View Full Version : What preparation materials should I use for the USMLE Step 1
06-28-2001, 06:05 AM
I am going to be starting at a Canadian medical school in the fall, but I am thinking about writing the USMLE. The problem is that I am not sure how to go about that. From what I have read up to now, it looks like I would have to write the exam after second year. As for registration and preparation, I guess that it would be pretty similar to what it was like for the MCAT (registration through the AAMC and a lot of self-preparation/prep-courses and practice exams). It's still kind of early for me, but I would really like to get informed asap. Does anyone have any more insight about this?
Edited the subject title to make it more descriptive. -Ian
06-28-2001, 08:16 AM
You should start at www.usmle.org (http://www.usmle.org)
That will give you all the basic info you need. Basically, you just register and prep like for MCATs. The test, however, is on computer.
I'm thinking of taking a prep course back in Canada for step 1 of USMLE. I'd like to know if Kaplan or Princeton Review have live-lecture prep courses in Canadian cities. Which courses would you recommend and why? Thanks.
I wouldn't waste my time with prep courses. They are very time consuming and you won't get much out of them. The majority of people in the US use Kaplan QBank which is an online database of 2000 USMLE style questions, and then use first aid for the USMLE as a guide. I would buy BRS Pathology, Clinical Microbio made Ridiculously Simple, and the High Yield series, and just memorize those books inside out.
01-09-2004, 06:02 PM
The key to nailing Step 1 is lots and lots of practice questions.
Definitely do the free on-line questions released by the NBME (you may see some repeats on your actual exam, so these are free marks). The link is here:
The NBME also sells on-line questions which were written for the Comprehensive Exam of the Basic Sciences (basically a lite-version of the USMLE Step 1). These are absolutely representative of the type of questions you will encounter on the USMLE Step 1. Well worth doing. The drawbacks are #1 you don't get the correct answers back, #2 you only get to write the exams once, and you can't re-access them once you submit each block of 50 questions. (you only get re-access to your mock test scores, although obviously you could print out the questions or screen-capture them as you answer them, but the NBME probably doesn't want you to do that), #3 there are two 200 question exams (each 200 question exam is divided into four 50 question blocks), and each exam costs $45 USD, so buying all 400 questions will set you back $90. Still, this is a paltry investment to increase your Step 1 score, and I think is well worth it. Not many people know about this, or at least I haven't heard people talk about this. You can purchase those questions here:
Another set of on-line questions is produced by Kaplan. It's called QBank (http://www.kaptest.com/repository/templates/LevMInitDroplet.jhtml?_levMParent=/www/KapTest/docs/repository/content/Medical_Licensing/Our_Programs/Step_1_Prep), and it should be considered a mandatory part of your prep. The QBank links are near the bottom of that index page. The QBank is fantastic. Kaplan also offers lectures and other resources which I haven't tried; I think the highest-yield Kaplan material is the QBank by far, so I'd do that well before even thinking of shelling out money for other Kaplan stuff.
The NMS Step 1 question book is also not bad (gives you another 900 questions with detailed answers), but it's a little picky and over-detailed at times. Still, it's pretty reasonable. MedRevu.com (http://www.medrevu.com) used to have a set of over 4000 online practice questions, but looking at their website just now, they've removed them. Too bad. They weren't nearly as good as QBank, but they weren't bad. The website now has this announcement:Medrevu products are no longer available for sale. Current subscribers will continue to be supported.
Overall best: First Aid for the USMLE Step 1. You need this. Period. You also need Kaplan QBank, and the NBME questions listed above.
Path: First Aid, BRS Path, Webpath (http://medlib.med.utah.edu/WebPath/webpath.html). All you need for path.
Physiol: First Aid, BRS Physiology. This is one of the weaker sections of First Aid, and for that reason, you should use BRS as well. BRS Physiology is a very well-written book. For Physiology, the Board Simulator Series questions are VERY similar to the actual USMLE (ie. lots of tables, graphs, problem-solving and not direct recall). The Board Simulator Series is otherwise probably inferior to QBank (the question format isn't very similar to the real thing), but the BSS Physiology questions are extremely good.
