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How a Cram Fighter User Scored a 255 on USMLE Step 1

We asked our most impressive users to share with you how they organized, selected, and scheduled their study materials to reach their USMLE Step 1 score goal. Here is what one UCSD medical student did to score a 255.

Was there a specific combination of resources that you found helpful?

I included First AidPathomaSketchyMedical, and UWorld in my Cram Fighter study plan. My plan spanned from January until April. I found this combination to be all that I needed to do well and the range of material helped cover all my bases.

How do you best incorporate question banks or flashcards into your study schedule?

I did questions and flashcards every day. I don’t find using textbooks to be the most effective learning method for me, so I made a point to go through all UWorld questions twice. I also began making my own Anki flashcard deck. I would add flashcards for questions I got wrong in UWorld. I would also add flashcards when I found something unfamiliar in my second pass through First Aid. Cram Fighter was great because it told me exactly how many questions or cards I needed to do every day in order to get through everything before my exam. It also helped me out because I would frequently make small adjustments to the order in which I wanted to do things, or how many cards I wanted to do in one day. Cram Fighter incorporated these changes and made the needed adjustments instantly.

How did you allocate your study time across multiple resources?

Initially, I spent more time with questions than I did with reading. I found myself not improving in some subjects, so closer to exam time, I made a dedicated effort to read First Aid more carefully and interactively. If I came across something that I did not totally understand, I would look it up on Wikipedia or UpToDate, or watch YouTube videos from patients with the diseases. I also initially wanted to get through First Aid three times, so I used Cram Fighter to make three study blocks. About two thirds of the way through my second time through First Aid, I decided it wasn’t the most efficient use of my time. I was reading the material too quickly and it wasn’t sticking. I decided to scrap the rest of my second study block and just make a longer, slower-paced third block. Cram Fighter let me reschedule everything in one morning, so I never wasted time worrying about how to fit everything in.> Cram Fighter let me reschedule everything in one morning, so I never wasted time worrying about how to fit everything in.

What resource did you start with when you began your studies?

In the fall of my MS2 curriculum, I used Pathoma. I would listen to all the lectures associated with each organ system. I also began reviewing the First Aid chapter associated with the organ system we were doing in class. In January, I created my Cram Fighter study plan, and I began to do UWorld questions and read through First Aid in a more systematic fashion.

To learn how to use study blocks and rebalancing in your study plan, check out our help articles: Using study blocks and Rebalancing your schedule.
About the Author

Erica Forrette is the former Director of Marketing at Cram Fighter.