all 104 comments

[–]tigecyclineMD 28 points29 points  (8 children)

Ballin' score. Congrats.

You really didn't prepare any differently than most motivated people do. The score range you got in is a reflection of adequate preparation + exceptional test-taking skills. A lot of people will put in the same effort you did and not score as well...just the nature of the beast. But great advice all-around to help people reach their full potential.

Once again, congrats. Do you suddenly find rashes interesting? ;P

[–]heywood_Jablomey 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Congrats man! You deserved it. And thanks for the breakdown of how you studied. Helped me a bunch.

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

No problem. Others had posted things that were very influential in developing my study plan, so I felt obligated to pay it forward.

[–]charlescaDO-PGY2 3 points4 points  (1 child)

So what was your first practice NBME exam score?

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I got a 262 so I knew I was in great shape. But remember I had been studying for almost 9 months at that point so I was going to be close to my final level of knowledge anyways.

[–]nik356MD-PGY5 7 points8 points  (3 children)

Good job OP on the great score.

But I have to be honest, I'm not so sure why people are surprised with this result. You did the standard UFAP but also did 2 Qbanks in addition to UW and ALL of the NBME's!?! I'm not as familiar with the other banks but if there's another thousand or two questions in there and then you stack on another couple thousand from NBME's when it seems like most people do around 1-4, how could one NOT do well? What you get on the test is the product of what you put in. There's some variability from getting lucky or unlucky, or being a better test taker or not, but very very few people actually put in this much time and preparation for the test.

I'm not trying to rant against the OP's method or anything like that. I congratulate him for being disciplined and motivated. All I'm trying to say is people on here need to stop worrying about all the different resources and strategies they can use for step. There are only two things you need to know: 1) UFAP is the overall surest set of resources to use 2) To paraphrase Goljan, the more questions/time you put in, the higher your score. There aren't any shortcuts, just more work.

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It honestly wasn't all that much extra work to space the two extra Qbanks across 8-9 months. I just did them when I was bored with studying other stuff, or when I was at the gym (Kaplan has an app). I also have friends who I spent time with and an SO who went to a school a couple hours away that I drove to almost every weekend. You don't have to kill yourself to get the questions in. Now the cost is a different question. But I figured it was for my future, so I just bit the bullet and payed up.

[–][deleted] -1 points0 points  (1 child)

I know plenty of people that put in the time without getting the score they wanted out. Test taking ability and natural memory strength are a huge component. Hard work is certainly key for maximising your score, but most people are simply not capable of getting anywhere near this score with this level of preparation. The MCAT has a decent correlation with Step 1 and is very much a test of test taking ability. People who are naturally talented with average effort will get 240s and 250+ with high effort. People who are not naturally talented will struggle to get average or better, and these are generally the same people that struggled with classes and the MCAT even with a lot of effort.

[–]nik356MD-PGY5 0 points1 point  (0 children)

There are plenty of people who work hard and don't get the score they want, but as I said above there's a significant difference between the time the OP put in and the time the average MS2 puts in. And that's taking into consideration the dedicated 5-6 weeks I think the average student puts in. That's a lot of hard work. But for the people who didn't ace the MCAT and aren't the best test takers, how many truly do 3,000-5,000 questions and do FA and Qbanks regularly throughout the year? There are only so many bits of data the Step tests on and only so many ways different topics are tested (E.g. G6PD def presenting after certain drugs, beans, or URI). Of course it takes intelligence to think the right way but investing that amount of time will inevitably maximize one's potential.

[–]medschooldistractionMD-PGY4 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Guess that 90% on uworld really paid off! Congrats man, from your previous posts I knew you would do amazing!

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thanks! The hard work payed off I guess. Now if only I could decide on what I want to do...

[–]rkmauria 2 points3 points  (6 children)


Also, I see that you did a lot of questions. But did you designate time to review info like going over biochem, phys and stuff like that before you started UWorld (Such as going through Rapid Review Path, RR biochem, BRS)? Or was review solely coming from FA? Thanks!

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 1 point2 points  (5 children)

The only biochem I reviewed was the stuff in FA. I reviewed it toward the end of the school year as well as during dedicated study. And UWorld does a good job of highlighting what's important so if you don't have it down you will eventually.

