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Thread: How I studied

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    DOC.p's Avatar
    DOC.p is offline Super Moderator 7191 points
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    How I studied

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    Preface:
    So a lot of students were asking me what I did to prep so instead of answering those individually, I thought I'd write this out before I forget anything. Sorry if this post is really long and boring. I didn't really have that much of a detailed plan on how I wanted to prep for the step as I saw most have (ie read book XYZ, then book ZXY and listen to Goljan twice through). I really tried to keep things as simple as possible so I didn't look at too many sources. I think that's one mistake a lot of students make is they use too many sources and never dig deep enough into the material.

    I also want to try to compare what was taught at AUA (from what I remember) to what I really saw on the step. Keep in mind, it's been almost a year since I've been on the island and a lot has changed. So what I may write now, things may have gotten better (hopefully).

    So what got the ball rolling? - Kaplan. First of all, I want to say for those entering 5th semester - UTILIZE YOUR FREE TIME! I can't stress this enough, if you don't put that much time in to review during 5th, you're going to be that much behind when 5th is finally over. You don't have to go hard core, I studied on average about 4 hours a day during 5th, which I could have done more, but I did it every day and it was sufficient enough to do the other work required for 5th and relax a little. I didn't have a specific plan as to what I was studying during 5th - I watched some kaplan videos, listened to Goljan once, went through Rapid Review, did some UW questions, read FA etc etc. Take the time during 5th to find out which study source is going to be most beneficial to you, try a few out, trial and error. Also I recommend that you take the comp even if you already passed it or aren't required to take it again. I already passed the comp in Antigua without doing any review and I took it again during 5th and improved my score by 8 points. That's a direct correlation that if you do some adequate review, you will improve your comp score.

    So back to Kaplan, I played around with the idea of doing a review course or just doing things on my own. I decided that I needed a little push to get things going so Kaplan was my choice. I already came into Kaplan with a good base from my studying during 5th. I can't stress this enough if you're going to go into a review program, you need to have a good base and have at least some of the material fresh. Kaplan was a pretty good program, the professors were good with the exception of genetics and you get a lot of resources available to you.

    How I studied
    :
    I went on many forums, prep4usmle, student doctor net, this one, to try and get an idea how people studied. Most plans were nuts with numerous books, videos, audio recordings, all these different sources that just seemed way too much. So I decided that the best way to study was to study from one source and really dig deep with it instead of just nicking the surface of multiple sources. Throughout kaplan, I wrote almost nothing in my lecture books and everything into what I call my Step 1 Bible. I actually first heard of this idea through Agraphia (props to him) and decided to add my own twist to it. I bought the latest First Aid 2009 and Kaplan Med Essentials and combined them into one huge binder with dividers by subject and system as each book is laid out. I also had a picture section for high yield pictures and a high yield facts section where I threw in Goljan's high yield just for fun. Throughout kaplan, I would add notes to this if I couldn't already find it in First Aid or Med Essentials and never looked at those lecture books again.
    Throughout the course and after when I was mainly doing questions with Kaplan Qbank and USMLE World, any question that I would miss, I would make sure I wrote it into my bible. Also if I came across a concept or a drug or whatever that wasn't already in my bible, I would add it to it. That way when everything was said and done, I had only one source that I was reviewing from. I think this is really the key to passing the exam. If you can organize all the notes you have into one big binder and not have to look at anything else, you master your material, you master the step 1. I would suggest anyone in 4th, 5th or beginning their prep now to really consider getting your first aid unbounded and hole punched (Kinkos can do it for about 10 bucks) and get the ball rolling.
    There you have it guys, that is my ultimate step pre plan. Sometimes simplicity is the best way to go.

