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* best step 3 preparation advises from forum gurus
  demokrat - 01/15/14 23:38
  few important ways to prepare from forum gurus , good for newbies

1. Finally! Passed w/ 240. My test experience & tips
blankoff - 06/26/13 17:13

Time to give back. This test is a monster that is well worth fighting as a team, rather than isolating yourself from the world and letting time slowly fill you up with fear and uncertainty. Thanks to cardizem, stevio99 and everybody else in this forum who helped me even though it might've only been indirectly through their words, questions, etc. I became a little quiet after I took the test since I didn't want to think too much about the score and I had to focus on my real patients, but now that's over thank God (keep him always in your heart, and he'll keep you in his own).

The test is doable guys, but you have to give it your 120%. Nothing less.

Test date? June 1st and 3rd (yep, got that extra day!).

Test preparation time? 3 months total, 2 very intense months (at least 8 hour of study daily). Taking in consideration that I work as a general practitioner and emergency physician in my country, which I've got to admit, helped a lot! To be honest, if you've never taken care of patients before in your life, this test will rip you apart (I think, might be wrong though).

Materials used?
I began with kaplan video lectures and books for step 3 (didn't use the step 2 ck books even though I had them. I had taken step 2 ck 7 months before I took my Step 3). BUT, I did use my uworld step 2 ck notes (extremely important. If it's been a while since you have taken your step 2 ck, I would even consider buying uworld for step 2 ck too). Finished all of this in almost a month.

Next I gave Master the boards 3 a couple of reads but ONLY for Internal medicine. I know Dr. Fischer is an amazing teacher, but the peds, surgery and other non-Internal Medicine topics are quite weak and non-high yield. I would recommend only reading the internal medicine stuff and make sure you read it at least 3 or 4 times. MEMORIZE it (and of course, understand it!).

Then I gave the kaplan Q bank a shot. It is defintely worth doing. Questions are very easy, and it's basically a question bank drawn out of MTB3, which is in fact pretty cool, since it's going to test how well you read the book for the first time. Make sure to take notes from those questions and write them on your MTB3. My Q bank total correct answers was 70%, first time, time mode, tutor.

Next I did Archer, the recorded lectures, all of them, twice. Wrote tons of notes on my MTB3. I made separate notes for stuff like peds, surgery, obgyn. Archer is a must since it's going to give you that extra % of details on stuff you already know. Make sure you do it!!

After Archer, I had to test my knowledge and see how well I was doing. I had only a month left before my test but when I read all of usmle forum topics, I found out that there was no single assessment or practice test that could very well predict your final score on the real thing. Not the NBMEs, not the Uworld assessment test. Then I saw this almost constant "pattern": your overall 1st time Usmle World % on timed, tutor or non-tutor mode. Now this is not an exact science of course, and remember that this does NOT take in count your CCS performance, only your MCQs performance. But I saw that people who ended up with a Uworld % above 55 were barely passing the test (190's scores). Those above 60% almost everyone was passing the test with top 190's scores and low 200's. Those above 65% were passing the test with top 200's to 215. Those above 70% were passing the test with scores above 220. AGAIN, as a disclaimer, I want to say that this is NOT exact and you may be scoring a 70% on uworld and still fail this test (or score a 50% on uworld and end up with a 260 on the real thing). This is only a mere observation from yours truly. I only did this because I was kind of desperate at the time and I wanted some kind of "fool's relief". Use this correlation with EXTREME CAUTION.

So anyways, I did uworld, timed, tutor mode, and my overall score on first time was 72%, which gave me some hope. I finished uworld in 2 weeks and I thought that I was over with MCQ's preparation but then I started reading about how difficult the real test questions were, so I had to do something extra. MKSAP seemed no different from my uworld step 2ck notes, so I decided to go ahead with Jason's family review. I had only time to do emergency, obgyn, pediatrics and surgery (which were the weak subjects in all other materials). I kept on studying from my uworld 2ck, uworld step 3 and jason's notes until my very last day before the test.

Also, the last 2 weeks I dedicated them to CCS too. I made myself familiar with the primum software. Make sure to do the 6 practice cases from the usmle webpage. I then bought the archer recorded lectures (the one that includes around 6 o 7 lectures from february 13' etc, I think). I did them all only once since they repeated themselves a lot. But still this is a MUST. And yet, it is NOT everything you have to do. I think that the one thing that Dr. Red forgets to mention is that even though you can use the the CCS approach he does, there are other ways you can do it. You have to find the one that makes you more confortable. But make sure to listen to all of his Archer CCS lectures before you go on by yourself!! After the lectures I then practiced all of uworld CCS cases on the software plus the reading material. It's not that hard actually. I think it was the coolest part of the test and I LOVED it! (I have to mention again, that most of my cases were emergency cases so I it was almost like another day at work for me).

