USMLE prep during school year

I personally feel as though I can’t study for the USMLE right now during the school year because i have a hard enough time staying caught up on the new material, much less going back and reviewing old stuff. is it really essential to start now or have some of you done ok by just starting your review once classes were over? i finish class in may and am scheduled to take my step 1 in the third week of july…

Kelly, your current studying is good. If you’re not using USMLE-style materials as part of your current learning, I would suggest that as a way to help you kill two birds with one stone - keep up with your coursework, and also orient you toward USMLE.
I did not review until after the semester was out. Some of my classmates did.

Kelly, I’m with you. I’m just hoping that by keeping up and learning things well this year, along with my study time before the exam will be enough-- and you have more study time than I do! I finish in May, and our third year starts July 6th, so I only have six weeks. (June 22nd is my big day). But I’m pretty sure that is how last years class did it (they were the first ones with the early start of third year-- the idea is to give us more time for electives before making residency choices), and they seemed to do fine, so I’ll trust that it’s possible. But I’m still terrified.

Epidoc, your schedule is about what mine was for Step 1. Now, I could’ve done better on it, admittedly, but I didn’t disgrace myself! And truthfully I don’t know how much longer I could’ve stood (standed?) it. I was sooooooo sick of studying. i am pretty sure that if you look at a log of my posts from May-June 2002, you would find lots of whining and comments about procrastinating.
If you aren’t doing it already, definitely use Board review sources as studying adjuncts for your coursework between now and the end of 2d year, especially for the big cumulative exams that you’ll have to close out the year. I did NOT do enough of this, in hindsight, and I am quite sure that it would have helped me considerably.
I think one reason Step 2 was better was that I’d done shelf exams, which are also produced by NBME, for just about all of my third-year rotations… whereas prior to Step 1, I had done only two shelf exams at the conclusion of 2d year. (I know some schools do more.) The more studying you can do in that Q&A format, the better.

My big day is June 24th (we start 3rd year on June 30th). I too am terrified. I’ve started reviewing the BRS physiology book as we do each organ system for pathophysiology, but I’m not sure how long this will last as each exam gets closer (we are on a block system and this is my first block trying it). I feel like I will be doing good just to finish this year without any fatal errors, get the most out of this material, and study like mad for 5 weeks.
There seems to be a group of us second years who will be travelling this road (and commiserating) together. Good luck and happy studying.

Hi Tara,
You really can review for USMLE Step I in four weeks. Because I had been given a paid summer fellowship between my second and third year, I was required to take USMLE Step I early. I had max three weeks to review and actually took the exam after two weeks. I used Q-Bank and nothing more. You need to concentrate on STUDYING for your classwork for mastery of the material and REVIEWING for USMLE. If you have mastered your classwork, USMLE will not require any additional learning. What you will have to do practice doing questions. USMLE does not have any “EXCEPT” type questions so if your medical school loves these (mine did) I got used to doing a different format. I actually found USMLE much easier than my course exams and I did very well. I did do BSS during my first and second year but I was not anal about doing these. I didn’t worry about my score and I took about two hours each weekend to do some BSS questions. If there was an area that I felt weak in, I reviewed that material only.
Please, please get plenty of rest before you actually take the exam. I finished Step I in five hours but Step II took almost 8 hours for me. That is a grueling day at this period in your career. I did find that Step III was not as bad as either of the previous two steps because I am used to working at least 16 each day. Eight hours is a cake-walk now.
The people who generally fail USMLE are the rote memorizers. If this has been your style, you might have some difficulty. Also, Q-Bank is more difficult than the actual test so don’t get crazy if you are getting scores like 50% or 60%. Look for a rising trend in scores as you move along. I also loved that Q-Bank can actually simulate the actual exam conditions.
Good luck!

Dr. Belle,
Thanks for the words of encouragement (one of the great reason’s I love this place). Actually, I am not a rote memorizer, which was one of my problems in first year when we had lots of “except” questions. Second year has been much better since we have more case-based exam questions that are not of the “except” type, so this year has been a lot more enjoyable.
One of the reasons that I have been reviewing the BRS physiology was that I struggled in the cardio block last year in physiology and that I needed to be sure that I understood some of the basics of the physiology before trying to tackle the pathophysiology. Fortunately, when I read most of it I’m thinking to myself “How did I not understand this last year” and other times this year’s classes have helped me fill in some of the gaps of things I didn’t quite fundamentally understand the reasoning behind. It’s neat how your mind really does start to think in a clinical way as you progress through school.
Again, thanks for the encouragement!!

Funy, but as I am doing Physio right now, for the second time (first time was Graduate school), I find BRS full of gaps. I am using baby Guyton as a stand by, but use Interactive Physiology CD for animations and understanding conceptual stuff and my Barry notes for the material since its a redaction of NMS, BRS and Guyton.
I also bought Netters Physio and refer to that for graphs and illustrations. It is quite good for people wanting to get thru Medical School reading comic books and looking at cartoons.