In this post, I’m going to show you the actual resources that have helped me as well as other students get 250+ on their Step 1.
But before we start, tell me if the following statement sounds familiar?
If you want to do well on Step 1, you better read these books eight times.
We often hear suggestions like this when studying for Step 1.
But during the most stressful part of our medical school journey, we don’t need 101 resources! We just need to know which ones we should use and which ones are nice to have.
That’s exactly what we’ll cover in this post. Plus, I’ll tell you how to use every single one of those resources.
Wait a minute! “If you want this post in a video format, you can check out my YouTube video below! Make sure to subscribe for weekly content if you enjoy this one!”
The Best Step 1 Resources To Help You Get 250+
A lot of you guys loved the Step 1 post that I made about the tips and tricks on how to study and how to prepare. So, I thought I’d make the next version of that post, which is basically about what resources you should use.
This post is going to cover a lot because I don’t want to give you superficial knowledge. I also don’t want to tell you that every resource is worth your money and time.
With hindsight being 2020, I’m going to honestly tell you which ones impacted my scores and the scores of students that I’ve helped.
We’ll first talk about the resources that are worth having which are essential for you to do well in Step 1.
Then, we’ll talk about some of those other resources that you hear about a lot, but you’re not sure if they’re worth your time or money. We’ll also talk about how to use each of them.
At the very end of the post. I’ll give you another resource that you could check out if you want more information and tips on Step 1.
Let’s get right into it!
Best Step 1 Resources You Need!
Resource #1: UWORLD
The first resource that you definitely need to have which I believe most of you are familiar with is UWORLD.
For anyone unfamiliar with it, UWORLD is a question bank that has over 2,400 practice questions which are written and formatted the way the actual test questions will be.
At the same time, they’re about equal difficulties as the actual test and they cover a good range of topics. They’re going to lead you to be well-prepared.
Most of you guys know UWORLD, but let’s talk about some of the nuances of using UWORLD in studying for Step 1.
Tip number one with regards to using UWORLD is to try to use it roughly 2 times if not 1.5 times.
That goes into tip number two where you should do the iteration of the questions that you missed instead of all the questions.
The third tip is that during your first pass through, you want to make sure that you are marking the questions that you missed, but also the questions that you guessed correctly on.
It could be anything you don’t understand! An example is when you read an explanation where you just guessed the right or the wrong answer and you clearly don’t understand the reasoning.
Make sure you mark those because if you don’t do it two times, at least you can do your missed questions and your guessed questions again. This is to make sure your weaknesses aren’t a weak point during test dates.
Again, do it two times and make sure from the very start you’re doing some kind of marking system to keep yourself accountable on your weaknesses.
Now, my final point is a huge one and I think students asked me this question a lot. That is whether you should start doing UWORLD a little bit early to get ahead.
The short answer to that question is no!
I would honestly recommend that you don’t start your UWORLD questions until your first day of dedicated. That’s unless your school has some other policy where it makes you start ahead of time.
To get a good grasp of how prepared you are and where your strengths and weaknesses lie, you want to make sure you see those questions for the first time during your dedicated.
You can use other question banks for your pre-clinical years but make sure the UWORLD questions are used during your dedicated.
It’s going to give you a good picture of how you’re doing and how much your progress is.
Resource #2: Sketchy Medical
Resource number two is a resource that you probably know of, but it’s not the second thing that comes to mind when you think of Step 1.
For me though, it’s definitely among the best Step 1 resources that’s going to help you raise your score with the least amount of effort.
That resource is called Sketchy Medical.
If you go back to my Step 1 video, you’ll realize that to get a 250 or higher, one of the things I recommend that will help you boost your score is to make sure you are doing a little bit of micro and pharm every single day.
These topics are very memorization heavy and they’re low hanging fruits. But they’re also the same topics that your classmates will avoid and instead try to spend hours studying cards to counteract their weaknesses.
But even if you’re committed to doing a little bit of micro and pharm every day, you’re going to make leaps and bounds of your final score.
With that being said, you certainly have to use Sketchy Medical.
Sketchy Micro is a resource that a maybe lot of you are already using in your microbiology course. Same is true with Sketchy Pharm during your pharm sessions.
If you’re a little bit away from your Step 1, I recommend you go ahead and watch as many, if not all the videos and start making annotations. That way you can quickly memorize!
