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What Preparation Materials Did You Find Most Useful?

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine students who scored more than one standard deviation above the national mean on the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 were asked to suggest tools and study aids they found valuable. Here are their responses:

  • First Aid: Used in preparatory phase (January to March) and dedicated (5.5 weeks). Likely three full passes. I used the PDF version for the "Find" function — saves so much time. Take notes on it. I would not waste time highlighting on it — literally everything is important.
  • Pathoma: Used only in preparatory phase.
  • Sketchy Micro: Used throughout. Two full passes, one taking notes on screenshots. Refer back to the picture/video with every ID question.
  • Lange Pharmacology flash cards: Used only in dedicated.
  • UWorld: Used only in dedicated.
  • Anki: I made flash card decks for facts I kept forgetting for UWorld questions
  • Cram Fighter: App to organize a schedule. I only used this for four to six weeks of the dedicated study time.
  • Kaplan Q Bank
  • Boards & Beyond videos: By far the best of any resource I used. It was like the lecture with First Aid as the corresponding textbook. Sketchy Micro is an absolute essential.
  • NBME practice tests: Helpful for extra questions, but try to not get too fixated on the score you get back.
  • BRS Physio: A great, quick resource to brush up on the basic physiology you forgot, because First Aid expects you to have a baseline knowledge and doesn't really explain physiology. I thought it was particularly helpful for GI.
  • Class notes: Especially for the last couple units. Don't underestimate the fact that you can learn most of repro-gu and heme-onc from class and have to review it minimal times.
  • The Goljan audio lectures: Can be legally downloaded from online for free and were very helpful. Although they may be a little dated, they are a great resource for reviewing step material during commutes. Dr. Goljan presents the topics in very memorable ways and does a good job of focusing on high-yield topics. I found that these are most helpful after having studied a topic in a separate resource such as First Aid or Pathoma.
  • BRS Pathology, BRS Gross Anatomy, BRS Pathology
  • All of the faculty-led review sessions: I used these as my starting point. I brought my First Aid to each session and started highlighting and transcribing the information shared by each professor. It was a nice way to help refresh my memory about each unit at the beginning and, as the time went on (the reviews went from April-May, I think), a nice way to review what I had already studied.
  • Doctors in Training: This program will save your life. It creates the study timeline for you, so you don't have to guess and stress about it. It provides quizzes for repetition. It reorganizes information in a great way. It includes high-yield info not found in First Aid. And, most importantly for me, the lectures are verbal, augmenting the reading you'll do in First Aid.