    The Final Month:

    So after Kaplan was over, I decided that I was only going to take a month more to study and then take the exam, making my overall prep time about 2.5 months. The last month, I had already completed UW questions and Kaplan Qbank questions by this time and I decided to take the first two weeks of going back through all the subjects again. You should always start with your weakest subjects when you're doing your final review. One thing to keep in mind while you're reviewing is to study what you don't know, not what you know. Path has always been my strongest subject so I really didn't need to review it anymore than other subjects so I used that extra time to study physio. Also in my last month of study, I was doing 7 blocks of 48 timed questions everyday to get my timing down. This is imperative for your study but the step is a marathon. I never had trouble in the past finishing tests with much time to spare but this is test is a whole 'nother mother. I'm very glad that I did this because during the exam, I didn't burn out at all and was able to finish each block with time to spare and never hit that wall of fatigue.
    So as I said, the first two weeks I was just banging out subject review using only my bible and UW questions. The last two weeks were my assessment weeks. I'll get to my scores down below but I had many assessment exams planned almost every other day. The exams I took were the first four NBMEs, the Kaplan full-length exam, both USMLE World assessments, and the USMLE CD that you can download from their website that has 3 blocks of questions. The way I worked it was I would take one of these exams one day, then finish off the day with 3 more blocks of either Kaplan QWbank or UW (to complete the 7 blocks for the day) and then review everything I missed. Then I would take a day to just review my bible or a specific topic that I felt I needed to work on. I continued this routine all the way up until the final three days which I took the last two to go through my bible again and the final day to relax. The final day before my test, I made a deal with myself that if there was one topic that I needed to look at really quick just because, I would. I picked Neuro; I had heard there were a lot of neuro pictures on the exam and I was a little rusty on them so I went back through Neuro High Yield. This turned out to work in my advantage because I did see quite a few neuro pics that I may not have gotten right if I didn't look at it.

    In-Exam Advice:

    So you're going to be pretty nervous, it's natural. You may have some anxiety too which is also pretty natural. About a week before my test, I stopped getting as nervous and was pretty confident that I was ready. Don't go into the exam until you feel this, otherwise you may have a breakdown and your score may be drastically affected. I brought a large cooler to the exam which contained two sandwiches, some Ibuprofen, two red bulls, two Starbucks double-shots, a couple protein bars and two bottles of water. I know this sounds a little over-haul but I didn't know completely what to expect so I packed for the worst. Before the exam I took two Ibuprofens as a prophylactic measure. Throughout the exam, I drank the one bottle of water during breaks, ate half of a sandwich, one of the protein bars and chugged one of the double shots. That's all I really needed, I never felt hungry or fatigued throughout the exam.
    There's 7 blocks of 48 questions with one block at the beginning of tutorial. You can skip this block to add 15 minutes on to your break time which I highly suggest. I can't remember completely but I believe you have an hour break time on top of the extra 15 minutes and you have 60 min to finish a block. When you finish a block, the computer asks you if you would like to take a break or continue on and it lists your break time remaining in a little window. What I found that worked best for me was to take a break every single block. Some students end up doing a few blocks in a row and then taking a large break but I felt like I needed to just keep going to that's what I did. Every block, I would take a break, I would go drink some water, go to the bathroom, maybe eat a little something and then got back into it. My average break time was 5-10 minutes and never longer than that.
    During the exam, I felt like the average question was pretty equivalent to the difficulty of the NBMEs. A lot of questions were very straight forward and I was surprised they were even asking a question like that. If you've been doing well in UW, you'll be pretty happy during the exam and feel like it isn't too bad. There's going to be some tough questions that are equivalent to the tough questions of UW and then there's going to be some questions that you'll have no idea how to answer. There is always a block, sometimes two, that are much more difficult than the rest. You always hear about this block and hope it's the "experimental block". My first 5 blocks weren't too bad, I was cruising right along and was feeling pretty good but then I hit block 6. Block 6 really raped me, every other question I was marking and had no idea how to answer it. I just went through and gave it my best shot and moved on. Block 7 was tough too but not as tough. I also got one multi-media question during this block, it was actually the last question on the test and it was heart sounds.
    After the exam, you're going to feel like you failed - I did. This is a natural feeling after taking this exam. If you walked out of the exam feeling like you aced it, you most likely failed it (not always the case but keep it in mind). I got my results 3 weeks after I took my step. I've been told that they're changing FRED around (the software that runs the USMLE) and those taking it in May and after will have to wait 6 or more weeks. When you're finally done with the exam, just relax and catch up on everything you missed doing in the past few months.

