I will try to help out as best I can. I got a solid 99 on step 1 and was not a 4.0 student (nowhere near!). I absolutely agree with the last 5 days being the most crucial, 'where the men are made and the boys are broken'.
I put in 4 weeks of SOLID studying. I moved out to the boondocks where I was the only non-white person in a 30 mile radius, dairy farmers still milked by hand, and barns scattered the landscape. This prevented me from socializing with my friends or making any new ones for that matter. While there, I worked out almost every day (bench pressed 365 lbs while there ). For fun, I went to Walmart and marvelled in how much I could buy for five bucks.
I used a modified Penn method to cater to my weakness (penn method posted below).
In summary, here is what I did:
1st 3 weeks: went through the Kaplan books thoroughly. Did UW questions corresponding to the subject matter. I thought MMRS was the best for micro, BRS was the best for Path, and Kaplan was the best for the rest.
Last week: holy crap, I don't know how to describe this. I went throught FA 2-2.5x during this last week. I think this got me the meat of my scores. I didn't have the time to reread Kaplan, but I did look at the high yield tables. I don't know how I managed to survive this last week...my body just shut down for a week after.
Here is "THE METHOD" for acing the boards:subject readings from these sources only). Spend the extra time to do tons of questions (the more questions the better).
Books needed: First-Aid for the Boards - USMLE part 1 Lippincott's Biochemistry Lippincott's Pharmacology
Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple Microbiology and Immunology (by Lange..orange and dark grey book) BRS
Pathology BRS Physiology High Yield Anatomy High Yield Embryology High Yield Neuroanatomy High Yield Behavioral
Sciences High Yield Histology
Question Sources: Kaplan's Q-bank (2500 questions + answers online), 1 month subscription Appleton and Lange's
USMLE Step 1 (1200 questions + answers, including 2 full-length exams)
Schedule (First 25 days*) - Background Reading* These days are meant to get you familiar with the material. Don't get
caught up on trying to memorize every detail. These days are not for memorization. They are just meant for you to see all
the material once and to distill out the most testable points in order to take notes upon for further study (see "last 5 days"
below). These days are approximately 8-9 hours of studying/day. Make sure you sleep, eat, and work-out during this
time. Also, try and relax for 2-3 hours per night (i.e. hang with girl-friend, watch movies, get out of the library).
2 days First-Aid for the Boards (only cursory reading - get a feel for what you are up against) 4 days Biochemistry + 50
biochem questions per night 1 day Histology + 50 histology questions 3 days Microbiology (Micro made ridic simple only)
+ 50 microbio questions/night 1 day Immunology (Lange's book) + 50 immuno questions 1 day Embryology + 50
embryology questions 3 days Physiology + 50 physiology questions/night 1 day Anatomy + 50 anatomy questions 4 days
Pharmacology + 50 pharmacology questions 1 day Neuroanatomy + 50 neuroanatomy questions 3 days Pathology + 50
pathology questions/night 1 day Behavioral Sciences + 50 behavioral sciences questions
So for each of first 25 days of reading, you review (in 1 hour each morning) the corresponding section from First-Aid.
While you are doing your readings for the day, you take all your notes in the margins of First-Aid on the section that
relates to that day's readings. At night, you do 50 to 100 practice questions on the topic (i.e. Biochemistry) that you read
about that day and read ALL the explanations for each question at the back of the Book or on the Kaplan Website.
Schedule (Last 5 days*) - where the men are made and the boys are broken *WARNING: last 5 days are the absolute
meat of getting the score. Everything you've done before this is just a warm-up. These days are approximately 12-14
hours of studying/day. Besides eating, sleeping and working-out, you are doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE BUT
· Day 1 - review Biochemistry, Physiology sections of First-Aid(i.e. deeply study these sections and all the notes you
wrote in the margins). This should takeapproximately 5-6 hours. In the afternoon, do 150-200 questions/answers related
to Biochem, and Physiology.· Day 2 - review all small topics (i.e. Histology, Anatomy, Embryology, Neuroanatomy,
Behavioral Sciences) and Pathology sections of First-Aid plus your notes. Do 150-200 questions related to these topics.·
Day 3 - review Pharmacology and Micro + Immuno sections of First-Aid plus your notes. Do 150-200 questions related to
these topics.· Day 4 - review First-Aid sections/notes: Biochem, Physio, Path. Do 1 practice test from Appleton and
Lange. Do more questions related to these topics.· Day 5 (Last Day!!!) - Review First Aid sections/notes: Micro +
Immuno, Pharm, and small subjects. Do second test from Appleton and Lange. Do more questions related to these
Take test. Go on Vacation.
P.S. The bare minimum in terms of books: First-Aid Lippincott's Pharm BRS Pathology
Basically do all your studying on the various subjects from these books (same sort of daily schedule but do all the