DISCLAIMER: There are MANY study guides out there for taking Step 1, so this is by no means the ULTIMATE GUIDE and obviously might not work for everyone.
I took my Step 1 exam in June of my second year of med school, at the end of my two preclinical years. I started lightly preparing in January (~6 months before). I wanted to enjoy the first half of second-year and also my last winter break thoroughly to prevent burn-out. For me, that was SUBSTANTIAL time, but I also kept up with schoolwork and studied for my classes.
There is the 6-month marathon, which is consistent weekly studying. And then the 1-month DEDICATED study period. Which is a daily REGIMEN.
6 months (24 weeks) until exam:
- Buy UWORLD. Start doing question blocks (46 questions) x 3 times a week (138 questions per week) in either the topics you’ve covered in class or are currently covering. Untimed.
- I wanted to finish the >2400 questions ~1 month before my exam so I could go over it again. If you start earlier, you can do less questions per week.
- I started an excel spreadsheet for questions I got wrong/wanted to go back to, with my notes AND the page # where the information could be found in First Aid (FA). This is tedious but will pay-off during the dedicated study period.
- Start using Pathoma & First Aid along with your classes.
- If I was doing renal, I would read through relevant sections in each book and lightly annotate and highlight sections. I wouldn’t really add extraneous info from classes into these books, BUT I would transfer information from UWORLD/Pathoma into First Aid.
3 months (12 weeks until exam)
- Continue with Pathoma, First Aid, UWORLD.
- Add second (or third) Qbank (depending on how ambitious you feel). Also add notes to excel sheet.
1.5 months (6 weeks until exam)
- Take first NBME practice exam (out of 7 in total).
- For us, this was offered by our school. I dreaded this day. But if your school doesn’t offer a mock exam, just sign up for one yourself. Take it in a mimic test setting (like your library, not your home).
- Don’t let a low baseline score freak you out. I jumped 40 points in my last month!
- UWORLD: If you’ve been keeping up with x amount of questions/week, you should be almost done with 1st pass!
- First Aid/Pathoma: Go over sections not covered in class in your own time!
- Rx/Kaplan: Keep trucking.
DEDICATED 1 MONTH PERIOD (4-5 weeks until exam)
- Start 2nd pass of UWORLD. Continue with 2nd/3rd Qbank. Timed.
- This is where your giant excel sheet you’ve been culminating for the past 6 months comes in handy. For every wrong question, FLAG/HIGHLIGHT the question in your spreadsheet. I literally printed out my excel sheet and turned it into a book for easy flipping. Don’t underestimate how long it takes to REVIEW Qbanks. That’s the bulk of your studying.
- Finish 1st pass of First Aid/Pathoma. Try to do 2nd pass if you can.
- Take one NBME exam each week.
1 week until exam
- Take maybe one more NBME exam. Don’t psych yourself out too close to exam date.
- Go over your Qbank excel spread sheet.
- Go over weak areas in First Aid/Pathoma.
Day before exam
- Some people study, others relax.
- Get up early so you can have a good night’s rest.
Day of exam
- Bring snacks and water! Granola bars, chocolate, nuts, etc to munch-on between breaks.
- Wear comfy clothing with NO or FEW pockets (to make security check quicker during your timed bathroom breaks).
- CRUSH THE EXAM.
- RELAX! CELEBRATE!
- Don’t think about the exam anymore. Everyone feels like they failed it.