    Exam Scores:

    I'll just share with you some of my assessment scores so you can compare yourself or whatever. The prep4usmle forum has a thread devoted just for this and I spent hours on there comparing what I got with what I may get. Here's the break down:
    USMLE World Average: 70% (second time through, went through once during basic science)
    Kaplan Qbank Average: 73%
    Comp 1 (in Antigua): 64
    Comp 2 (in Miami): 72
    NBME 1: 470 (211)
    NBME 2: 530 (226)
    NBME 3: 520 (224)
    NBME 4: 530 (226)
    UW Assessment 1: 224
    UW Assessment 2: 230
    Kaplan Full-length: 67%
    USMLE CD: 80%

    My actual score as I noted in another thread is 90+ two-digit score and very close to what I was getting on the NBMEs. As you can see, I was pretty consistent on the NBMEs and really hit a wall with my preparation. I really didn't think if I took any extra time off that I could have really improved my score with where I was at and if I did take more time off, I'd probably start forgetting things. This is probably the best time to take your exam when you're in this zone. I think if I would have focused a little more on physio (since it was my weakest subject) my results would have been higher but I was just tired of reviewing and felt confident enough that I would pass with my knowledge base.

    AUA in Review:

    My purpose here is to really go through each of the subject areas, tell you how much it of it was on the exam and how it correlated with what I was taught at AUA. Keep in mind, things may have changed a lot since I've been on the island so this may be a little out-dated but it can give you somewhat of an idea.

    • Anatomy/Embryo: The anatomy on the exam was pretty straight forward and high yield. I did have a lot of pictures including CTs and MRIs but they weren't difficult. If you know the high yield, you should be more than prepared. The Embryo on the exam was also pretty straight forward and only a few tough questions that can't be found in FA.


    • How does AUA Compare? We were taught more than enough needed to know for Anatomy on the step 1. Even though most say that there is more embryo than anatomy on the step, I saw more anatomy then embryo. Like I said before, the majority of the questions are pretty high yield and if you reviewed only first aid, I'd say you're pretty set for it. Anatomy/Embryo was the lowest yield of the exam so I wouldn't stress it too much. I did get one tough question about the lymphatic drainage of the foot that I'm sure nobody outside of podiatrists and Dr. H knows the answer to. Anatomy is the toughest class in first semester so you just have to suffer through it but know it won't be a deal breaker when it comes to your step.
    • Histology: Back when I took histo, Dr. S taught it who was a great professor, one of the best at AUA. I've heard that he's moved on to UMHS, that is a shame if so because everything out of his mouth was high yield. As far as histo goes, I didn't see much of it on the exam but I did have some histo slides that I had no idea what I was looking at. Oh well, click it and move on.


    • How does AUA compare? What I was taught was pretty high yield and compared pretty well to what's on the step. As I said, I did have some tough histo slides but I never really reviewed it during my step prep and I hoped those questions were experimental. Histo is pretty important when it comes to play later on with Path. You have to know what's normal before you can learn how it can become diseased so take this into mind when you're taking Histo.
    • Biochemistry/Genetics: I missed a lot of questions, that I know of in this area just because I didn't read the question fully and rushed to the answer. Biochem and genetics are very straight forward on the exam. Everything you really need to know as far as enzyme deficiencies, nutrition etc is in the first aid. For genetics, I had a couple pedigrees asking how much of the offspring would be affected and even a pedigree asking me what it was (AD, AR, X-linked etc).


    • How does AUA compare? Dr. L teaches and tests much more than you need to know. Biochem is the killer class of 2nd semester so if you end up with a B or C in the class, don't be discourage. If you know everything in the FA for biochem an genetics, you will be pretty set. Of course that's not gunner level but still. When I was taking biochem, Dr. M had a habit to ask a lot of biochem theory questions. If you get some of these on your exams, don't be discouraged because they'll never ask you anything about it. That's for PhD biochem students and not MD students. If you did well in biochem and genetics at AUA, you'll have no problem with the questions asked on the step.
    • Physiology: This is a big subject. Although you don't see many straight physio questions on the step, the majority of the questions are pathophysiology. You NEED to know your physio and it will be very forgiving if you do for the step. This was by far my weakest area and I think my score suffered a little bit because of it. I did spend a lot of time trying to improve it, and I did from where I started but it could have been more. Physio is a dry subject and was tough for me to study so I made the executive decision not to pursue it anymore in my prep. You'll see a lot of questions with up and down arrows so nothing should be skipped. I am happy to say that the renal phys on the exam was straight forward so if you bombed it or are currently bombing it, just keep digging and know that it won't be that bad when you get there.


