I'm a long-time reader, and I wanted to share my exam experience and exactly what I did in preparation for the Step 1 exam. I will give you my week-by-week plan of action, and I will then describe how the exam compared to the UWorld qbank.
My Step 1 study plan: 2 month prep
Materials I used:
- Spiral-ringed notebook
- Lots of pens, hi-liters
- USMLE World question bank
- First Aid (most recent)
- USMLE Step 1 BIBLE
Week 1 - I used week 1 as my review week, what I did was I read through my Step 1 BIBLE and my First Aid in blocks of 1/2 hr at a time (with 10 minute breaks in between), for approximately 6-7hrs per day. In this timeframe, I was able to get through about 1/4 of each book in 1 day. Took 7 days to get through both of these books.
Week 2 - USMLE World qbank. The key to using the qbank is to take your time and get as much from each question as possible. I didnt just do questions to do them, instead I went through each explanation and extracted concepts, details, and even microdetails about the correct answers as well as the wrong answers. I wrote it all down in my spiral-ringed binder (by the way, this is going to be GOLD for you when you are done the qbank) By doing this, you can get almost a page-full of information from each question. Now this is a long and brutal process, but when you get a good score, you wont care how much work it took!
Week 3 - Continue UWorld qbank. I did questions from 8am - 11am, then read my Step 1 BIBLE until noon. Noon = break, then from 1-4pm i did more questions. That is week 3 in a nutshell.
Week 4 - I finished my UWorld qbank, at which point I had a full 300-page workbook filled with new information from my UWorld questions. This is highly important because the qbank seems to put a twist on all of the information from our basic sciences. Even in the most detailed study guides, they cant cover all of the crazy twists and tricks that the USMLE seems to throw at you on the exam. So at this point, I have 4 weeks left to study for the test.
Week 5-7.5 - During the last 3.5 weeks, I did the following 100% religiously every single day, and half day on Sundays.
7am- 9am: Review my UWorld notes
9am - 10am; Break (eat, relax, etc) * I took long breaks because this gave me enough time to attack my notes for the 2hr period afterwards without getting too tired.
11am-1pm: Review Step 1 BIBLE
2pm - 4pm: Review First Aid
4pm-6pm: Break (workout, watch tv, chat with friends, eat)
6pm-9pm: Review UWorld notes
Totals per day: UWorld note review (5hrs), Step 1 BIBLE review (2hr), First Aid review (2hr). TOTAL of 9hrs of study per day, monday to friday.
On Saturday: UWorld review 7am-10:15 15 min break, then Step 1 BIBLE review 10:15 - NOON. DONE for the day
On Sunday: UWorld review 7am-10:15, 15 min break, then Step 1 BIBLE or First Aid review 10:15 - NOON. DONE for the day.
Week 7.5 - Test day: I actually decided to take the FOUR days before the test completely off from studying. With 8 hardcore weeks under your belt, you arent going to lose it in this short period of time. I actually think that this period of down-time strengthened my memory, refreshed my brain and body, and had me at peak condition for exam day.
** ONE FINAL NOTE: If you notice all of my days started fairly early, on the four days before the test I maintained this early time since my exam was early in the morning and I wanted my body to be trained and wide-awake at this time.
ON TEST DAY - I brought a lot of food that is fast and easy to eat, and made sure it was all very bland and things I knew wouldnt upset my stomach (granola bars, fruit/dry fruit, plain water, etc). I do drink coffee, but coffee can make you urinate too frequently, so I took caffeine tablets instead which helped give me the caffeine I like to be focused without the need to get up and go to the bathroom after each block.
Ok, that's basically it. Some of you might think this is crazy intense, and trust me it was rediculously tiring..... BUT, and this is a big BUT..... My score was directly indicative of how hard I worked, which is ultimately extremely satisfying and rewarding.
I hope that helps many of you out, I know it worked for me and I am not the strongest student, but I believe that continually exposing myself to high-yield information from these sources instead of just moving through high volumes of questions for the sake of doing them is useless unless you take in everything that they have to offer. The UWorld qbank is the best, and the way I see it is that I would rather know EVERYTHING that is in there perfectly instead of seeing 5000 questions but retaining very little.
How the exam was...... It was very similar to the questions you'll experience in the UWorld qbank. Difficulty, design, and length were pretty much spot on, so this is my definite choice.