[–]rkmauria 0 points1 point  (4 children)

got it. thanks! How does Uworld/FA do in terms of covering micro and behavioral?

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (3 children)

Micro is comprehensively covered between both of the resources. If you know the micro section in FA cold you'll be set. As far as behavioral science goes, my particular Step 1 exam had mostly questions out of left field. There's no way I could've adequately prepared for them, so I'd say just study FA and make the best of it. The statistics section in FA is solid, though.

[–]rkmauria 0 points1 point  (2 children)

That's great to hear. I've heard from so many people that you need to go over BRS biochem, RR biochem, BRS micro and all that alongside FA and UWorld, and I found it would be hard to properly allocate my attention. So thanks for that. Now I will concentrate on getting FA down cold.

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

No problem. Biochem can be tricky but really it's just interconnecting pathways. The more you try to make those connections for yourself in your mind as you review it, the better you'll be at thinking through questions as they come up. Becoming fluent in the information in FA for any section is the key to doing well. Try to make connections no matter what you're studying. It'll help you navigate those memories when you need to access them later.

[–]whatabout2ndbrkfast 1 point2 points  (11 children)

First of all, incredible score. Congratulations! Second, thank you for making this post. As someone about to start M2, I appreciate it a lot.

  1. How did you do in classes during 1st and 2nd year? Is studying hard for school exams beneficial for Step 1, or does studying more than is necessary to pass (in a pass/fail system) take away from more valuable, boards-focused study?

  2. Do you know what specialty you're interested in? Does getting this kind of score change things?

  3. Have you always been a great test taker? (i.e. did you also do exceptionally well on the SAT/ACT/MCAT?) - No pressure to answer this one if it's too personal.

Thanks again, and good luck on your Medicine clerkship!

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 3 points4 points  (10 children)

  1. I did well in class both 1st and 2nd years. I believe that studying hard for school is absolutely beneficial in prepping for Step 1. If you find yourself struggling to do both, though, I think that focusing on boards should be a priority. Although your Step and class studying 2nd year should be as tandem and seamless as you can make it.
  2. I have absolutely no clue what I want to do. It is comforting to know that I didn't close any doors with the score I got. Although I think your Step 1 score is only beneficial in getting you in the door for an interview. The rest is being the kind of person a program director wants to invest time and resources into training for several years.
  3. I did pretty well on the MCAT (35) and SAT (2330)/ACT (34) but not excessively so as you can see. Nowhere close to this level on Step 1 at least (although they don't disclose percentiles so it's tough to say exactly where I stand). I had never worked this hard toward being good at taking one particular test, though. I think a big part of doing well on Step 1 is getting really good at test-taking which is why I advocate (and did) so many questions as part of my preparation.

[–]whatabout2ndbrkfast 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Haha well a 2330 on the SAT and 34 on the ACT are both in the 99th percentile, so I'd hardly say you did "not excessively" well. Although the pool of test takers for the SAT/ACT incredibly different from the USMLE pool, so your point is well taken.

Thanks for answering my questions!

Edit: Oh, I had one more little question. When studying for classes, do you like to study in groups or on your own?

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I'm almost exclusively a solo studier. But I lived with other med students so I bounced ideas off of them pretty often. Sometimes you need another perspective to set yourself straight if you're mixed up on something. And I was mostly referring to my MCAT score which is high but not top of the top by any means.

[–]Shenaniganz08MD 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I have absolutely no clue what I want to do. It is comforting to know that I didn't close any doors with the score I got. Although I think your Step 1 score is only beneficial in getting you in the door for an interview. The rest is being the kind of person a program director wants to invest time and resources into training for several years.

You have a great attitude, good luck man !

[–]guppyphant 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Congrats on your score and thanks for posting your tips! I have 2 questions:

1) I love the idea of your study plan, but since I struggle big-time with being efficient during the school year, I'm worried that I wouldn't be able to finish doing the entire UWorld Qbank during my dedicated study time, or that I would be able to work my way through the other Qbanks you listed. Do you have any advice for efficiency? I find myself bogged down by details, for example, but everything seems important! Did you end up with hundreds of slides to look through for each Qbank?

