How to Prepare for Step 1

To help you best prepare for Step 1 consider the following 11 Step Study Plan:

  • Using coursework
  • Active vs Passive studying
  • Using review resources- USMLE First Aid, Kaplan, QBank, or online courses such as Pathoma or Picmonic
  • Making a schedule
  • Establishing a performance assessment
  • Using a Question Bank
  • Participating in a study group or mentoring
  • Stress Management
  • Using review courses
  • Final assessment to target weaknesses

In addition to a study plan the following items have been proven to best prepare you for Step 1:

  1. LEARN the material you are currently studying in your classes. 

    Approximately 70% of the questions on the exam are likely to use or combine information in ways that you have not seen before.  It is the purpose of the testing agency to see how adept you are at taking partial information and, based on that, figuring out an answer you consider to be a high probability response. You can’t do that with MEMORIZED material, but you can do it using material that you have LEARNED.

  2. KNOW how to approach multiple choice questions and PRACTICE. Some people seem to instinctively know how to answer multiple choice questions correctly, others not so much. There are test-taking skills that you can learn to help you answer these kinds of exam questions. 

    If you feel that your performance on multiple choice tests doesn't equate with your mastery of the material, you might want to think about having your test taking analyzed.

  3. ALLOW enough time to prepare, but not too much. Although you will have approximately 8 weeks from the time Year 2 ends to the deadline for taking Step 1, the vast majority of our students throughout the years reported that they spent between four to six weeks of intense study following the end of Year 2 preparing for Step 1. Please note, however, there is no hard and fast rule regarding amount of study time and everyone works at a different pace. Many students who have taken longer than 6 weeks to prepare later said they felt they took too much time, and lost ground with their studying (they peaked before actually taking Step 1). Just remember your preparation should be individualized to your study style and needs.

  4. MAKE a study schedule and stick to it. This is a critical step in successful Step 1 preparation.

  5. STUDY smart. Spending 10 hours a day passively reading study guides or old notes is much less effective than spending half that amount of time in active study. Explain concepts out loud to a study partner, practice answering questions by explaining why the right answers are right and the wrong answers are wrong. If concept mapping works for you do it. If there are other methods that work for you, use them.