How to study for USMLE Step 1 - resources and study tips | KharmaMedic

What is up guys karma medic here and welcome back to another dose if you are new to the channel

Hi, my name is Nasir and I'm now a third-year

international medical student studying at King's College London and right now between my third year and my fourth year of medical school is what I'm

studying and preparing for the USMLE exam

the reason that I'm making this video is that if you're an international medical student like myself

So you're not studying at a medical school in the United States. Well, then nobody really talks about the USMLE

Nobody tells you or teaches you how to prepare for it, and it's all very very confusing

So I'm making this video

Hopefully to help people who are currently in the same situation that I was two months ago who are looking at the USMLE

exam, not knowing where to start or how to prepare for it. I feel like I finally found my routine

I found my groove

I've done a lot of research and I feel confident and ready to make this video. If you've already taken the USMLE exam or currently

studying or preparing for it, please do share any tips or tricks in the comments down below!

I would love if we could create this community of helpful knowledge information and resources just to help each other out a bit during this

very difficult time. The first thing that I want to say about studying for the USMLE step 1 exam is that this is a very

long process. This is a very hard process and a very expensive process

It's an 8 hour long exam that takes the average student between 6 and 9 months to study for so in case this is the

first time you're doing research about the USMLE step 1

I think it's a good idea to know what you're up against. If you're an IMG

like myself then your medical school is not going to give you dedicated time off in order to study for this exam

so you're probably gonna have to carve a routine into your already existing medical school schedule, studying

you know, after lectures, after hospital placement in the evenings and on the weekends and things like that

so it is a really difficult and self-driven

motivational process and having it detailed but flexible schedule is something that's gonna be very

important to managing your studying over long periods of time and I'll get into that in a little bit when I talk about the cram

fighter app. Now as you can imagine or if you've done any research at all

I'm sure that you know that there are tons and tons of different

resources out there to help you prepare for the USMLE exam, thankfully

I know a group of people who have already written this exam and I have friends who are currently studying and preparing for this exam

right now and so after talking to all of them and doing tons of my own research online I've accumulated what I believe to be

the best resources to help you study and prepare for the USMLE exam. Okay

So here's the long list of resources that I'm using in order to prepare for the USMLE step 1


the first aid book 2020 Edition, Boards and Beyond video lecture series

path oma video lecture series with the accompanying textbook sketchy micro, sketchy farm, Anki flashcards, and then for the question banks

I'm currently using USMLW RX and I will be using Uworld Question Bank in the future and lastly the cram fighter

application for scheduling all of this madness now

That's obviously a lot of resources and it's a lot of different material to wrap your head around but honestly as an international medical graduates

where we don't have the curriculum

And the nature of the USMLE built into our already existing medical school schedule

I feel that a lot of these resources are necessary in order to put us on the same page and beyond what the average

US medical student is exposed to. A quick disclaimer is that you obviously don't need all of these resources in order to do well on

the USMLE step 1 exam

these are just resources that I've been finding very helpful in my studying and my

preparation and then I wanted to share with you in this video

alright now let me break down each one of those resources and tell you what it is that I'm using them for and why I

Find them very helpful

Keep forgetting to drink coffee

Alright guys, let's start off with first aid for the USMLE step 1

This book is basically the holy mecca for students preparing for the step 1 exam

You pretty much can't say the words USMLE step 1 without saying first aid, they go hand in hand

It is a condensed collection of high-yield facts and important points. Obviously, it covers all of the different organ systems

It covers both physiology and pathology and it even covers biochemistry immunology Public Health Sciences ethics and things like that

It's basically like a syllabus of high yield content for the step 1 exam

I've followed the advice of all the students who I talk to have taken this exam before me and I've written down all of my

Notes annotated in this one book

And the reason that I've done that is because you're gonna be accumulating information from a wide range of resources

And it's very useful to have everything in one place

it's kind of like your

Encyclopedia if you want to search up something and get all the information that you've gathered for that one topic in one place

This is where I'm gonna do it. Ok. The next resource that I'm using is the Boards and Beyond video lecture series

This is a comprehensive video lecture series narrated by dr. Jason Ryan and it covers pretty much everything

It's as close as you can get the full curriculum for what you need to know for the step 1 exam

this is basically like your medical school curriculum from years one to three but tailored and focused for studying for step one as an

international medical student

I'll let you know right now that there's a

Decent gap between what my medical school has taught me and what I've come across in this video lecture series

So this will basically recap everything that you've already learned a medical school. And then teach you everything that your medical school didn't dr

Ryan is an excellent teacher

I love how he explains every topic his slides are simple and easy to understand and he's just fantastic

This is the interface over here and you can see how many hours each section has. I'm currently doing cardiology

So let me show you guys that right now

So as you guys can see here

There's videos for pretty much every topic that you need to know within the cardiology section and then every single one of these videos