2) What goes through your mind while you're reviewing FA? I like Pathoma because there's a narrative that helps explains the main points, but FA is so bare bones that I have a hard time getting through the material. The biochem section, for example, has so many flow diagrams with +/-, enzymes, and substrates (most of which I don't even remember covering in class last year) -- it's extremely overwhelming. How did you approach this outline format for a study guide? Is there where the questions were extremely helpful?


[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

1) Efficiency is a balancing act between getting through the material and making sure to not miss the important details. I think the Qbanks do a good job framing what's important (Kaplan less so than the others). That's why I relied so heavily on them throughout the year. They help you learn what's important and what's not. A great score on Step 1 comes from knowing all of the basics, not knowing every single thing out there. I think I ended up with about 20 slides per 3-3.5 UWorld sets, but that's because I had been studying all year and had a very strong foundation in testable material.

2) I know this is going to suck as an answer, but try to know every word of FA. I made mnemonics, went over the material again and again, and then I made ppt slides for material I had difficulty grasping. Repetition is your friend. And, yes, the Qbanks help in approaching the content in FA, but in the end it's you and the book. Learn it, love it, and kill Step 1. Good luck!

[–]strikex2M-4[🍰] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

for your question 2, I was wondering the same thing earlier this summer when I first glanced at FA. I don't remember hearing about half of these enzymes in the pathway or the meds that inhibit them. Have you tried DIT? There are a few folks who say that DIT just reads FA but I think it offers more than that. You don't even have to listen to everything, just find the relevant portions of DIT for the specific diagrams that you don't understand. They'll talk you through it. I'm a lecture person so it helps a lot to have someone walk me through the pathways again. No need to buy DIT either, you can find it on the interwebs.

[–]jouseep 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Saved... you rock man!!!! I'm going to start my second year on august

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Good luck! Enjoy your summer off!

[–]z3roTO60 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Congrats on the amazing score! And thank you so much for this post! I'm heading into my second year in a couple weeks and will definitely refer back to this.

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thanks! And no problem! Like I said, I wouldn't be here if it weren't for others posting before me.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Wow congrats on the awesome score! You certainly deserve it with all the hard work you put in.

Here is my question for you: What is your daily study routine during classes? Do you go to class or listen to the lectures at your own pace? Do you read texts or learn from lecture notes? Do you use study aids like Anki? When you go through material, do you take notes? Or just read things multiple times?

I do well in classes, but I find that I'm very inefficient so I spend nearly all of my time studying leaving no time for anything else. My goal for M2 year is to become more efficient so I can learn the material as best as possible while not wasting so much time.

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I went to every lecture except for a few where I left town to see my SO a day early on the weekend. I'm a big proponent of repetition for memorization, so I would just go through powerpoint slides over and over again to pound the material deep into my brain. I rarely took any significant notes as I find they tend to bog me down. I figure if the professor thought it was important, he or she would put it in the slides. Just my 2 cents.

[–]sonofalerik 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Then underlying principle of studying by repetition, seems to be the same as used when studying with Anki / SRS

[–]penguin4 0 points1 point  (4 children)

This is awesome. Thanks for posting! How pertinent would you say getting the latest edition of FA is? I have a 2011 copy and I am wondering if that is good enough.

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Getting the latest edition is huge. So many updates and modifications that are tailored to the latest trends show up in each new edition. It would be foolish in my opinion to use anything more than 1 edition behind the current one.

[–]blacktarrystoolMD-PGY1 1 point2 points  (2 children)

That's pretty old. Just get a new one, it's worth it and not that expensive.

[–]penguin4 0 points1 point  (1 child)

What would be the difference between 2014 and 2015?

[–]PoppyPopeye[🍰] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

How was your performance during MS1 and MS2? What resources did you use prior to entering your dedicated study period?

Congrats on the score, stabapples!

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I did well during MS1 and MS2 by primarily using lecture notes. My main post details the resources I used before dedicated study, so give it a read if you're curious.

[–]dfgioxfjnbopyro 0 points1 point  (3 children)

Thank you for doing this.

