I must have googled “How to study for Step 1” hundreds of times during my second year of medical school. The test was daunting to me, and all I wanted was to do well enough to have a chance at a competitive specialty, like Dermatology. My goal was to get above a 250 on Step 1. I succeeded in that goal, and here are my top 7 resources, in order, to help you do well on this intimidating board exam.
- First Aid. This is by far the most helpful resource for Step 1.
- How to use it: There are countless ways to get through the entire First Aid book. Find one that works for you and get after it.
- Tip: For me, I used different resources (below) for each section. For Microbiology, I used Sketchy. When I studied Cardio and Neuro, I redid my USMLE RX questions. To learn Pharm, I used Sketchy Pharm. And for Biochemistry, I used Board and Beyonds. You have to know which resource will help YOU hammer down the material.
- UWorld. If all you take from this is FA and Uworld, then you basically know how to study for step 1. Kidding kidding, you will NEED the rest but those are the two most important!
- How to use it: Another student who did very well told me to do Uworld once, and write down all the things you missed in bullet points on a document. Learn that document, and go back and redo all of Uworld again. She said the second time through you should be scoring above 90%. This is what I tried to do, and on my second pass I was scoring above 90 percent.
- Tip: The first time through should be to digest and learn the concepts. Take your time. It would take me an hour to get through 10-12 questions most of the time.
- Sketchy Microbiology
- How to use it: watch the videos. Pay attention. Watch them again. If you ever miss a Micro question on Uworld, go find the answer in that sketch for that individual bug. I used Sketchy when I was tired of reading or doing questions.
- Tip: If I woke up exhausted from too many days of studying, I would spend the morning doing videos because it took less brain power for me.
- USMLE Rx. I loved this resource. It is questions based on First Aid (my golden resource).
- How to use it: I did each section of questions when studying for my Shelf exams. It prepared me well for those. I also then used it to review subjects later on. I had trouble reading all of the Neuro section of First Aid for the second time (it was so long!), so I just redid these questions. Same with Cardio.
- Tip: After I would do a section of Sketchy Pharm, I would do the RX questions to test myself.
- How to use it: I used it during the school year to study for my shelf exams. It helped set a foundation for Pathology. I then re-watched every video before I even started dedicated studying. I thought this was very helpful for organizing diseases.
- Sketchy Pharm
- How to use it: Watch the videos. Pay attention. I only watched these once, then every time I’d have a question on a drug I was fuzzy on, I’d go look at the sketch.
- Tip: Keep in mind, Pharm is a large portion of your test. Many people did not use this resource because the videos are long. Everything in those videos are fair game for your test. I highly recommend this resource.
- Boards and Beyond. I wish I had found this resource earlier. It goes through all of First Aid with videos, and it’s incredibly helpful.
- How to use it: Everyone says it is the best way to learn Biochemistry, and I AGREE! I tried learning biochem 3 times and could not get it to stick until I watched this. I also used it for Ophthalmology and any topics I thought were really tricky.
- Sketchy Path. I did not use this until a few weeks before my Step 1 test. I had heard the videos were very long and Pathology was my strong suit (since I was using Pathoma).
- How to use it: Great for Immunological diseases. Great for Neurocutaneous disorders. I used it for things that just would not stick! Wish I had used it earlier.
P.S. I am currently a 4th year medical student as I am writing this post. I am applying for Dermatology residency in September. These resources helped me achieve my goal of over a 250 on Step 1. I began studying for this exam diligently 6 months before my test. I used the resources above and nothing else! If you have any questions on how to study for step 1, comment below or find me on Instagram. Happy Studying!
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