    • How does AUA compare? I honestly think AUA was really lacking when I took the course. Dr. S was very good for cardio and resp when he taught but we had other professors teach the rest of the sections and they were very poorly taught. I think if Dr. S was to teach more physio or if they hire a new permanent physio prof to compliment what Dr. S doesn't teach (maybe they've already done this, I don't know) then I think students will benefit more. I really blame the lack of my physio knowledge base with the lack of what was taught in this class. The only two subjects I can say I was strong in was Cardio and Resp. The portion that Dr. N taught, although a nice lady, basically handed out the exam. At the time I thought this was great but in the end, I didn't learn much.
    • Neuro: Definitely a high yield for the exam, mostly comprising of the anatomy portion. There were pictures (some CTs and different pictures of the cranium and brain stem) so you really have to know it all. The actually neuro questions on the test were straight forward, as long as you know your neuro.


    • How does AUA compare? Very well, neuro is one of the best taught classes at AUA. Dr. G knows his stuff and has a good inside as to what's going to be on the exam. The only real drawback is that he goes over pictures during class but doesn't ask them on his minis. I don't know if he started to do this but I wish he did because there are a lot of pictures on the shelf and step. I never completely learned them the first time because they weren't tested but I did review during my step prep and glad I did. This can be the easiest class in your second semester as long as you understand neuro. Take the time in the beginning to really listen to Dr. G and understand the tracts. If you understand the tracts, you'll understand what you see with lesions so there are no questions you should miss. When you're going through your shelf and step prep, pictures, pictures pictures...I can't stress this enough. They can take a simple UMN or LMN lesion and throw it on a picture with letters A-M. You have to know the side and you have know where so please keep this in mind.
    • Behavioral: There's a good chunk of questions on the exam mostly in the biostats/epidemiology area than the actual behavioral science aspect. I had at least 5 (maybe more or less) biostats/epidemiology questions each block so don't ignore this in your prep. The actually behavioral science questions were very straight forward.


    • How does AUA compare? This is one class at AUA that really is off the mark to what you really need to know. First off, they don't teach biostats or epidemiology at all to the level that is adequate for the step. I was kind of mad that I had to learn this stuff during my prep. You really shouldn't be learning much during your exam prep, let alone an entire subject. Dr. K did touch on some of it during our semester but there just wasn't enough time to get through it. Dr. G should have incorporated this much more into the curriculum where we wasted a lot of time doing things that will never show up on the step. Again, I don't know if things have changed since then but that is what I experienced. If Dr. G tells you that you have to know every single DSM qualification for a specific behavioral disorder, you don't. She would write questions and have NOS (not otherwise specified) as an answer choice if not all the DSM qualifications were present. The only thing you really have to pay attention to is timing because some diseases, depending on how long they are experiencing sx, the diagnosis changes (Acute Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress). We also had to memorize all of the definitions out of the Kaplan and Saddock book (the Robbins of Pyschiatry) which is not beneficial at all for the step. I think a lot of professors have good intentions and want to teach you beyond what may be on the test but you know as a student, if you're never going to see the information again outside of the classroom, you're going to forget. There's that old saying of "use it or lose it" - all that extra stuff that Dr. G required us to know for that class, I completely forgot after taking the class and it never showed up again.
    • Micro/Immuno: This probably ranks third in high yield on the step. Everything you need to know is in first aid for micro. Immuno can be a little in depth and confusing but they really don't get that in depth with Immuno on the step. You'll see some picture questions as well so don't neglect to study pictures of all your bugs. I was surprised when i had the same exact picture of CMV with different vignettes in two different blocks. Both questions were asking what bug it was, I'll take that!