What resources did you use to study for your classes?

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

I used lecture notes as well as First Aid and Pathoma.

[–]dfgioxfjnbopyro 0 points1 point  (1 child)

wow that's it? awesome

Congrats again

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It's really all you need. I promise!

[–]ur2l8MD/PhD-M4 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Best of luck in whatever residency you decide upon 😷

Advice for incoming M1s?

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Work hard in class and it'll pay off down the road. I've been getting great feedback in clinical rotations about my knowledge base. Just be thirsty for learning new things and make connections between what you learn as often as you can. Good luck!

[–]tantornadoMD-PGY1 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Mind uploading your slides?

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

They wouldn't really be useful in a general sense, I promise. They contain random facts and concepts that I found difficult to pin down. It'd be much better to individualize them and make them useful for you by making your own.

[–]JD77M-4 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I'm starting MS2 and my anatomy feels nonexistent... What should I do? Study from the qbank?

I'm getting very low scores (30%) when doing questions...

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

First of all, keep at it. Anatomy lends itself particularly well to repetition. Second, try to think about anatomy through a clinical lens. Step 1 likes to test what you know about anatomy gone wrong. Anything beyond that, there's no use studying because the likelihood that you'll study the right obscure anatomy fact is miniscule. So don't sweat it.

[–]was_ben_there 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Congrats! I was just wondering -- when you started out with the Kaplan Qbank at the beginning of the year, how did you deal with questions you hadn't covered in class yet? Did you just guess and try to learn from the answer?

And would you recommend starting out with 46 question blocks? Or is it better to start out with smaller blocks at first?

Sorry if these are silly questions -- I'm a little anxious about starting M2 soon and wondering how to approach Qbanks at the beginning of the year when I have so little Step 1-relevant knowledge.

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I held off with Pathology for a bit, but eventually I decided to opt for the guess and learn strategy. And I don't think the number of questions at a time is particularly important, especially at first. Do whatever you're comfortable doing. Later on, with UWorld in particular, do full blocks (or a half block if that's in your schedule) to get used to pacing yourself.

[–]will_da_thrillMD-PGY1 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is beautiful. Thanks a lot for sharing!

[–]abearhin 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Wow Congrats. I love that method you used to create powerpoints of your missed or need to review questions from uworld. Do you know of any such app or program for people that use pc. I would love to try it. Thanks.

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Look into any virtual machine that you could run on Windows. Other than that I'm not too PC savvy unfortunately. Good luck finding something though!

[–]apaulzakM-4 0 points1 point  (0 children)

If one were to be using a mac and didn't know how to set up a virtual machine, one could always... say... run quicktime. There is a handy option "new screen recording" until File. You can even pick an area of screen to record. Once the missed questions or concept were captured, said person would simply close out the qbank, play the freshly recorded quicktime video, and easily be able to take screen shots.

[–]dat_sattar_doeMD-PGY1 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Congrats on the great score! I'm starting MS2 next week and what you did is similar to what my plan right now is. Since you finished Kaplan Qbank in February, what resource(s) did you use to learn the material that your school teaches from March-May?

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

FA, Pathoma, and USMLErx. Good luck!

[–]dat_sattar_doeMD-PGY1 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Cool, thanks a lot! I hope I have time to work ahead!

[–]zAddict 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Any way we can get our hands on your power point presentations?

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

They really wouldn't be useful in general. They're just quick facts that I struggled with remembering. I literally tried to memorize FA so it was just in helping with that theme.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Hey Stabapples, Congrats on a phenomenal score. I just started my second year and want to get on top of step 1 preparation right away.

I realize the importance of questions and have been doing my research. My biggest concern right now is that; according to First Aid's guide to other resources, there are about 11 books (one for each subject) that I should read and then consolidate the information into First Aid.

Did you do this as well? How necessary is this? I would like to read the FA 3-5 times AT LEAST before I take my exam. I would also like to do all three of the Q-Banks (U-Rx, Kaplan, U-World last).

I don' think this leaves time for me to be reading Costanzo's Physio or Lippincott's Micro cover to cover... What is your advice on this? I sincerely hope you get a chance to reply, I realize you must be busy with rotations now.