Actual test day experience? Day 1 can be separated as the following (at least for me): 3 blocks of easy-medium questions, 3 blocks of medium-hard questions, 1 block of extremely friggin' hard questions. Seriosuly, if you see one of those, just laugh, make and educated guess and move on. These are questions that there's just no way you can study for them unless you opened a sub-specialty book and specifically read a very small paragraph were the answer is. LOL. Make an educated guess and move on. The drug ad questions are easy, but leave them until the end so you have time to read all the other questions. The abstract questions... oh boy, well there's a bunch of them and you've got to remember your biostats. If you don't, then make sure to read something about it. I only read my step 2 ck uworld biostat notes and that was enough for me (mostly, because I almost always end up guessing in those questions anyways haha).

Second day was not that bad, questions were pretty easy that day. The CCS was awesome! I only had around 2 cases coming out straight from uworld CCS, but the rest were pretty easy. I think I only killed one kid and there was this other guy whom I treated and he became perfectly fine, had every single lab/test on normal values, but the case just wouldn't end. I have no clue what happened, but since my CCS performance ended up a little above borderline performance, I don't care anymore.

Final score: 240

I can't post my test questions or my actual CCS cases due to USMLE policy, but anything else I'll be glad to help you. Again, the test is doable. I mean, they're only going to test you about medicine right? (: !

Good luck everybody!!

2. Passed! Excellent advice and tips to pass
stevio99 - 03/21/13 01:09

As promised, I’d like to go into somethings that helped me pass. This post will deal with the high yield stuff for MCQs. I already posted about CCS.

In general, you need a “primary study book”. You need to go over this 2-3 times at least. Essentially there are only 3 good books for this: MTB 3, Crush the Boards for Step 3, and First Aid. I think for the exam, these books are spot on, but First Aid is a bit worse than MTB or Crush. If you use MTB, “study backwards”, that is the most critical stuff is usually in the ends of the chapters. This could be a problem if you study from front to back, as by the time you get to the end, your most fatigued and likely to gloss over the stuff at the end, which as I said is important. If you use Crush, make sure you know every line cold, it’s a very concise book. I used MTB for step 3, but I used Crush for step 2. Having taken the test, I can say either MTB or Crush is adequate. All of these books have “cracks”. Everyone knows what they are, but in case you forgot they are:
1. Vitamin/mineral deficiencies. Don’t forget minerals
2. Rett vs Apergers vs Autism
3. Bone disorders
4. Shoulder disorders
5. Knee disorders
6. Eye disorders, particularly disease manifestations in the fundal exam, and fundoscopic pictures
7. EKGs. Fortunately UW MCQs handles this in its entirety
8. Urology. Theres only a very few topics you need. Hematuria is always covered poorly.
9. Oncology of organ systems. Covered poorly in MTB, covered decently in Crush

Good luck on the cracks. I couldn’t even find a single resource which went over shoulder disorders well.

Is your knowledgebase current/solid? So if you have not seen this stuff for a couple of years or need to get up to speed, you need a more comprehensive study tool. If you failed step 3 badly (like I did first time, but passed comfortably the second time), you need to start with this. For me, I used Premier review. It completely got me up to speed. After I did it, I put a few things into my primary study book (MTB 3). I looked at the notes about 1.5 times, after which I put it away. You could also use Kaplan videos, or any other method you choose to get you up to speed.

OK, so your knowledgebase is current, you’ve gone over MTB (or Crush), you need a few other things:

1. Archer Review. The targeted review, it’s a bit pricey at $245, but is extremely worth it. At this point its almost mandatory. It handles a lot of the cracks as mentioned. Archer’s not gonna like this, but I used Orbit Grab it Pro to record the lectures while they were streaming. I did this because then you could play them back in VLC player at 1.3-1.7 times speed. This helped save a considerable amount of time.
2. MCQ bank. From Usmleworld. Not as high yield as step 2, but very mandatory. Do it 1.5 to 2 times at least. They were quite a few similar questions on the test. This is actually critical while in the test. Dealing with the time pressures is a major challenge. If your behind, and you see a UW similar question, pick the UW answer. This will help you be able to finish all the blocks.
a. The only other question bank to consider is Archer’s blog question bank. The highest yield stuff is the later questions. So again “work backwards”. Start with the latest question (#436 or whatever it is now) and work to question 1. Archer chimes in on the answers for some of the questions, for others, you have to look the answers up. Quite a few of the later ones were similar to exam qs

Other helpful things:

1. Taroyang flashcard sets on Just search for taroyang on quizlet. She made flashcards for MTB (a bit sparse, but definitely helps to quiz yourself). She made a huge 1700 flashcard set that incorporated MTB, UW questions, and other questions as well. You’ll have to deal with some Chinese characters here and there. She has a pretty good set for CCS as well. Another person with helpful flashcards was from “bangladoc”. His set is strictly flashcards from Uworld questions.

