to preparing for step in basic sciences

Often I am asked and often I wonder myself how I would’ve prepared for NBME Comp and USMLE Step ahead of time in my last few semesters of basic sciences.

Going into my final semester (5C), I had a plan to split my time between studying for the semester and preparing for the NBME Comp. Unfortunately, some unforeseen circumstances (ahem, hurricane and GNV Excellence) disrupted my plans.

If I could go back, I would have tried to spend some time preparing for the NBME Comp and Step in addition to my basic sciences curriculum. In the end, all the information you study in basic sciences IS preparing you for these exams, but aside from the information you are currently studying, there is much more that has been in the back of your mind for several semesters that needs to be brought forward in order to be prepared.

First and foremost, it is most important to pass and do well in your final semester. That should be the main focus- I would not recommend sacrificing those last few modules, there is a lot of important pathology in them!

If you got this in the bag, these are my suggestions on how I wish I would’ve supplemented my studying to prepare for comp and step.

  1. Get familiar with your First Aid book: it takes time to get used to reading and using the First Aid book for your studies. After reading it a few times, I finally felt like I knew the book in and out. Part of my preparation for these exams including reading through First Aid multiple times. I wish I would have made a schedule and planned to read a couple pages everyday while I was in my final semester. You could approach it in different ways. Maybe read the chapter that corresponds to the module you are learning or read a chapter of something from a different semester to keep old info fresh.
  2. Do some questions: I would still save my UWorld questions for comp and step, but I wish I would have done a few RX questions everyday or every other day. Even if it was just 5-10 questions. I was so unfamiliar with questions and so inefficient when it came to reviewing them! It would have helped to be better at reading and answering MCQs and getting used to how to review them and annotate into first aid BEFORE it was time to get down to business.

Simple steps to prepare can really go a long way! Part of getting into the flow of Comp and Step studying is just figuring out what to do with all the resources available. Being familiar with First Aid and MCQs would have saved me a lot of time and stress when I was just starting out my dedicated study period.

Lastly, do not underestimate the benefit of planning your study schedule out ahead of time. If you are interested in the schedule Denzel and I used, check out the details here. Check out how I studied for semester 4C here. Good luck with your final semesters of basic sciences! Feel free to reach out anytime with questions.


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