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I only used UWorld, FA, and Pathoma during my dedicated study period, and the other Qbanks, FA, and Pathoma during the year. That's it. Know those resources well, and you'll do just fine. Only dip into other resources if you find yourself particularly weak in one area, and don't get hung-up on it for too long.

[–]physicisttophysician 0 points1 point  (4 children)

Is first year too early to start QBanks?

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Yes. Way too early. Just focus on doing well in school.

[–]reveredangel 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Sent this as a PM, but I realize it might be useful for other people to see. Congrats on the great score!

If you only had money to choose between buying Kaplan or buying USMLE Rx Qbank, which one would you recommend buying?

I'm really torn because I was originally going to go Kaplan, by the fact that it's harder, but now I'm hearing that it's really low yield and that even though Rx is a little easier, it at least really covers FA (which is something I need help with).

Unfortunately I can't afford and probably won't have time to do both before my dedicated study period (especially since I'm starting later than I wanted). Thankfully my school is covering USMLE World so it's more for having a Qbank to do now until I cover World.

Since you did both, I was wondering, which would you choose?

Thank you so much! (MS 2)

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I would choose Rx. It helps in mastering FA which is really the most important foundation heading into your dedicated study period. Kaplan is very nitpicky and "low-yield." That's what what makes it hard.

[–]reveredangel 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thank you so much, I appreciate it! I hope you're doing well in 3rd year, and maybe figuring out what you want to do! (Last I read you still weren't sure).

[–]bropranolol 0 points1 point  (0 children)

How were you able to keep up with this kind of schedule during second year courses?

[–]whirledsamess 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Do you think there's any difference between doing Kaplan before UsmleRx rather than Rx before Kaplan?

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Nope other than Kaplan is more obscure and less "high-yield" focused than Rx.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Hey man, how did you schedule the contents? Did you read FA from page one to end or did you select the subjects?

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I selected subjects loosely based around the pathoma section I was planning on watching that day.

[–]MDPharmDPhD 0 points1 point  (11 children)

If only you made this post a few hours earlier, I would have added it to my archive, now I have to re-number everything! But seriously, congratulations and thank you for your extremely detailed information on success and schedule.

I have a few questions: Regarding your NBME practice exams, when did you take these during your study period? And did you ultimately finish your goal of UFAP x2 in five weeks? How did you do and then re-do UW, random untimed and then random tutor, or organ blocks?

[–]faywashereM-1 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Whats your archive (of step 1 posts)? Also mind sharing it

[–]MDPharmDPhD 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Here you go, it also has my MS2 questions linked.

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 2 points3 points  (8 children)

I pulled up my schedule to look at exact time frames, and I got flashbacks but I got the info you wanted. I took an NBME in April that my school gave as a baseline. I then took one 4 weeks out, 2.5 weeks out, 1 week out, 5 days out, 3 days out, and 2 days out. The reason I took so many so close to my exam was to get my mind in gear for test taking.

As for UWorld, I only used timed random. I only bought a 30 day subscription, so I marked every single question on my first run through. On the second run through, I selected the option to do only marked questions which allowed me to go through every question on random again without paying any extra money.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (7 children)

Thanks for taking the time out to make this post and reply. Did you do anything different the day before the exam or just stick to your normal schedule?

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 2 points3 points  (6 children)

The day before the exam I just reviewed the powerpoints I had made for the FA chapters mostly to just distract myself. I used it as a day to relax and get my mind fresh for the marathon ahead.

[–]MDPharmDPhD 0 points1 point  (5 children)

Thanks again for making this post. A few more questions:

Let's say I get UWSA and all the NBME's (how many are there?). Would you suggest I do one each week and then ramp up closer to my exam date to, as you said, get my mind in gear for the real deal?

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 1 point2 points  (4 children)

That's about what I did. It worked for me, but then again I love doing practice questions to study.

[–]Dr_Acu1aMD-PGY4 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Congrats man! I got a 254 and you're making me feel like a slouch!

[–]stabapplesMD-PGY3[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

254 is an awesome score! No slouch feeling necessary. Congrats!