2. “Nail the Boards” from Bradley Mittman. I used the 2005-2006, and got it on Amazon for like $15. Its valuable if you have a hard time grasping a topic, cause it gives you mneumonics to remember them. Reminds me of the days of First Aid Step one where they gave you mneumonics in the far right column.

Least useful: Any “remembered questions” files. Most of these are from 2004 or before. The NBME has pulled these a long time ago. So skip BZ bee, morpheus, ghost files, etc. You’ll just be wasting your time.

In summary the winning combination for step 3 is (MTB or Crush) plus UW MCQ plus Archer theory. Must go through all these 2 times at least. As you get closer to exam, youll be reviewing mostly from primary study book, as much as you can.

Will post my exam experience in a bit, as well as my stats (UW%, etc) . Biggest challenge in test was timing. I think all of this advice is very solid and spot on. Fortunately most of this advice was handed to me from the forum. I went from 166/68 bad fail to 210/80 comfortable pass by these methods. If I can do it anyone can (3 months full time study).

Oh, don’t ignore CCS obviously. I wrote a pretty good sized post about it.

The time is now guys. Test is always getting harder. They’re splitting the test into 2 parts in 2014, MCQs and CCS. So you know people will spend 3 months on MCQs and 3 months on CCS, and the bar and curve will be set higher. Knock it out now and forget about it forever.

Just passed! my advice for CCS
stevio99 - 03/06/13 03:44

Currently doing the exam experience thing, with advice for those who are going through study mode. Will break this up into a couple parts to not bore you. Here;s the CCS part:

As promised, I’d like to go into somethings that helped me pass.This will probably end up being a multipost, so I’ll first cover CCS. I’d really like to help those who are going through the process b y clueing them into the higher yield stuff:

For CCS the highest yield stuff is (in order of importance):

1. USMLEWORLD print out cases. Definitely highest yield. Whoever told this to me in the forum, if I ever run into you, I will buy you nonstop beers.
2. Archer CCS, the $88 course
3. USMLEWORLD simulated cases, the 52 cases that you can practice on
4. 50 star cases:

I also used some other things:

1. Surveillance from the forum for the most recent cases in the past 6 months
2. Taroyang (that’s her username, just search for it) flashcards from I printed these out directly to business cards (Avery 28371, available at walmart) to do quick reviews. She also has a mondo set of MTB and UW review cards (1700 cards!)

I also used a dry erase board to write down all the steps needed. I used the flashcards to mix the cases up.
I really didn’t do as much Archer as I should have, though! The reason being is it is advertised at 30 hrs. It really isn’t though. Due to repeat cases, it ends up being about 13 hrs of unique cases. I’m currently typing out an index so you can jump to cases you need. For example, on April 2012 session , DKA is done at the 370 minute mark. Its also repeated at the 360 minute mark of the February 2012 session . Same thing, so no need to do it twice.
Its really important to practice on FRED software. For example MRI of spine is pretty much out in the CCS game, it takes many days to get it, so for CCS, your stuck with CT if necessary

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* Re:best step 3 preparation advises from forum guru
  doctam3 - 01/16/14 01:54
  awesome post ! and congratulations on your score :)  
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* Re:best step 3 preparation advises from forum guru
  jublee - 05/06/16 17:48
  great tips there!!  
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* Re:best step 3 preparation advises from forum guru
  jublee - 05/06/16 17:49
  and these 50 STAR CCS cases
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* Re:best step 3 preparation advises from forum guru
  jublee - 05/06/16 17:51
  here some solved imp ccs cases  
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* Re:best step 3 preparation advises from forum guru
  lamonti - 02/10/17 22:33
  Up to the top!  
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* Re:best step 3 preparation advises from forum guru
  testme2 - 06/12/17 20:21
  what are exactly 50 star cases ? were they on exam before?  
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* Re:best step 3 preparation advises from forum guru
  sandhu123 - 06/15/17 00:48
  @demokrat Could you please let em know a contact you. Retaking my exam in 3 weeks and nervous right now.  
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* Re:best step 3 preparation advises from forum guru
  frontallobe - 07/25/17 01:04
  Archers review for $245? Damn. Thats alot of money.  
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* Re:best step 3 preparation advises from forum guru
  mansa - 07/25/17 18:02
  good collection
frontallobe, i think archers for ccs is only $88
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* Re:best step 3 preparation advises from forum guru
  frontallobe - 07/26/17 01:33
  O thanks @mansa  
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