    • How does AUA compare? When I took it, it was a disaster. I've heard things have changed drastically since then. They fired one prof, Dr. B (who was unqualified to teach at the medical school level) and hired a new prof from India. Dr. D is a very knowledgeable guy but the course was very unorganized which is why a lot of students failed. We also focused too much on parasites when I saw a whopping 3 questions on the entire exam. This class is straight memorization and is pretty straight forward on the real exam.
    • Pathology: Along with physio, this is the highest yield of the exam. The questions ranged from straight-forward to things I've never seen before. Path was my best subject and really helped me pull through this exam. It's a pretty extensive subject so lots of questions is the key to mastering this subject.


    • How does AUA compare? The path department is probably the best department at AUA. You really have some great professors so really take advantage of this when you're taking the class. When I was there, Dr. K (not to be confused with the other Dr. K) was still there and taught very high yield material. He since then left AUA but I've heard his replacement is good. The other Dr. K who is still there now goes more in depth with the material which will help you when you get those really tough path questions.
    • Pharm: This subject is the second highest yield on the exam. There honestly wasn't anything that I saw that can't be found in first aid. Pharm requires a lot of memorization but most questions you'll see are side effect and mechanism of action questions. Every once in awhile, they'll ask you about the drug of choice but know that this isn't the highest yield of pharm. UW has really tough pharm questions and you really don't need to know all of that. The kaplan Qbank lists a bunch of drugs that can't be found in FA but I really didn't see questions on them.


    • How does AUA compare? Extremely well. Dr. M teaches you everything you need to know and has a great book to accompany his class - Buzzwords. I still remember some of his crazy sayings and just the way he would teach things, it clicked. AUA is lucky to have a great pharm prof like Dr. M.
    So in closing, hopefully that wasn't too long of a read and hopefully it answers most of your questions. If you have any other questions that I didn't cover in here, please feel free to ask. It's a tough road and I still remember my very first semester freaking out because I didn't think I could handle the work load. My advice to you is to just keep digging, avoid the drama and get the hell out of Antigua. Don't party all the time and definitely don't sacrifice your study time for a significant other. You'll have plenty of time to catch up with whatever it is after you get through your studying. You're in Antigua for one reason so get in and get the hell out of there. Good luck to everyone!
    Last edited by DOC.p; 04-10-2009 at 04:04 PM.
    M.D.

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    NWS's Avatar
    NWS
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    Very thorough and insightful post Matt, thanks! The bible is an excellent idea and is something I plan to incorporate into my step 1 prep. I remember Matt doing USMLE World all the time during med 1-4 and I regret not doing it enough. The breakdown of what's on the Step vs. whats taught at AUA is what has been missing in most reviews.
    Step 1 [X] Step 2 CK [X] Step 2 CS [X] Step 3[IP]
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    md12886 is offline Member 510 points
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    great post , DocP.

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    Agraphia is offline Permanently Banned 512 points
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    NICE DOC!!!! Damn, I've been waiting for this post dude! I have a few questions if you don't mind
    1. Did the exam test more concept based or detailed?
    2. Would you recommend doing WORLD twice or WORLD and Kap qbank?
    3. How in the hell did you manage to take notes for kaplan readings and then world????? Your bible must have been 6-8 feet thick! If you had to do it over, would you have done the same or just read through everything once then maybe take notes on world and not both? Do you think it was worth the trade off in time to write down notes from world?
    4. Ive read CMMRS, BRS biochem, kaplan pharm, BRS physio, goljan audio, 90 pgs of immuno in levison's, and working on HY biostats right now. I still have neuro, embryo , behavior left. If you ask me about micro... I forgot since that was 8 weeks ago. I keep telling myself to just suck it up and push through and worry about getting through everything first then Ill worry about going back and diving into the details again... Am I headed in the right direction or should I take some days to review the past subjects? Did you feel the same?
    5. When did you feel like everything stated to come together? when you did world?
    6. Is Goljan audio enough for path?
    7. You said that physio was a weak subject. Ive done world qestions for physio and I think they're really tough, but they help drill home the concepts... didn't you feel that the combo of kaplan and world for physio was enough?
    8. sorry dude, lots of questions. do you think that your score would have improved if you did world once more until you were scoring 90% or do you think that there really is a wall that you hit without any improvement no matter how much more you study?
    9. If you could do it over, what would you have done different?
    10. haha, last one man.... do you REALLY REALLY REALLY think that kaplan retreat was essential, or do you think that in the end, you could have read everything, did the world, taken notes and maybe ended with the same score? I suck at lectures, and I've alwasy done best by ditching class and just reading the books.
    Doc man, congrats on passing and getting a top score dude. I never had any doubt because of the kind of student you were. Thanks for taking the time to write all this out and answer my questions. Good luck and...
    VIVA MEXICO!
    Last edited by Agraphia; 04-10-2009 at 10:28 PM.

