USMLE Step 1 Resources for IMGs - The 4 Resource Method

So you want to take the USMLE step 1 but you're overwhelmed by the massive number of resources out there?

After over a year of research (this is my second time preparing for this exam) I feel like I have finally found my rhythm, and I am confident that if you master these 4 resources you will achieve your USMLE dream score!

Anki flashcards πŸ™‡β€β™‚οΈ

Anki fundamentally is just a flashcard application, but what makes it so powerful is its use of spaced repetition, and active recall, which are two of the best ways to memorise information.

I recommend you download the ANKING deck from the medical school anki subreddit. It covers all the content from all the resources you need, and its updated pretty regularly. Check out the link below for a guide of how to use anking in med school.

Don't bother with first aid, all its information has been transcribed into the Anking deck, so it's kind of redundant nowadays, and I believe that reducing resource overload is key to success on this exam!

r/medicalschoolanki: Reddit for Anki in medical school.

Pathoma 🫁

"All praise Dr. Sattar, for he has blessed us with pathoma" - every medical student ever

What I love about Dr. Sattar's teaching style is his focus on concepts rather than rote memorisation. He will tell you when a concept is high yeild for the exam, meaning it comes up more than other topics, so you can focus in on what he is saying.

Pathoma is a video lecture series wiht accompanying textbook focusing specifically on pathology. But don't be fooled by the small book, it is deceptively dense. You need to master this book back to front, but chapters 1-3 are particularly high yield.

Go through the lectures and annotate in the margins in the book, and then unsuspend the cards in anki so you don't forget anything.

Sketchy ✍️

So the bane of most students existence on this exam is memorising the ridiculous number of drugs and bugs, and all the information for each. It is easily overwhelming to look at text books and try to memorise blocks of text, and this is where sketchy comes in.

Sketchy utilises the 🧠 πŸ› memory palace technique, also used by championship memory athletes, to turn every drug and micro-organism into a narrative or story.

I tried sketchy but it just didn't work for me, what do I do!!!

Learning through cartoons is very weird and different in the beginning, I remember I struggled when I started using it, but I stuck with it and I am so glad I did. It turned a subject that used to give me huge anxiety, into something I barely think about!

Go through the videos, and unsuspend the cards in anki as you go (noticing a pattern here? πŸ˜‰)

U-World 🌍

If you take something from this article, it should be twofold:

  1. You have to start a question bank as soon as possible
  2. There is no such thing as a 'wasted question'

Many people including myself procrastinated on starting a q bank for the longest time because you think that you don't know the material well enough so you would be wasting question. This is a mistake - there is something to learn from every question.

Start off just by doing 10 questions a day to get you into the rhythm, but closer to the exam try to get it up to 40 questions per block, because that is how many are on the real test. You can start off with non-timed and graduate to timed mode when you get better at questions, but I do not recommend using tutor mode at all, its distracting and in my opinion youre better off analysing all Β the answers to all the questions at the end.

Personally I would do questions in the topic you are currently studying so you stand some chance of answering them. Check out this awesome video on how to approach questions you have no idea how to answer, it is a long one but I guarantee it will change your life!

After you have finished you need to review your answers. This is the most important part of the process, you should be spending double the amount of time reviewing your answers, that you spend answering questions.

  • Spend the least amount of time reviewing questions you got right.
  • Focus on questions you got wrong, or questions you got right for the wrong reason.

Obviously its also possible that you just haven't studied that topic yet and in that case make a note of the topic and try and find out how you could have better guessed the answer based on information in the question stem.

The idea here is to focus on correcting your line of reasoning that lead you to the wrong answer, and making flashcards on anki so you don't forget that reasoning.

If youre 12 months out then I would tell you to start Uworld. I do not agree with the people that think you should save Uworld till just before the test, I did that the first time and I ended up only completing like half of it. Theyre continuallly adding questions and there are like 3k questions total, I promise you it will not hurt you to reset and do a few more questions if you accidentally finish early, I would rather finish my qbank early rather than late and have to start amboss or something. Uworld is best used as a learning resource, not as a testing resource just before your exam.

If you got this far, thanks for reading such a long post. I hope it was helpful to at least someone out there! If you guys have any specific questions the fastest way to reach me is via twitter DMs 🐀 Subscribe for future newsletters on my IMG journey. Cheers!

πŸ’Œ Subscribe to The IMG Journey

πŸ“š Join our growing community of friendly readers πŸ“₯ Every Sunday I share important information and actionable insights, to help you succeed on your IMG Journey πŸš€ We would love to have you!