Watch the pictures and the videos for whatever the section is related to.
If you’re not familiar with Sketchy Micro, it’s basically funny images and movies to teach you very high-yield topics so they’re super effective. But it does take you to time to sit down, watch and re-watch.
Because the resource is so time-intensive, try to get that done before you get to your dedicated because then you don’t have to waste time watching videos.
If you’re either in dedicated right now or you’re about to be soon, it’s okay. Just create a schedule where you lay out all the videos you need to watch and maybe particularly in the order that you’re weak with.
So, if you don’t know anything about any E. coli or of this bacteria and it keeps showing up on your exams like Staph Aureus, put that a priority!
As for the other ones that you know well, you put those towards the end. Same thing with pharm.
Make sure your schedule is rigid, stick to it, and try and do it within the first half of your dedicated so that you can use the rest of your time to practice.
In my institution, the students that used Sketchy Pharm particularly did better statistically on their final Step 1 score than the students who didn’t use it.
It was only a sample size of 240 students, but it did have a significant difference statistically.
Use Sketchy Pharm as it will definitely help you get those low hanging fruits and raise your score while doing so!
Resource #3: Pathoma
The third among the best Step 1 resources that I recommend you use is one that I absolutely love because it taught me the most important aspect of medicine.
This resource that’s so amazing in teaching pathology is called Pathoma.
If you’re unfamiliar with how Pathoma is structured, there are videos and a high-yield textbook, which looks like a workbook, that goes and coincides with the videos.
Similar to Sketchy Micro, I recommend that if you have the time and is still away from your Step 1, definitely watch those videos ahead of time!
There’s a lot of great illustrations that Dr. Sattar do during these videos to explain a concept.
Those same illustrations may not be in the workbook. So, what I would do is; draw out a picture that would remind me about a certain topic.
It’s a great way to memorize a complex topic with just a picture.
If you do the due diligence of watching the video, understanding the topic and annotating on your workbook, when it comes to Step 1 time, you just look at the workbook.
Similarly, with Sketchy Medical, you just go ahead and layout all the videos you want to watch and then structure them out throughout your four to six weeks.
Pathoma is highly effective and I definitely recommend you guys use it!
Resource #4: First Aid
Now, we’re starting to wrap up the resources that you need and I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence if I didn’t mention First Aid.
First Aid is that nasty mustard-looking colored blue book that you will see a lot with medical students. It’s super useful but it’s not really meant to study with because it’s mostly facts.
Unless you understand the concepts, you’re just trying to go straight to memorization! It’s really hard and intimidating to study during your Step 1 prep.
A great way to use First Aid is to use other resources that are kind of based on it.
Some examples are Brosencephalon and Zanki which are both flashcards that people have made and taken from First Aid. These are then made into Q and A formats which are a great way to learn in my opinion.
Another great resource is USMLE-Rx, which is a question bank made by the same people who made the book. But again, they’re question-based versus just reading a book and getting tired.
The typical way of studying First Aid is to simply assign topics that you’re going to do in the morning or the evening and just finish all the pages.
This is fine! I know it works well for a lot of people and they get great scores with it. But one, it’s just tiring and two, it’s not that effective!
That’s mainly because you’re relying on memorization. You can’t tell exactly which ones you don’t understand until you get to the questions.
Why not do the questions first? That’s one thing that I mentioned in my Step 1 video- questions over reading.
I highly recommend that you do the questions first. If you realize that you’re weak in a topic, then go back to First Aid!
Use that as a resource to understand the facts your missing instead of trying to memorize setbacks which is honestly more intimidating.
First Aid is great, but use other resources that are kind of built off First Aid. USMLE-Rx, Brosencephalon, and Zanki are some of the great resources.
You don’t need to pick all of them. Just pick one!
You need to make sure you’re using First Aid correctly. Otherwise, you’re going to burn yourself out without much result.
Check out First Aid here on Amazon!
Resource #5: NBME & UWORLD Practice Exams
Now we’re down to the last among the best Step 1 resources I’ll give regarding practice exams.
During your last week of prep, pick one of those days and do two practice exams back to back! This will be a nice mimic of the real test day experience.
A good approach is to use one UWORLD and one NBME back to back.
