My STEP 1 Study Essentials

It’s important to start off by saying that everyone has their own, very unique method of studying. Hopefully being in med school has helped in understand you own “learning personality” what what type of resources you like best. (If not, THIS may help!) Personally, I like watching videos and being lectured at over reading from text books. I also like doing a ton of questions to really make the info stick and highlight the more high yield topics.

The first piece of advice that I can give is to give it your all during classes. Technically, you start studying for Step 1 on day 1 of med school. The more you absorb the first time around, the easier studying for the boards becomes.

Secondly, I am a huge advocate of organization. While it may not be necessary to start studying early, I started in January (taking the test April 24) just getting familiar with my resources, organizing a study plan, and rearranging some of the information into a format I like. Because I started this early, I was able to reformat my learning during my course work into a model that I could use for Step 1.

So, here goes.

#1 First Aid, obviously.

This isScreen Shot 2015-02-19 at 5.23.32 PM the one source that everyone who takes the boards will become very intimate with. It is ONLY AN OUTLINE and definitely not all inclusive, but its a great source to format your studying around. I like to write information from UWorld and Pathoma into First Aid to consolidate. First Aid is very hard to read as a narrative and really frustrating to do so, so I wouldn’t necessarily start here. Its great for reviews.

# 2 UWorld Q Bank

I really think this is where Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 5.30.21 PMthe money is at, if used correctly. A few things you should know: these questions are HARD and not used for assessment purposes. It is a learning tool. So don’t get discouraged when you are scoring 50% all the time (so hard for a med student to deal with, I know). My beauty of this tool are the explanations. I like the tutor mode, which tells you the correct answers right away, but also have explanations for all of the incorrect answers. It is very thorough. I recommend getting this early in the school year and working on it along with you coursework (you can customize the subject matter of each test block). It also has a great progress tracking system and around 2300 question!

# 3 Pathoma

AScreen Shot 2015-02-19 at 5.33.44 PMnother great resource to get early. This only covers Pathology, but in video format with really really great explanations (like, can this guy teach all of my classes). The videos don’t take too long to get through and are organized by system. It also comes with a book, which I don’t really use. I integrate information into First Aid or my “illness scripts,” which I’ll talk more about later. Remember, too many sources can be detrimental! It’s better to know a few sources really well and really streamline your learning.

# 4 SketcyMicro

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 5.36.47 PMSketchyMicro saved me during my Micro ID course, and I definitely plan on using it for Step 1! We all know how frustrating it is to study 1,000,000,000 different bugs, the pathology they cause, and a million other things. This source uses illustrations and funny stories to really make the material stick. It’s truly the best. They just announced they will be covering viruses too! Each video is pretty short. Highly recommend. (Picmonic is a similar learning too and covers more than just bacteria and viruses for those of us who love learning from pictures!)

# 5 Lange Pharm Cards

UnfortunatScreen Shot 2015-02-19 at 5.38.43 PMely, drug names are on the exam. I’ve always struggled with Pharm- so much memorization! I knew studying for this portion of Step 1 was going to be harder for me, so I started early. In January, I told myself I would do 4 Pharm cards a day, which would get me through all 240 before my study block started. I don’t love flashcards, so I bought a fresh notebook to write all the info down. I had one column for MOA and general info, and one for side effects. That way, when its really time to hard core study, everything is in one place. When I come across a UWorld Pharm question, I make sure to highlight or add any info into my notebook.

# 6 Goljan lectures

These lectures were recorded from a Board review course years ago, and someone put them online (probably illegally) for us all to use. These are definitely not a primary study source, but great to listen to on the subway, while driving, or exercising. Another great way to consolidate info, and Goljan is a pretty funny guy.

# 7 BRS Physiology

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 5.56.05 PMThis may not be necessary, but its good to get more information about Physiology that isn’t adequately covered in First Aid. I found myself referring to this book during course work to make confusion concepts more clear.

# 8 Relaxation Devices

Probably the most important. I enjoy longs baths, getting a good night’s sleep, Netflix, and Ice cream. I think exercise is really important (but I am not one to talk as I am TERRIBLE at it), but I really want to incorporate it into my study schedule. That being said, your habits are your habits, and you shouldn’t try to become a completely new and improved person during your study block- Step 1 studying is a challenge in itself.

Finally, plan something that you will really love for the day/ night after your exam! I will be having a nice dinner with my parents in Chicago : )

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 5.59.06 PM

And remember- its a marathon, not a race! Good luck!!

3 Replies to “My STEP 1 Study Essentials”

  1. This was a great summary of materials for the Step! I’ve heard good things about all of them but really appreciate the summary!

    Thanks from a fellow Med Student 🙂

  2. Hi Ali,

    While searching for interesting medicine blogs I stumbled upon You´re a third year now and pretty much a lot of things are going on in your life right now – that´s at least what I am guessing. But still, I ´am wondering if you are interested in reviewing our online medical courses, our question bank and medical magazine? For more information write me an email: and we can further discuss on how to move forward. Hope to hearing from you soon. All the best, Till

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