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How to score good marks in USMLE Step 1?

Every student is different. Every body has different learning style. Some are voracious readers but they are not able to score good marks in USMLE. This is all because they are not able to transfer the data from short-term memory to long-term memory and vice versa. To score good marks you have to repeat to remember and remember to repeat.

How your learning style impacts your score in USMLE Step 1?

How to score good marks in USMLE Step 1?


Many students have asked this question and they have sent me emails, inbox messages through Facebook messenger and written on the wall posts.

I am going to answer this question in a very different approach. Everybody knows that you need Goljan for pathology or Pathoma ( though I did not read this). You also know that you need First Aid, Kaplan notes minus Kaplan Pathology. You may need video lectures. I see students who want to help and will write the books to read for step 1 on the Facebook. Though they have good intentions but this really does not answer the question.

According to Neil Fleming, every person has different style of learning, some are visual learners, some are Aural (listeners), some read and write and others are doers. Similarly, you cannot club each and every student in one category and write on Facebook newsfeed and ask students to follow this to score 263 marks otherwise you will fail the exam. The big question-which is your category? Visual, Aural, Reading& Writing or Kinesthetic. Some belong to both categories or all the categories. They are fortunate. For me reading and writing was difficult. I had to listen in the class, make my own visuals and see a patient with that disease process so as to get it fixed in my neurons. Then later on I used to read and write which made lot of sense.

Let’s say you scored excellent marks in pathology, physiology and medicine and this means you are a concept person. But if you have scored excellent marks in microbiology and anatomy then you are also good at remembering facts and minute details. In USMLE, you need to understand concepts and then build the castle with remembering details.

How can we remember details? By repeating. Which is the best book for repeating entire step 1 in short period of time. First Aid. So the first book you will buy is brand new First Aid. ( Please note that this is my independent opinion and I have not been endorsed or paid by First Aid to say this. I have no stocks in that company also).

How can we remember concepts? 
If you are doer or kinesthetic person i.e. you remember stuff by seeing patients and then you go back and read about that. This means you need to do start with questions. Don’t start with USMLE WORLD, as you will need that to grade yourself later on. Start with USMLERx. Do retrospective approach. Questions first, then the concepts and followed by cramming. Still you have to do UWorld after all this. Most time consuming approach.

If you loved listening to classroom lectures and never bunked a class then you are in visual and listening category. Join Kaplan and listen to the tapes. Enroll in Pathoma.

If you are reading and writing person. You are blessed. You love reading. Buy that Goljan and cram it. I mean it. Cram Kaplan notes and then do USMLE World. Add stuff into First Aid. Don’t do USMLE Rx for questions.

Depending on type of learner, you will need to devote time.

The best time to start focusing on USMLE is in your MBBS. See real patient cases and read about their pathology, medicine and physiology.

I hope this help.

Ciao for now! Comments and Criticism welcomed. Don’t just like it, but love it by writing a comment “Love it.”

Dr.Harpreet Singh MD, FACP is a Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Vital Checklist and The text, graphics, images, videos and other material contained in the videos and iCrush Website ("Content") are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Dr. Harpreet Singh - Chief Editor
Dr. Singh MD FACP is truly a “Doctor in no hurry.” He has pledged loyalty to the noble cause of educating and empowering patients to understand their disease and fight back. He believes in giving the patients control of their health, and enabling them to understand the “Why” of their problem. He has gained wide popularity by his courteous and empathetic approach towards patient care and envisions a complete hassle free patient experience. He uses easy to remember checklists, which chunk the important facts about the disease in a day-to-day acronym. The ultimate goal is to make the patient aware of the risks and benefits of their actions, enabling them to be ready when calamity strikes, or to avoid it altogether.

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