, read my previous posts
To rfm, drsaima and Rx: thank you…
To manu_2007: I was able to read Snell from cover to cover (this is the Snell reviewer for gross anatomy, without histo, embryo, and neuro) during my local board exams… some of the stuff there, though, conflicted with Kaplan, so there were times when I had to make a decision as to which of the two books I was going to follow come exam day. Usually, I would verify the conflicting info with Moore… the FA team, however, places Snell among the rank-B books because the approach is kind of obsolete, and I quite agree. It helped me anyway in the sense that it helped me master the systems that Kaplan might as well have left out, like, the MSS, ENT, and GI… I can’t claim to be a radiology expert, but it’s only because I know a lot about the anatomy of these areas that I was able to identify structures on the weird angios and MRIs that I had on my exam... and I had several plates that were tons weirder than the ones you would find on UW!
Harper—just to clarify, this is the good ol’ textbook… I’m not sure if Harper’s come out with his own reviewer, that’s why I had to say that … anyway, ever since first year med, I’ve always turned to that book like it was the Bible. I’ve never tried reading it from cover to cover, though, because in the first place, not all of the information there is relevant, not in exams, not in the wards… however, those that ARE, I made sure to retain in my memory. I memorized the pathways—glycolysis, anaplerotic reactions, catecholamine synthesis, gluconeogenesis, etc. You should not only memorize the substrates, but also the limiting reactions and where and when they take place in the cell… there were tables as well that were helpful… if consulting Harper was not your cup of tea during med school, and you find yourself now cramming all this information within a few months, it might help to just make Kaplan your guide to choosing which pathways and tables to memorize… that’s your high-yield info there…
BRS Patho—no, at least not on its own. That’s why I read Kaplan, too, and then browsed the Robbins book and CD. The captions of the photos were just as helpful as the photos themselves. I would have browsed Robbins too even if I had another book, like goljan. I suggest that if you go book shopping, skim at least the table of contents and a few chapters, then compare… I had a friend of mine show me her goljan last Christmas… it does have advantages over BRS if it’s the only book you’re going to read… but if you ask me, you’re the only one who can decide which book suits your study style best… if you’re the type to have textbooks as well as reviewers open while studying, then it really won’t matter which one of the rank-A books you get… besides, there are subjects other than patho that you should prep for as well if you want to have a 250+ score…
To crimsonboy: The “278” guy is my aunt’s colleague in the US… I look up to him because he taught me a trick in solving quartic equations when I was taking quantum mechanics in college… I was kind of not-so-ordinary, as you can see… but I still did have to work my butt off in step 1… it’s just that a quarter of the effort went into economizing. that’s the reason why I started this thread anyway, because a lot of gorgeous people I know have this mistaken notion that there’s only one way to slice a turkey, and that is to spend all your parents’ money (or your savings) on getting a golden knife. I just don’t subscribe to that belief. If you don’t want to shell out any more than you think you have to for this exam, then don’t. Just be creative with making substitutions…
To dr mansoor: You have an impressive collection… most of the graphical stuff that I encountered in my exam, it turned out, was not in physio, but in problems linking genetics and micro together, then biochem and pharma together, then pharma and psych together… I can’t say more because we’re all under oath not to divulge the exam questions, right? physio was there alright, but none of my exam questions were action-potential related, if that’s what you mean. But everyone has a different set of exams, I think, randomly generated from the USMLE’s legions-deep qbank, so there’s not much of a point in comparing… as for my weaknesses in the exam, let’s just say that I had 2 subjects without an asterisk on them, but they were not borderline—behavioral science and respiratory system. The first one, I expected. The second, I’m not sure why…
Heard a singer on the radio late last night, said he's gonna kick the darkness til it bleeds daylight...



  #17

@Warriorprincess,
Thank you for your reply.
As you said Kaplan Notes have less details in them if the aim is to score a 99.
Do you think Kaplan notes + First aid + Goljan/BRS path + UW will be enough to score a 99 ?
did you find BRS physio enough to answer the physio questions in the exam ?
Do you recommend doing questions from Robbins review of Pathology ?
I found Goljan/BRS path not stressing much upon the morphological aspects in pathology . Does the the exam stress on the morphological aspects ?
please suggest some books to study the X rays, MRIs, CT scan pics that are encountered in the exam ?


