Must Have USMLE STEP 1 Dedicated Studying Resources!

Now that we’ve covered general advice for STEP 1, let’s break down study resources. If you haven’t realized this by now, resource overload is real! In my first year, I remember attempting to juggle textbooks, videos, practice questions. To put it bluntly – it was a hot mess. Going into dedicated, resist the urge to reinvent the wheel by keeping in mind what techniques/resources worked best for you in the past.

With that said, it’s also important to recognize gaps in your learning and address those through resources and/or study techniques. For the rest of this blog, I’m sharing a comprehensive list of all the resources that worked for me!

Test Bank 

If you get anything from this post, PLEASE let it be that you should do practice questions every. Single. Day (with the exception of your days off of course). I’m a firm believer of doing all test blocks in testing conditions. This means 40 question blocks, timed, and in random order. If you do any untimed or subject specific blocks, these should not be the way that the majority of your practice questions are done. 

Of course, U-World is the holy grail for practice questions, but there are other strong options out there that you can test out to compare! I’ve personally used AMBOSS & TrueLearn, both of which are great resources. Remember that the most important thing isn’t necessarily the bank that you use, but how you go about reviewing questions. 

Rote Memory Tool 

Anki is a pretty polarizing tool – you either love it or hate it. My feelings towards it are mixed, but I do think flashcards and spaced repetition play an important role in memory retention. Personally, I used Anki pretty regularly throughout medical school, but I wasn’t super concerned about keeping my streaks up or doing it every day. During dedicated, I kept track of my incorrects by creating cards specific to my knowledge gaps. 

The fact of the matter is that STEP 1 is strongly memorization based. Who the heck is going to remember what chromosome the HFE gene is located on and thus disrupted in hemochromatosis? Most likely the person that’s done a flash card with the answer a good number of times, instead of seeing it once and hoping that it’ll stick. 

Honorable mention:

  • Good ol’ fashioned pen and paper – keep a log in a notebook and review it daily. I did this more so for STEP 2 CK, since STEP 1 had way too much information to write and review every day.

Visual Aids 

I should preface this next section with the fact that I am a strongly visual person. Studying through cartoons saved my life so many times during medical school, so dedicated was no different. For subjects where you either know it or don’t (i.e. microbiology, pharmacology and biochemistry), it is important to find a way to work smart and not necessarily hard. These topics are incredibly dense with a lot of information to consume, but if you have a strong plan you’ll be able to conquer these sections.

Using resources like Picmonic, took away the stress of learning these details and saved me so much study valuable time. Sitting down to watch 30 minutes of cartoons was the highlight of my study day, breaking up the monotony of Anki cards and practice questions. One of my weakest areas starting off was biochemistry. No matter how many times I read the First Aid chapter or did random flashcards, the information refused to stick. After a classmate recommended Picmonic, I started to watch 1-2 biochemistry videos a day. Following each video, I did the respective practice questions utilizing the “quiz” feature on their platform. Slowly but surely, my scores on practice exams increased. By the end of dedicated, I actually looked forward to getting biochemistry questions because they became free/easy points!

Honorable Mentions 

These are resources that there is plenty of information on and I’ve discussed previously. 

  • First Aid – comprehensive outline for all the topics you need to know for the exam 
  • Boards and Beyond – comprehensive video resources
  • Pathoma – must have for Pathology

That’s all for this post! If you’re interested in trying out Picmonic (which I highly recommend), you can receive 20% off by signing up here. Also, if you would like to try out TrueLearn use my code thefrodoc to receive $25 off for subscriptions 90 days or more. 

What resources mentioned here do you love? What are some that I didn’t talk about that you recommend?

This blog post includes affiliate links.

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