Embryology: First Aid. High Yield Embryo. All you need, if not overkill, for Embryo. First Aid alone would probably be sufficient unless you are either really weak in Embryo, or are going for a 260 or something.
Neuro: First Aid. High Yield Neuroanatomy. All you need for neuro.
Behavioural Sciences: First Aid. High Yield Behavioral Sciences. All you need. Behavioural sciences are relatively easy marks, so make sure to get them all by reading this book.
Micro: Use First Aid. Supplement with Micro Made Ridiculously Simple if your Micro knowledge is weak. First Aid alone would probably be sufficient if you weren't going after that 260.
Pharm: Use First Aid. Supplement with Pharm Made Ridiculously Simple if your Pharm knowledge is weak. As above, First Aid alone would probably be sufficient if you weren't going after that 260.
Most Micro and Pharm questions can probably be answered from First Aid or otherwise would have been encountered during your Med 1-2 curriculum.
Biochem: Use First Aid. Lippincott's is overkill.
Histo: Fan through Wheater's a couple times.
Anatomy: First Aid and High Yield Anatomy is more than enough. Most anatomy questions will probably take the form of radiological imaging.
If you see First Aid mentioned repeatedly, that's for a reason! You will bag a LOT of freebie questions if you know and understand this book well. Unfortunately, it's just a big collection of facts, which makes for some insanely dry reading, but most of it, if not all of it, has probably been tested in an actual USMLE exam before. Put another way, everyone else out there will be using it, and not using it yourself will put you at a disadvantage, as you miss those gimme questions.
When you do the practice questions, don't just do them for the sake of doing them. If you get a question wrong, figure out why and then learn that material. Otherwise you're just playing around, and not improving your knowledge base. The BRS Path and Physiology texts have end-of-chapter questions which are extremely good, and should be considered mandatory. The more questions you do, the better you will score. Doing tons of practice questions is an incredibly good way of studying for this exam, if you use those questions to identify your weak areas so that you can improve on them.
Another book that supposedly (I didn't use it, so I can't comment directly) is really good is Step-Up, which has much of the information of First Aid, but uses a lot more tables and graphs to display the information. If you're a visual learner, this might be a useful book as well.
Also, start EARLY! Start by paying attention and doing well during Med 1 and 2. This is NOT a crammable exam (your brain will explode). Most people allocate around a month (some masochists may go all the way to 6-8 weeks) to study. On the other hand, start too early, and you WILL burn out, because this is an incredibly frustrating test to study for simply due to the sheer volume of nit-picky minutiae.
Good luck. This exam sucks. It is in no way reflective of your eventual skills as a doctor, but it can make you or break you when applying to residency, so you want to do as well as you physically can.
Edited to fix some old, broken URL's. -Ian
01-11-2004, 02:06 PM
When is the best time to write the USMLE? I haven't done enough research into this yet, but I was wondering if it's usually written around the same time as the LMCC on graduation from med school. Like the first post, I need to start figuring this out as I graduate in about 16 months.
01-11-2004, 02:33 PM
Ian and moo would know way better than this, but I think the best time to write part I of the USMLE, which is based mostly on pre-clerkship material, is immediately after the preclerkship period or during the summer after second year. But people often do write the USMLE after that, it's just that the material isn't always as fresh in the mind.
01-11-2004, 07:58 PM
I wrote it after I graduated med school, which sucked. Most of that test is basic science minutiae, and not material that you will regularly encounter during your third year clerkships and fourth year electives.
The LMCC and Step 2 are similar enough that you could nearly write them back to back (except for US units, and US cutoffs for things like diabetes, cholesterol, etc). If you missed the ideal time to write Step 1 (that being after Med 2 and before the start of your third year clerkships), then I would write it at the end of fourth year. By then, you've already matched, med school is pretty much a cakewalk, and you have time to devote to studying. Obviously, you'd want to have it done before you started residency that July.
06-28-2006, 08:06 PM
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