Prep time: 22 Months (16 months of passive off-and-on study+ 6 months of active prep)
I am 2.5 yrs post med-school.
I started nursing the ambition of writing the USMLE during my first pre-clinical year and my plans eventually became concrete towards the end of medical school with the help of my friend Oni Olanrewaju Joshua who helped supply my first set of step 1 resources.
So, I started my internship in 2015 with one thing in mind: to save as much as I can for step 1 and step 2 CK. I believe CS will sort itself out by God’s grace.
Two months into my internship, I started my preparation by reading Kaplan materials. However, like housemanship everywhere, I had very little time after work to read. However, I made it a point of duty to read at least two hours after work and one hour before work. Even with this, I soon found out that it was still difficult, but thanks to two of my consultants who trained in the US (an internist and an oncologist) who nudged me on when I told them of my plans.
I continued my steady but goalless study of only Kaplan books, Goljan, Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple and “off and on” solving of uworld questions, till September 2016 when I realized I was close to my exam date of Dec 28, 2016. So, I decided to take NBME 17 where I scored 222. I was not satisfied with that performance so I rang up two senior colleagues: Oni Olakunle and Chimezie Mbachi Bar’joe. The first challenged me to aim for at least a 250, having recently written the exam himself and advised me to drop Goljan for Pathoma. That advice I heed. The latter admonished me to double my efforts and come up with a goal which I did.
We can safely conclude that it was after my NBME 17 (6 months to the exam) that I realized what was at stake and started to give it my all. Here was when I shifted my exam date from 28 December 2016 to 29 March 2017.
Kaplan books ×1: This was what I did all through internship and even for a few months after it ended.
Pathoma book for pathology×1.5: I initially did Goljan. I read like six topics before dropping it.
Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple ×1: The book is okay for bacteriology, virology, and mycology. Use another source for parasitology.
Kaplan Videos: I watched Kaplan 2010 and 2014 videos depending on which I felt was more helpful for me. But if you are having problems with biochemistry, please do Kaplan 2014 by Dr. Sam Turco. That was my own helper.
Conrad Fischer’s 100 cases: I did this about two weeks to the exam and it was very helpful.
First Aid: Do this as many times as you can. I did it twice. The first got me familiar with it while the second reading was to help cement my understanding of concepts. Although, I did some parts more than twice
NBMEs: Did NBME 5 to 16 offline. NBME 17 Online (222; 6 months to the exam), NBME 18 online (246; 2months to the exam), NBME 19 online (236; 1 week to the exam).
WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY
-Spend less time on Kaplan notes
-Start taking notes from UWorld early. Didn’t start till 2 months to exam
-Repeating FA much more than twice
-Not giving myself post exam depression because of the seven questions that I failed that kept coming to my mind.
PS: For those who asked if they could combine work with studying, I worked all through my period of study except for the last three weeks of prep.
This article was first posted on Facebook. It was edited and published here with the permission from the author.
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