It'll tell you what pages in the first-aid book to refer to so that you can go and take your notes in here

And then after every video there's a quiz which is just great because you can immediately test how much of that knowledge you've picked up

And focus on things that you might have not really understood that well

But I'm basically re teaching myself my medical school curriculum by going through this video lecture series

Recapping everything that I already know and building and adding on to that knowledge

All right


Let's move on to talk about path omma path oma is again a video lecture series

With this accompanying textbook that is taught by dr. Sutter or sitar

I hope I'm saying that right but this book only focuses on pathology

hence path oma now because this book focuses on pathology and this book over here include

Pathology and the boards and bullion's lecture also includes pathology, obviously

There's going to be overlap between these three resources

But the reason that I like listening to his video lectures is that he re-explains some of the complex topics in a different way

Which helps me understand them better and on top of that. He has a very very very high yield focus every other sentence

He says is accompanied by this is a high yield fact, and you should make sure that you remember it

I actually find this book very useful also because it helps organize information

In a different way that helps you sort of put it in a mind map a little bit better ended up

Annotating this book in here simply because I don't have enough space in the USMLE first-aid book

All right now moving on from path oma if you didn't know this already

I hate to be the bearer of bad news

but for the step one exam you have to remember a

ridiculous number of microorganisms

and medications and then an even

more ridiculous number of facts about each and every single one of those as a result of that you basically need to memorize a

stupid amount of material now since this part of the exam is very

Memorization heavy looking at blocks of texts or lecture slides really isn't that helpful and that's where sketchy medical comes in to save the day

sketchy medical takes every single

Microorganism and every single drug that you need to know and turns it into a sketch and because all of these sketches are so weird

strange and out of the ordinary

It actually helps you memorize all the facts that you need to know for these different microorganisms and drugs

So I'm personally using sketchy medical for microbiology and also for pharmacology

So if we take bacteria over here, for example, you'll see all the different

Microorganisms and the sketches that come along with them

Let's take Group B Strep, for example

So if I run through this video on 3X speed they'll get a bit of a better idea as to what I'm talking about

so every video has a sketch and they walk you through a story or a narration of

All the different facts you need to know about that specific organism and how it relates to this sketch personally

I'm much more of a visual learner

And so drawing out information in this way really helps us stick in my memory a lot better every student

I've spoken to who's taken the step one exam has sworn by this resource and told me that I absolutely have to use it

So I took their advice and I haven't regretted it at all

Sketchy medical also does physiology but because I have all these other resources. I'm not using it for that

I'm using it mainly from microbiology and pharmacology. Okay, so moving on to the next resource, which is Anki flashcards personally

I've never

Really been a flashcard kind of guy and I certainly would not be using Anki if I had to make all the flashcards myself

But we're in luck because there's a group of anonymous medical students who have already created a deck with

30,000 cards in it to help you study and prepare for the step one exam

Not only do they have all of those cards

But they include images and references back to first aid and other resources for the step 1 exam

They've absolutely done God's work when it comes to doing this and they deserve a huge huge thank-you from the medical school community

I'll leave links in the description down below so that you guys can go download this exact deck and they explain how to set it

Up properly and use Anki and everything like that. I am an absolute Anki noob. In fact, I haven't even started using this deck

I plan to use it in a month or so in the second phase of my revision for the step 1 exam

But as you can see here

There's a whole range of text for each and every different section and within each one you have even more

subcategorizations and let's click on one of these decks. For example, I can start studying now. It'll start asking you questions

You can hit the spacebar and it's like a flashcard

I mean, I'm sure you guys know how Anki works, I don't need to explain this

I'm excited to use these decks because it's a way to include active recall and spaced repetition into my studying routine

Which is at the very top of the hierarchy of studying techniques as far as it goes for memory retention and long-term retention of information

now the next two resources that I want to talk about are the question banks. Question banks are an absolutely


part of your studying

You have to be exposed to the questions and understand what the questions look like in order to know what they're going to be like

On the exam now. Let's start talking about UWorld for the USMLE step 1 exam as you can read here

There's over 2,800 practice questions that you can do, now

this is the question bank that is most similar to the real

Questions that you will see on the USMLE step 1 exam and because of that most students like myself

we're saving these questions towards the end of our study period when we've already gone through all of this material and at least

understand it somewhat well so we can get a good estimate of how well

We'll be able to answer the actual questions on the USMLE step 1 exam

and so in the meantime

Until you study enough to feel ready to tackle questions that are going to be very similar to what's on the step 1 exam

I personally think that you need another question Bank another resource in order to continually test yourself throughout the studying period so you get exposed

To what the questions are going to look like in the future on exam day and you get to test your knowledge using active recall

And learn so much from making mistakes. Now. There's a ton of question banks out there

I've personally gone for the USMLE rx question Bank

I've no reason to tell you why it's better than any other question Bank out there

