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A minimalist guide to excellent scores on USMLE

September 24, 2009

Guys, there are plenty of books and questions’ banks out there. Which book is the best, which Q-bank is better, this is the ultimate question. It has been asked and it will be asked over and over again so many times on the medical forums.

I have a solution to all of you who have problems with how to choose the right material for preparation. My advice is, make it simple. Don’t get lost in too many books or too complicated books. This is just a test, it is not your lifetime medical knowledge. You need to memorize the right information, retain it for certain amount of time, and recall it on the exam. This is it. Our brains have capacity, and when you try to put more information than the brain can handle, you will end up in a vicious cycle of adding new information and forgetting the old one. How about if you keep repeating over and over again what you already know and just add some bits of new information here and there.

To make it more clear, I can show my studying materials for the steps:

Step 1: Kaplan notes and videos (it is the first step, you cannot get away with less materials for studying, this is the base of your medical knowledge), FA, and UW + USMLERx Q-bank supplementing FA. Of course, don’t forget Goljan audios and notes. It is a must for Step 1.

Step 2: Kaplan notes only, FA, USMLE Step 2 Secrets, and UW + USMLERx Q-bank (I used it mostly to improve my speed reading). Here you can play around, and use or not use FA. I used the 2006 edition which is not very good, but my reason to use it was that I was already familiar with the FA style. Anyways, if I had to choose again, I would do one more reading of the usmleworld.

Step 3: Master the boards, and UW. I will do some quick readings of my step 2 notes on topics I feel weak.

This is it. I made my choice and I will stick to the plan. For quick search of any medical information I use Google, fast and straight to the point. One day, we will have more time to read the big books such as Harrison. I spoke to one very famous professor and researcher. I told him that I don’t have enough time to read Harrison, and he said to me, “Do you know how much time it took me to read Harrison…..4 years, and you know why…..because I read it very slow”.

The moral of the story is to use the right study materials, at the right time, and for the right purpose.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    September 29, 2009 8:08 pm

    Thanks for the tips. Which book did you find the most useful for Step 1?

  2. October 10, 2009 11:10 am

    You are welcome. For step 1 the combination I used is:
    1. Kaplan notes and videos.
    2. FA.
    3. Goljan notes and audio.
    4. UW.

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