The Method to My Madness: Or How I learned to Stop Hating and Love USMLE.

Okay so you now know my story (awful college student who climbed to the top of his medical school by using odd but effective tactics), you know why CK and Step 1 are equally important for getting a residency , you understand the importance of making a schedule and sticking to it ( because time is your most important resource), you know how to use Uworld correctly ( Tutor, by section, taking one minute to do the questions then 2.5 minutes for review after every 10 – 15 questions completed), you know how spaced repetition can make even the biggest scholastic disasters into a model medical students ( because you retain information so well) , and you even know how to train your brain into becoming a good test taker ( through doing Uworld 1 minute per question, asking what you could’ve known to get an answer correct when you review, then going in super confident on NBME’s to ensure that test sense is being fine-tuned correctly) but you want it all in one piece. Well, after the most epic run-on sentence in blog history (hopefully it served it’s purpose) I’m about to give it all to you and I’ll even put it in bullet form.

Step by Step

  • Before you do anything take an NBME to see where you are, don’t get freaked by the result this will simply be used a marker to see how well you are improving and how good your fundamentals are.
    • If you are already at a pretty high score in all sections you may only need to read Pathoma/ OnlineMedEd notes and skip the videos as your fundamentals are already pretty solid.
  • The Resources:
    • For Step 1:
      • Pre-read FA Step1 at 2 minutes / page then pathoma at 3 minutes/ page for a specific section then watch the videos along with the notes
      • Re-read FA Step 1 at 4 minutes per page then pathoma at 6 minutes per page for that same section
      • Do Uworld for that section in as specific a section as possible (IE: Pathology Cardiology) and highlight
      • At the end of the week re-read re-read your Uworld highlights
    • For Step 2 CK
      • Pre Read Onlinemeded (Surg and Internal Medicine Only) at 3 minutes per page and MTB step 3 and FA for the Wards at 2 mins/ page and then watch the videos along with the notes
      • Re-read: Onlinemeded (Surg and Internal Medicine Only) at 7 minutes per page and FA step 3 and FA for the Wards at 4 mins/ page and then watch the videos along with the notes
      • Do Uworld for that section in as specific a section as possible (IE: IM Cardiology) and highlight
      • At the end of the week re-read your Uworld highlights
    • Then make a schedule calculate how many free days you have before your test based on your individual schedule (rotations, weddings, GoT finale etc) and divide it by the total number of hours it would take you to finish above
    • You now have a mathematical figure of how much you can get done in that time and you need to stick to it.
    • When going through each resource stick to the time. Don’t worry about knowing everything simply get through it at a comfortable pace.
    • When doing a Uworld section on tutor at a pace of one minute to answer each question then reviewing after every 10 – 15 minutes.
      • When you get an answer incorrect ask yourself why you got it incorrect and what you could have known ( in the question or in the answer) that could have made it correct and make sure to highlight it.
      • If it is taking you too long to review questions review the learning objective first, then bolded worlds / images then wrong answers.
      • Make sure to actively highlight (meaning highlighting important parts of sentences NOT entire paragraphs) to keep focused and shorten review time significantly. This will take a while at first but eventually you’ll be able to simultaneously read and highlight.
    • After complete with a section review Uworld questions 5 – 9 days later to maximize retention of that material
    • After complete with everything (should be about 2 – 3 weeks before test) re-review everything as above quickly
    • Take 3 – 5 full length nine hour NBMEs in the same fashion as the real exam to both build mental fortitude and ensure you are properly building a sixth sense for questions
      • Go into the practice exam just like you should the real thing ( assuming everything you feel is 100% correct and there is no need to check. Otherwise you will run out of time on test day.
    • In total
      • Step 1: Pathoma ( pre-read notes + videos + notes), FA Step 1 (pre-read + re-read) , Uworld ( Q + As first pass) + Pathoma ( (3rd pass), FA for Step 1 (3rd pass), and Uworld Answers ( review 1 – 2x) + Three – five full length nine hour NBMEs
        • This should take approximately 500 – 650 hours

 

  • Step 2: OnlineMedEd ( pre-read notes + videos + notes), MTB3 (pre-read + re-read) , FA for Wards (pre-read + re-read) , Uworld ( Q + As first pass) + OnlineMedEd (3rd pass), MTB3 (3rd pass), FA for Wards (3rd pass), and Uworld Answers ( review 1 – 2x) + Three – five full length nine hour NBMEs
    • This should take you approximately 350 – 450 hours if done at the above speed

So there you have it, the keys to your destiny. It now comes down to how badly you want it. This is a compilation of years of research, knowledge and trial and error. This will not be easy nor will it be fun all the time, however, in the end, it’s about learning medicine, getting a great score, then getting the residency, and eventual career you want. It’s within reach, go out and grab it.