I have been waiting sooooo long to write this post. I originally thought that as soon as my step 1 exam was over I would make a post about my study process/schedule and how the actual test day felt. But to be honest, even though the relief of having step 1 finished feels amazing……the true relief and relaxation didn’t come until i actually got my score.
So let’s start wayyyy back from the beginning of my Step1 journey….about 9 months out from test day.
During the M2 curriculum at my school we take 1 class at a time focused on a specific body system. (GI, Endo, Nephrology, Derm, Neuro/psych) So technically studying for class was preparing us a littttlleeeee bit for step style questions about those topics. On top of studying for class, I would go through each of the Kaplan questions about that specific topic. I didn’t necessarily love the Kaplan Qbank, but our school gave it to us for free…so I wanted to at least use it. Even though the quality of the questions aren’t stellar, it does help to solidify some of the information. I am definitely someone who learns better from doing qbanks than from reading textbooks, so i didn’t mind sitting down to do some questions at the end of the day. In addition to the kaplan questions for the specific topic, I would read the correlated First Aid sections. To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of First Aid and I definitely didn’t annotate in it the way that some people do. I used first aid as a tool to guide my studying, but that’s about it.
From Sept-March that was the extent of my step prep….I would focus on class work, do Kaplan and read the appropriate sections of First Aid.
Some of my classmates dedicated their time to Anki. I’m not sure what specific deck they used but I do know that it had THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of cards. I tried using Anki for about 3 days and absolutely HATED it. Haha But I guess that just goes to show that everyone has different learning styles and in medical school you have to stick with what works for you!
The real step studying grind didn’t start until after spring break, mid-March. We still had classes/exams through our school, but most students (including me) moved Step-preparation to the front of our priorities list and class to the backburner during this time. Here was my typical study day during my “dedicated” time for prep.
5:30-6:30am-wake up/drink coffee/read my bible&personal development book
7:00-12:00am- Q banks. I would try to get through 2 40-question blocks (exam mode) and review them before noon. A lot of days that didn’t happen because it took me a long time to review each block, but that was the goal.
12:00-1:00-workout, eat lunch, shower
1-4:00-Do 2 more blocks of UWORLD and review them
5-7ish: Watch sketchy videos, watch online med ed, watch dirty medicine (youtube channel)
***The rest of the night I would eat dinner and RELAX.
This was my typical schedule 6 days of the week….I took 1 FULL day off every week to reset my mind and stay sane. I 10/10 recommend doing that too. Taking 1 day off a week was enough for me to totally reset and get my energy back in the right place for another week of studying!
While preparing for Step1 I took 4 “practice exams” (5 if you count the CBSE that my school required us to take)….I did 2 NBME practice exams and the 2 UWORLD forms. I think there is some benefit to doing a practice exam that gives you a 3-digit score predictor….but in my experience, these forms HIGHLY underpredicted how I did on test day. So it was very discouraging for me.
Overall, step prep was a really mentally tough time for me. I hated sitting at my desk for 12 hours a day and I definitely hated staring at a computer screen all day. So if you are in the midst of studying for a big exam like this I encourage you to TAKE TIME AWAY from studying…..go get a coffee, go for daily walks, take a day off every week…..keep doing the things that bring you positivity and joy!!!
YOU CAN DO THIS.