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    Congratulations Doc. Will definitely take in all this advice. Best of luck to you!
    "they never said it would be easy, they just said it would be worth it"
    Step 1 (X) CK (X) CS (X) Family (X) Psych (X) IM (X) OB/GYN (X) Surgery (X) Peds (X) Psych Elective (X) Surgery Elective (X) Nephrology (X) Pulm/Critical Care (X) Cardiology (0)
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    HinduDoc is offline Member 519 points
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    Did you watch kaplan videos at all? If so, how do they compare to the Kaplan live review? do they cover the same material and present it the same way or are there major differences?

    Congrats on the score!

    thanks in advance

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    thanks doc and congrats.

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    rahulb is offline Senior Member 695 points
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    good post matt.

    fyi to those studying i'm doing something similar. i'm reading first aid 2009 and supplementing the organ system chapters with rapid review path. after i finish a section i do all the relevant questions in usmleworld. if i can keep at this 8 hours a day for the next 6 weeks i think i'll be ready.

    i'll let you know if this works around the end of june. my advice is start early because its tough to put in the 8 hours if you don't already know the material. at this point you should just be memorizing.
    [X] Attending Physician

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    Good stuff DocP. I think you'd make an excellent prof some day...if you're so inclined.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Agraphia View Post
    NICE DOC!!!! Damn, I've been waiting for this post dude! I have a few questions if you don't mind
    1. Did the exam test more concept based or detailed?
    a little bit of both. the majority was probably conceptual but there were some very detailed questions.
    2. Would you recommend doing WORLD twice or WORLD and Kap qbank?
    if you're really looking to do more questions, kaplan qbank is the next best alternative. the good thing about kaplan qbank is the profs update the qbank frequently when students send them exam questions/topics that they saw on their exam. the bad part to the qbank is they have some really nitty gritty detail questions. they kind of lose focus as to what's really important in a concept with this
    3. How in the hell did you manage to take notes for kaplan readings and then world????? Your bible must have been 6-8 feet thick! If you had to do it over, would you have done the same or just read through everything once then maybe take notes on world and not both? Do you think it was worth the trade off in time to write down notes from world?
    when i originally bought the binder, i bought the largest and most durable binder that office max carried. i can't remember the thickness but it's pretty thick. i think what i did was sufficient for me. reading and trying to memorize material is only passive learning. when you are doing questions, that's when active learning applies and is a really an essential part of learning and mastering material. the majority of the notes i wrote down from world were concepts or questions that i missed. by writing them down, i learned it from writing it and i knew that when i came back to it again, i knew to pay extra attention to it so i would never miss it again (or at least hope not).
    4. Ive read CMMRS, BRS biochem, kaplan pharm, BRS physio, goljan audio, 90 pgs of immuno in levison's, and working on HY biostats right now. I still have neuro, embryo , behavior left. If you ask me about micro... I forgot since that was 8 weeks ago. I keep telling myself to just suck it up and push through and worry about getting through everything first then Ill worry about going back and diving into the details again... Am I headed in the right direction or should I take some days to review the past subjects? Did you feel the same?
    i think when you start going over things so many times, you'd be surprised what you can recall. one example with this is the toxins in micro (which is very important, at least 5-10 questions on them). if you asked me right now to name all the toxins for each of the bugs, i'd probably struggle to get through them, but if you asked me in question form, i'd be able to pick out the answer right away without a problem. with that said, if you're doing questions in a subject that you did 8 weeks ago and are missing a lot, you probably should go back. it'll take some time but i think you'll get to a point where you'll get tired of looking at the same material and everything will start clicking , some subjects better than others. always study what you're not good at first and then move to your stronger subjects later. i think you're definitely heading in the right direction though.
    5. When did you feel like everything stated to come together? when you did world?
