Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Boards Recap

USMLE Step 1 Tips:

1) Essential texts:
- BRS Pathology
- BRS Physiology
- First Aid (started at UCSF!)
- Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple

2) Other great books:
- Basic Immunology (by Abbas, faculty at UCSF, he made us buy it)
- Neuroanatomy by Blumenfeld
- Neuroanatomy Made Ridiculously Simple
- For detailed biochemistry...Voet & Voet (from Paul)

There is an ocean of review books for pharmacology, gross anatomy, biochemistry, embryology from various series (First Aid has a review of the study resources), but I just relied on First Aid to tell me the important points.

3) Read BRS Pathology with Google Images and Wikipedia nearby...invaluable.

4) The age-old dilemma: Kaplan QBank or USMLE World? A classmate and I bought both qbanks and switched off taking tests on either as someone who has tried both...choose USMLE World because it's cheaper, has more realistic/harder questions, and the testing format looks EXACTLY like the real test with identical buttons, etc.

5) Goljan lectures are entertaining and enlightening and good for those few minutes of the day when you want to be productive without reading.

6) There is a free NBME Practice Test online.

7) Watching "House MD" on DVD as a "break" actually HELPED! Suddenly, tuberous sclerosis doesn't seem so foreign and you get to practice making differentials and seeing weird "zebras" dramatized onscreen.

8) Teaching MS1's (like in MSP) really helps you review material and remember it better.

Overall, I would agree with Craig's evaluation of Step 1...there were more behavioral science and experimental data analysis questions than I expected. Some questions were tricky...some were plain inscrutable (an oxymoron), and others were freebies. :)

Honestly, this might get me tarred and feathered, but I had a lot of fun studying for the boards. It was stimulating to learn new things (there's an ick factor tie between Google imaging STD's and various dermatological lesions) and having unstructured time to eat and play. I slept at 12, woke up at 9, studied for the most of the day in coffee shops, classrooms, or at home...went wine tasting, attended a mnemonics "party," ate meals at restaurants, and it was really only the last 4 days when I started freaking out (ehhh, probably not an endorsement, but there ya go).

Paul and I began studying in earnest around March 6 after formal classes ended, we finished BRS Pathology and Physiology in 9 days and then slowed down when we started reading First Aid in 5 days (read it several times, it's incredibly dense and every word is actually important). Then we started practice questions on Kaplan QBank and USMLE World while reviewing material in various sources.

Overall, I am fairly happy with my score, but of course it's my nature to entertain the nagging feeling that maybe I could have studied harder. Studying was a good experience, however, and I just have to admit that my brain and personality have mellowed with age. :)


Craig said...

"(there's an ick factor tie between Google imaging STD's and various dermatological lesions)"
so on the actual exam, i got a picture of a penile lesion (i'm not even sure what it was). i definitely got uneasy in case some other test-taker / proctor looked over at my screen ("how did you get porn on these testing computers???")

Stephanie said...

The most awkward story I ever heard was a classmate who was studying pictures of the Tanner stages of sexual development in Starbucks. Imagine being caught by a stranger intently studying a photo of adolescent genitalia!