It's just the one that's been recommended to me by

Friends and people who have taken this exam previously and having used this question Bank for a while

I actually really like it because you can go back to previous

Tests that you've done like you can see here and you can review your question

So for each question that you do whether you get it, right or wrong

It shows you explanations for each answer why the answer is incorrect or why the answer is correct

And this is by far the most important part of the learning process for me

It's doing questions and knowing why I got the things that I did get wrong on top of that it

Directly links to the first-aids books as you guys can see over here. For example, it tells me right here

This is a screenshot from the first-aids book and I can go back into the book and look at my own notes on these

things so for each question that you do it shows you the relevant pages in the first-aids books that you can go back and

review that

material and that's obviously the most important part because you can learn from your mistakes and you can learn from the questions you get right

as well. When it comes to choosing questions to test yourself with you can really customize what you want easy, medium, hard.

questions questions that I've seen before questions that I haven't

questions that I've gotten right. questions that I've got it wrong and then on top of that you can also really narrow down which

Sections you want to test yourself on it's for example here by disciplines

You can select biochem and biology epidemiology whatever or you can go by organ system

Hematology musculoskeletal and neurology whatever or you can organize by first-aid topics

Which is great because after I finish a chapter in the first-aid book

I then go on to do the same chapter in path oma and want something with that I come here and I choose that

Specific section that I just did to test myself on

Like I said before I think question banks are an extremely valuable resource when it comes to preparing for any test

And I certainly have found using this question Bank very helpful

now finally the last

Resource that I'm using to study for the step 1 exam is an application called cram fighter and cramp fighter is a scheduled making

Application which is just so so so useful

basically how it works is that you input dates for the studying period that you want and then you choose all of the

Resources that you want to study and use during that study period so for example over here I've selected

Boards and beyond I selected path oma, sketchy micro and then within each one of these resources you can individually select

What it is that you want to cover and each one tells you how many minutes it's going to take to cover that individual chapter

Or video or pages or whatever?

So then after you've selected all of your resources

You tell the application

how many hours you want to spend studying per day if you want to take any days off in the week or for example you

Want to take a holiday at some point for example here. I have unscheduled days seven unscheduled days

Any days you want to take practice tests catch-up days.

I've put is every second Saturday and basically you input all of this information into this program

What resources you want to use. How many hours you want to study

on what days of the week, on what weeks of the month you get to choose everything and then it creates a schedule for you

So for example if you look over here

You can see my schedule for the month of May

and if I click on any one of these days

It breaks down all of the different resources and things that I should be doing. It's for example on Tuesday, May 5th

I have all of these different things scheduled

I have a whole bunch of boards and beyonds video lectures for the he Munk section

It looks like and then 57 questions of

USMLE rx to do. Now because like I mentioned before the average student spends between 6 and 9 months studying for this test

I think it's so vital to be able to have a schedule like this that helps keep you focused and on track for that whole

duration of time and if one day for example

You're having a bad day and you don't do any studying. You just let cramfighter know that in the

Application and then it shifts all of that content over the remainder of your days

So it's very flexible now, don't get me wrong

You obviously don't need this and if I wasn't using this, I would make my own schedule with a pen and paper


I think it's so worth it purely for that

Flexibility where you can change things around and move things forward or back if you decide to take a day off or whatever

Oh, okay. I think that's all of the resources that I'm using to study for the step 1 exam. Let me turn around and

Now like I already mentioned I haven't actually written the step 1 exam I'm currently studying and preparing for it

and so everything that I said in this video are my thoughts and ideas so far about the resources that I'm using in case you're

wondering how much this

costs I've chosen between the three and six month plans for all of the resources that I'm using, and so far it's cost me

550 pounds on top of that the registration fees for actually taking the step one exam have cost me over a 1000 pounds

So like I said, this is a very long process

This is a very hard process and a very expensive

Process with the USMLE step 1 exam if you write the test and fail then you can retake it

But if you write the test and pass then you cannot retake it again

and so I highly recommend

that when you decide to write the USMLE step 1 you do it once and you do it right and that's why even though all

Of these resources are really adding up and I'm gonna be hold up in this room studying for a long time

Like I said, I want to do this once and I want to do it, right

All right, and I think that is it for this video

Thank you so much. If you've watched this entire thing, I hope you found it useful, especially if you're an international medical student

I know that this was very very confusing for me a couple of months ago

If you've already taken this exam or are currently studying for you and have any useful information at all to share

Please do leave it in a comment down below

I would love it if we could share some of the information and some of the things we've learned from studying and writing this exam

And help each other out during this difficult difficult time and that's it for me, please

Don't forget to leave a like on this video and subscribe to my channel to see more content from me in the future

Happy studying. Good luck studying. I hope you're all doing well during this time, and I will see you in the next one. Peace

Let me turn around and