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Getting the Most out of Your USMLE Step 1 Video Lectures

Medical students speak up about how they got an edge on Step 1 using video lectures.

Many students find video lectures to be valuable additions to their study plan. Incorporating video lectures into your study plan may require some different scheduling considerations than your book resources. Here are three key questions on selecting videos and using them effectively in your study plan.

Which lectures should I choose?

To see the most frequently selected video resources among Cram Fighter users, check out our statistics page on the most popular lectures for the USMLE Step 1. Pathoma is the most commonly used lecture series, with over a quarter of Cram Fighter users preparing for Step 1 incorporating it into their study plans. Many of our users like to pair Pathoma with First Aid. Michael Douglas, a Cram Fighter user and student at Loma Linda School of Medicine, told us that he pairs these two resources because “using Pathoma will really fill in some holes that First Aid leaves.”

Tufts University medical student Matthew Levitsky adds that he has also had success combining Pathoma with First Aid. When we asked him how he chose his resources, Matthew said, “The base of my study resources was the popular mnemonic UFAP (UWorld, First Aid, Pathoma). I used these resources because, from what I heard from older medical students, these were the most efficient resources with regards to exposing students to high yield information.”

In addition, over 10% of Cram Fighter users included SketchyMedical in their 2015 study schedules. As Matthew emphasized,“one extremely valuable resource that I used was SketchyMicro, a video series that creates bizarre ways to remember high yield bugs.”

Matthew Levitsky The base of my study resources was the popular mnemonic UFAP (UWorld, First Aid, Pathoma).

Matthew Levitsky, Tufts School of Medicine

How much time should I devote to lectures?

The ability to pause and rewatch parts of the video right away is one of the chief reasons students enjoy studying from lectures. Sahil Mehta, founder of MedSchoolCoach and radiology fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, shared his experience of studying from lectures with us. “I tend to be a visual learner, so I watched a lot of videos,” Sahil says. “It was important to me not to sit in a giant classroom or prep class, but to use videos instead, so I could stop and pause and rewatch as many times as needed. This allowed me to focus in on the aspects that I was really weak in.”

Cram Fighter tip: If you like to rewatch parts of your videos to get the most out of your lectures, make sure you allot enough hours of study time to account for the added time you will spend. Watching a 60 minute lecture may take more than one hour to complete. Alternatively, you may choose to make your way through a lecture series at a faster pace, much like skimming a textbook. For example, Pitt med student Thomas Mike chose to watch Pathoma lectures at 1.7x speed and then review Pathoma’s textbook afterward.

On average, Cram Fighter users schedule 1 hour 40 minutes for each hour of lecture. That 40 additional minutes helps account for pausing, stopping, and re-watching during study time you have devoted to videos.
Cram Fighter Stats Team

What is the best way to distribute lectures throughout your study plan?

Cram Fighter users schedule 18 hours of lecture per week on average. If you consider yourself a visual and auditory learner, you may enjoy studying from videos more than studying from a textbook. Be careful! Don’t be tempted to watch all of your videos up front. As high-scoring medical student Katie Williams recalls, “If left to my own devices, I might have watched all of the videos, which were easier for me to focus on, in the beginning of my study period. Then, I would have had to slog through the reading and questions at the end when I was already burnt out with studying in general. Cram Fighter was kind of like my mom telling me to do my homework (the First Aid reading) right after school because she knows I really won’t want to do it later.”

Katie Williams Cram Fighter was kind of like my mom telling me to do my homework (the First Aid reading) right after school because she knows I really won’t want to do it later.

Katie Williams, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Step 1 Score: 260

In order to get the most out of your lectures, make sure you choose a series that serves as a good supplement to your other resources. In addition, be sure to allot the right amount of time for your lectures, depending on your intended pace. When designing your study plan, you can check out Cram Fighter’s supported Step 1 lectures to help you select your resources.

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