Study Strategies

Below is a survey of some University of Toronto medical students who took the USMLE step 1 last year. Thanks go to MedLife for providing the results! MBMLog 1.9.7

Any additional information (especially from other Canadian schools!), would be greatly appreciated.

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A post on study time:


Other explanations for question 4:

  • keeping options open for future (licensing)
  • Ask residents how painful it is to study for the step 1 a few years out of med school (wanted to avoid this!!!)

Explanation component of question 5:

  • subscription to online exam questions
  • First Aid ONLY; Used Kaplan Q-bank and Old Notes/Uptodate/Cecil's to learn new info
  • First Aid and Q Bank, Microbiology made ridiculously simple was useful

Explanation component of question 6:

Question: If too much, what specific areas are over-emphasized? If inadequate, what specific areas are missing?

  • There was a lot of specific information on infectious disease and pharmacology that we did not cover at U of T
  • Class exams do not resemble USMLE Step I questions at all
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  • Not bad but different focus; found particularly weak in micro
  • Biochem, Pharmicology, and Microbiology are emphasized on the exam more than in our curriculum. At U of T we learn more clinical medicine, thus the clinical half of the exam is easy to study for. (except MSK/derm which was difficult)

Explanation component of question 7:

Question: If yes, do you feel it’s a major drawback in your exam preparation? (4 no, 1 yes)


Explanation component of question 9:

Question:Please specify any online forums or other resources you used

  • Kaplan's website
  • kaplan
  • ask 3rd/4th years directly who wrote the exam
  • Just Keto Diet

Any additional advice or tips on how to best prepare for the exam?

I took 4 weeks to prepare, probably adequate. You have the ability to push back your exam date by contacting the USMLE which is very tempting as the date nears and you feel under-prepared. Resist this! Write it, you will pass somehow - the exam itself is a long day sitting in front of a cpu. By late morning/early afternoon you feel spent and diet pills the questions keep coming and feel harder. Push through and take your best stab at each question (eliminate unlikely answer possibilities, etc.). This sounds like elementary test-taking strategy but many colleagues who wrote along with me had a hard time with this and struggled to even muster a guess at some questions.

Other Comments: DOCH3 is a great time to write USMLE1, but I missed a LOT of DOCH3 lectures and missed out on hanging out with classmates when everyone was squeezing in the last bit of fun before clerkship. Strongly suggest students who are serious about potential residency applications to competitive programs (DERM, ENT, UROLOGY, or surgery at big name places like hopkins) go hard and try to score 240 or above (probably need to study 1 month AT LEAST). I found that my prep for histo, esp haem was weak; never studied and relied on UofT's experience.
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