  #18

if you're willing to put in that kind of effort, you may just get a 99 ... make sure to browse pictures too along the way, because the exam is mighty clinical... robbins review of patho--that would be okay too, since it can help you recognize diseases faster. but don't devote your efforts solely to patho, because in my exam, all the subjects and major organ systems were fairly well represented... i got more genetics questions than i expected, for example...

between BRS physio and Kaplan, kaplan is still better... i found only a few sections useful in BRS physio, but not to the extent that i would've done dismally in my exam if i've never read it. the parts that you really need for the MLEs are still better discussed by the kaplan series. BRS has neurophysio, but the discussion has a lot of loopholes which were, luckily for me, better addressed by kaplan physio+anatomy. even the graphs in fluids, muscle physio, and cardio--they were all better discussed by kaplan. if you have extra time and you want to spend it on physio, spend it mastering kaplan or doing qbanks instead. you can drop BRS physio altogether.

as for your other questions in patho, what do you mean "morphology?" because that can mean anything... are you asking about lesion description? don't worry so much about the itsy bitsy details of lesions because that's not the way the questions are formulated. rather, i think you should be able to master the ability to recognize diseases when you're given only 4-5 of their symptoms and what kind of lab results they produce. that's how the vignettes are written, as if they want you to see the patient as a whole... anyway, if they want to ask you about lesions, they'd rather show you a slide or try to confuse you by giving one that's only vaguely described.

i didn't have a radio book for step 1, so i can't recommend one. i was able to master pictures (mastery is really the key, even if you have only a few weapons) from the following though:
  • Moore: if you're so used to looking at anatomy pictures--something that i've been doing since first-year med--radio pictures will not daunt you so much because it's just like seeing the colored atlas pictures in black and white...
  • FA, Harrison, and IM blueprints for the pathologic xrays...
  • i also borrowed my friend's personal collection of pedia and adult xrays and CTs back in August, which, although pretty limited, was quite high-yield because they were handed down to her by one of our radio residents who took the MLEs and is now on a radio fellowship in Florida...

in my exam, pathologic xrays were not so complicated, not even when the view was a non-standard one, and they would usually be preceded by a long vignette describing the patient's case, such that by the time you finish reading it, you won't need the xray anymore, or even if you did, it's just to rule out your top differential. i had RDS and TEF (with the classic presentation of the OGT reaching only the top half of the neck!) in 2 babygrams--if you're not able to recognize those anywhere, GOD, where were you during clerkship, huh? they'd give you only things that were normally encountered during clerkship, so don't stress yourself out too much on that (words of wisdom from my upperclassmen )... i had only the above books during my review for the local boards, and they were enough for me during the MLEs... i didn't have time to check out any books devoted solely to radio, so i can't recommend one...

it would be worth your while to master anatomy pictures... radio-related ana questions on the exam were more complicated than pathologic radio... i kind of expected that because if they hadn't done that, the question would have been too easy...

happy new year everyone...

------

Heard a singer on the radio late last night, said he's gonna kick the darkness til it bleeds daylight...


  #19

Thanks for your valuable advice.
Which book do you recommend for behavioural sciences ?

Happy new year....


  #20

the behavioral sciences part can be divided into psych, ethics, com/fam med, right?

for psych, kaplan is enough for knowledge base, but it might help you to get another psych book with practice questions just to see if you're analyzing the cases right... i have BRS psych, but the cases there are too few, and the answer key is not satisfactory... so get another! i got my old professors' exams to practice on... that's me, queen of economy... sticking out tongue

for ethics--the way to approach the questions was very well phrased by kaplan--"the best answer is the one that is both legal and ethical..." every decent human being must have the natural instincts for that nod for knowledge base, kaplan was enough for me... for practice, it was all UW and FA!!! more of the former, because i finished all 2,081 questions... kaplan's qbook helped a bit too... grin but if i were you, i'd look for even more practice questions on this part because, like i've said before, behavioral science was my weaker subject alongside--according to my score report--RESPI!!! raised eyebrow and i attribute it more to this part than psych or com/fam med, which were both my favorites in med school alongside ana and biochem. maybe it’s because the other two are, as sciences, more exact than ethics, or i still haven’t got my way of thinking americanized enough… because of course, you’re taking this exam to get into their system, right? so you have to think the way their home-bred doctors do. and i suppose, i’m still not like them yet, ethically speaking... grin


for com/fam med--kaplan was more than enough, at least for me... i encountered only 2 questions needing formulas, and they weren't very hard... if you have a com med question and was able to master the formulas of kaplan, be thankful because they're usually simpler than the ones coming from pharma and biochem... that's a couple of easy points for you... and as long as you've mastered the definition/application of terms such as "incidence," "odds ratio," etc., this part would be a bit easy...

------


Heard a singer on the radio late last night, said he's gonna kick the darkness til it bleeds daylight...



Edited by warriorprincess on Dec 31, 2009 - 1:40 PM. : it just came out wrong when i posted it...




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