That way you can work your stamina when you want to have lunges or your bathroom breaks. By doing this, you will feel like you’ve already done this before.
Those are all the best step 1 resources that you need to be using to do well on Step 1.
Again, the resources are UWORLD, Pathoma, Sketchy Medical, First Aid and finally the practice exams from NBME and UWORLD.
Make sure you’re using these as they’re definitely worth the time and cost!
Resources That Are Nice To Have
Now, let’s quickly talk about some of the resources that you probably already heard about. Generally, they’re good to have if you have the time and the money.
Resource #1: Anki
A resource that’s technically free that I think is nice to have and use is Anki.
It goes with the Brosencephalon and Zanki cards which are pre-made, but I like to use Aki for Step 1 to make my own flashcards.
I know a lot of you just don’t care about flashcards. Maybe you think it takes too much time.
So, I’ll just give you a quick approach in case you want to try it out, if not, no problem! We’ll get to the next resource in a second.
Just as I mentioned, when you miss a UWORLD question or you guessed on it and you got it correctly, really you don’t understand it!
When you watch a Pathoma video or you do Sketchy Medical and there’s something that confuses you, make a quick flashcard. With this, you’re creating a deck of weaknesses.
It’s not pre-made by anybody else, it’s just your weaknesses!
If I had an exam that was the most important in my life and I had a deck of flashcards that represented everything I could probably get in the way of me doing well, I would definitely spend time on those flashcards.
That’s exactly what Anki is. It’s going to be super effective!
Maybe when you’re feeling like making some flashcards just do 15 minutes in the next morning before you get into the nitty-gritty.
Get in the groove and end your day potentially with another 15 minutes. That way you’re doing a summary of your weak points without really taking away from the study plan you’ve already created.
I love Anki and it’s free, but you can also use the pre-made cards from Zanki or Brosencephalon which works well.
However, the latter two are really made for people to use in the long-term and not during their dedicated. That’s mainly because there’s a lot in those resources.
They can be good quizzing material, but trying to get through all of them is just not realistic. On the other hand, Anki will be a great resource if you have the time.
Resource #2: USMLE-Rx
Another resource that was absolutely amazing during my prep is USMLE-Rx.
One of the things that you want during Step 1 is confidence.
A lot of the resources that you’ll use don’t give you that! In fact, they’ll scare you on how much you don’t know.
Then, the test day comes closer and closer and you feel like it’s almost necessary to move your test date.
USMLE-Rx doesn’t do that. Instead, it’s going to make you more confident that you understand the basics after all those hours of reading First Aid.
Again, it’s made by the same company that makes the book and they just ask board-level questions of the facts on the book.
If you can get the USMLE-Rx questions correct, that means you understand a good deal of First Aid.
Your scores will be higher in USMLE-Rx than they are in UWORLD as the correlations are a little bit off. But again, you want that confidence!
Perhaps, you can end your Step 1 prep with doing some USMLE-Rx to make sure you’ve mastered some of the basics.
That’s what I did! So, when my test day came, I was confident that I’ll do well and that’s exactly what you want out of a resource right before your test day.
Resource #3: Golijan Pathology Audio Lectures
The last one among the best Step 1 resources that I’m going to give you is the Golijan Pathology Audio Lectures.
Dr. Golijan is just an amazing lecturer of pathology and his lectures are just somewhere on the Internet!
You can probably find audio files of somebody recording one of his classroom lectures. They go through essentially all the major topics that Step 1 will hit.
When I was struggling on the repro-section of Step 1, I listened to those repro audio lectures several times. When my actual test day came around, it became one of my best topics!
It’s a free resource but it does take some time to pick and choose based on the topics you’re struggling with.
There certainly are items that will show up on test day because you’ve just seen the actual test so many times.
Want More Help?
There’s a resource you can check out if you want more! I’ve written a nice little guide where I tried to be brief and to the point on how to get a 250 or above.
These are tips and tricks that I put together with some classmates that have done well on Step 1.
We put together a planned study schedule as well as a resource that we use to get the highest score possible.
Check out the resource Master The Boards: Get 250+ on Step 1!And because you made it to the end of this post, I’ll also give you a coupon code so check it out!
I hope you enjoyed this article about the best Step 1 resources to help you get 250+ on Step 1.
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Until next time my friend….