Monday, June 23, 2008

stress... less? USMLE studying FINISHED!

I killed a beast today. Her name was USMLE step 1. I am officially on summer break! but before I get all carried away in breakiness, I wanted to share my study schedule so that everyone can be awed by my work ethic. yeah that's pretty much the only reason I would ever write this down--to self promote. but it may also help people looking for a plan in the future so there's another good reason for this post.
Books I used:
First Aid for the USMLE; cut off the binding, got it 3-hole punched and put it in a binder. During my first run through I took notes from other books and added them to my First Aid in order to create a comprehensive source for the later studying.
Rapid Review of Pathology, Rapid Review Gross and Developmental Anatomy, HY Embryology, Neuroscience, and Human Behavior, BRS Physiology, Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple, Lippincott's illustrated Review of Biochemistry. I bought Katzung and Trevor Pharmacology but didn't use it because it was too much info.
I used USMLE World as my question bank. I thought it was good preparation for the actual exam, although the real test had more questions that were very hard or very easy. The format was identical to that of the real exam. I did all questions timed and unused. After each section I first went over incorrect answers and read the explanations for the correct and incorrect answers carefully, inserting any notable info into my FA mash-up book. After going over the incorrect answers I went over the correct answers to make sure that I didn't get any right by lucky guesses.

May 11: reviewed pictures and margin notes from Goljan RR Path.
May 12: path NBME in the morning, packed my apartment up to move in the PM
May 13: Reviewed Pharm from First Aid.
May 14: pharm NBME in the morning, listened to Goljan audio lectures while moving in the PM. May 15: Moved all day while listening to Goljan, organized study materials.
May 16: Comprehensive NBME in the morning, Mommy came in for the weekend and I did not study again until Monday.
May 19: Biochem: Read FA and transferred corresponding info from Lippincott's Biochem
May 20: Finished Biochem Read-through and transfer from Lippincott's.
May 21: Anatomy; RR in the morning, BRS Physiology. 100 questions from Qbank.
May 22: Anatomy; RR, BRS Phys (+ transfer of info to First Aid), 100 questions.
May 23: Microbiology; First Aid; referenced tables from MMRS to complete missing info from FA.
May 24 and 25: planned to study but my sister came in town for the weekend so I didn't get much done.
May 26: Finished Micro, read First Aid Immunology (supplemented by course materials),
May 27: Cardiovascular and respiratory; RR Path, BRS Physiology, 50 questions.
May 28: Renal; FA, RR Path, BRS Physiology, 75 questions.
May 29: GI; FA, RR Path, BRS Physiology, 100 questions.
May 30: Heme/Onc; FA, RR Path (nearly killed me because there are like five chapters on blood in that book!) 110 questions.
May 31: Endocrine and Reproductive; FA, RR Path, BRS Phys.
June 1: pretended to try and learn pharmacology but really watched five Alfred Hitchcock movies.
June 2: Musculoskeletal; FA, RR Path, BRS Phys. questions in the PM.
June 3: Nervous System; FA, HY Neuroanatomy, BRS Phys. Question in PM. HY Embryology when I wanted a break.
June 4: Nervous System; FA, HY Neuroanatomy, RR Pathology. Questions in PM.
June 5: Practice NBME (#3) in the morning with mediocre results. Flew to DC for my cousin's wedding in the PM; read FA psych on the plane.
June 6 & 7: Nothing. Bridal showers, Rehearsal dinner, Wedding, Race for the cure, shopping, no studying atall.
June 8: Behavioral Science on the plane ride home, practice questions in the PM.
June 9: FA; BS, Biochem, Embryology. Questions in the PM.
June 10: FA; Micro and Immuno. Questions in the PM.
June 11: Practice exam on Uworld in the AM-score encouraging but not perfect. FA; Pathology, Pharm, Cardiology.
June 12: FA Endo, GI, Heme/Onc. Questions in PM.
June 13: FA Musculoskeletal, Neurology, Psychology. Questions in PM.
June 14: FA Renal, Reproductive, Respiratory. Questions in PM.
June 15: practice questions.
June 16-19: tons of practice questions. Finished UWorld. Wrote info from explanations into FA if it seemed important.
June 20-22: re-read weak information and memorized tables from FA. These days were shorter and I spent the evenings watching movies or reading books so that I wouldn't be burnt out for the test. Also, I ate a PB&J every day for lunch in order to build a food routine. it's my favorite food.
June 23: took the test. I ate a 100ish calorie snack between each block, plus a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. I saved a Dr. Peppr for the break right before my last block as a special treat. I also brought a coozie that says "never sweat the petty things" on one side and "never pet the sweaty things" on the other. I chewed like nine pieces of gum.
I should get my score on July 16th I think. I will be posting re: my satisfaction but not with a number.
Throughout the process, I listened to Goljan audio files during my commute every day, and relaxed in the evening by running a few times a week, watching movies, reading silly books, and drinking one glass of wine or one beer with dinner every night. My daytime study breaks involved celebrity gossip websites and drudge report.
I could have taken it a few days earlier and been okay. I kind of wish I had. But now I'm free of this study monkey on my back, and maybe my hand can heal from this carpal tunnel syndrome (or something... my entire hand is spasming in neurological rebellion from studying so much) . Tonight my church friends had a wine and hors d' oeuvres party and it was lovely (I made caprese salads on a stick) and tomorrow I'm off to Austin to see my family one last time before I start Pediatrics on the 30th. I'm super excited and I'm still getting used to the idea of not having to panic when I'm not on task..l because I don't currently have a task to be on! it's great!

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