    about two weeks before my exam before i started taking the assessment exams, i really started feeling confident with things and the nervous factor started to disapear. yes, after going through world twice and seeing where questions were coming from and how things are worded, i started to feel pretty good. that's why they say, questions, questions, questions...there's only so many ways they can word things. i had many questions on the exam that were very similar to what i've seen in world or other places and i answered them in the same way i did those questions that were in world etc (of course i don't know if they were right but it was good logic).
    6. Is Goljan audio enough for path?
    i'd say so, i only did goljan once during 5th though. frankly the guy that teaches path for kaplan, Dr. B is amazing and a much better teacher than Goljan compared to his audio lectures. i basically only used the notes i got from kaplan for path and that held up well. many swear by Goljan so I'd say you're pretty safe with him.
    7. You said that physio was a weak subject. Ive done world qestions for physio and I think they're really tough, but they help drill home the concepts... didn't you feel that the combo of kaplan and world for physio was enough?
    yeah, it should be. if you're really weak in physio, kaplan has a seperate qbank just for physio. i guess i could have done more of those questions but i didn't. if you are able to understand the concepts from world pretty well, then i'd say you'll get the majority of the physio correct. actually looking at my score report right now, my physio wasn't as bad as i thought, oh well.
    8. sorry dude, lots of questions. do you think that your score would have improved if you did world once more until you were scoring 90% or do you think that there really is a wall that you hit without any improvement no matter how much more you study?
    i think everyone hits a wall in their studying. maybe it was the way i prepped or whatever but i'm not exactly sure what else i could have done to raise my score more without wasting time and starting to forget things. i always worked pretty hard but i was never gunner level in every single class (or I would have gotten a 4.0) so I knew going into my prep that I most likely wasn't getting a 99. I'm also not trying to be a surgeon so I'm definitely not upset with my score. I wanted to break 220 so I would at least be competitive for EM or IM and I reached my goal. maybe going through world and kaplan one more time could have put me a little higher but I really wanted to get the exam over so I took the gamble.
    9. If you could do it over, what would you have done different?
    again i'm not too sure. i think maybe working with a study partner to try to drill in the concepts a little better could be beneficial. i've heard many students do this and say it has worked pretty well to have that support. i've always liked studying by myself so I didn't really consider this as an option.
    10. haha, last one man.... do you REALLY REALLY REALLY think that kaplan retreat was essential, or do you think that in the end, you could have read everything, did the world, taken notes and maybe ended with the same score? I suck at lectures, and I've alwasy done best by ditching class and just reading the books.
    Do I think it was essential? No, do I think it was beneficial, yes. It was an expensive course but it really forced me to study. I'm like you, if you tallied my attendance throughout AUA, I probably didn't show up for half of the lectures. I know I never saw you until exam day haha but these lectures were really good. With the exception of the genetics, I walked out of the class room every day more and more confident. It was the structure, the confidence and the information I picked up that really got the ball rolling for me. There are some things that I learned that I really don't think I could have gathered by doing it all on my own. I think almost every subject, the profs did a great job showing us where the material lies in the big picture. Sometimes this is really hard to see when you're going through basic science because you don't completely have the whole story layed out for you at one time. I'll make this analogy which you may or may not get if you're a Lost fan. When I watch an episode of Lost once, I'll get the general picture of the plot and what happened during that episode. If I ever watch the same episode again, since I already know what happened, I pick up these little details that I didn't even realize were there before. That's what Kaplan did for me. Maybe I could have picked these up on my own but I think it would have required much more prep time and I may still be reviewing for the step right now to try to make these conclusions. Kaplan isn't for everyone but in my case, I found it to be beneficial.
    Doc man, congrats on passing and getting a top score dude. I never had any doubt because of the kind of student you were. Thanks for taking the time to write all this out and answer my questions. Good luck and...
    VIVA MEXICO!
    thanks man, you'll be there soon enough.
    M.D.

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