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How to Study for the USMLE Step 1: Med Student Interviews, Part 1

  • by Erica Forrette
  • Nov 14, 2019
  • Reviewed by: Amy Rontal

We asked Cram Fighter customers who took their Step 1 or COMLEX Level 1, to share their board exam study tips.

To help our customers apply successful study strategies to studying for the USMLE Step 1, we interviewed some Cram Fighter customers who already took their board exams and got their scores back. The first person we spoke with was Anthony W., a med student from the class of 2021 at NYITCOM. He achieved a 242 on the USMLE Step 1 and a 626 on the COMLEX Level 1. Below, you’ll find some of his personal board exam study tips and recommendations.

What resources did you use for Step 1 and Level 1 and how effective were they?

Resources were Pathoma, Boards and Beyond, SketchyMicro and Pharm Anki cards, and UWorld questions. All were very effective and vital to my success.

SketchyMicro and Pharm Anki cards gave the perfect overview of what is needed for the test and helped me to retain most of the information long term. Pathoma and Boards and Beyond are the gold standard for the info that’s going to be on the test. They explain everything beautifully and make things as simple as they can. UWorld questions are the best representation of the exam questions and give in-depth reviews for each question. UWorld Self-Assessment 2 felt exactly like my real exam, and my USMLE score was within 3 points of the self-assessment.

What went well during your preparation?

Using Cram Fighter was my best choice for preparation (and I’m not getting paid to say that). It helped take the stress away from having to schedule what exactly I had to do everyday to finish all the material I wanted to review. The program was simple and allowed me to make modifications to best optimize how I wanted to review everything over time.

For instance, I was able to select which topics I wanted to review from specific resources and the order of which I wanted to review each organ system over time. It made my life a whole lot easier. The best part was, if I took a much needed day off from studying, Cram Fighter simply rescheduled everything for me so I didn’t fall behind.

What would you have done differently?

I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I’m happy with all the material I covered and how I did it.

The best part was, if I took a much needed day off from studying, Cram Fighter simply rescheduled everything for me so I didn’t fall behind.

Anthony W., NYITCOM, Class of 2022

What advice do you have for students taking these exams who also want to reach their goals?

My advice would be: don’t start studying for the exam 1 or 2 years in advance. You are putting too much stress on yourself. Just focus on class work and doing well in school. 6 months before your test date is enough time to start covering everything you need. I know people who started studying a year before they took their exam and their result wasn’t different from mine.

Also, you can’t be lazy. Make sure you at least cover all of the material at least once and finish the entire UWorld qbank. 6 months is plenty of time to do that and a lot more.

Finally, don’t listen to your classmates and how much they’re studying or how well they are doing on their qbank. Don’t believe it if it sounds too good to be true. Good luck!

Thanks, Anthony for sharing your insights and board exam study tips! Keep an eye out for our next med student interview, coming soon.

For more information on how Cram Fighter helped Anthony “reschedule” his study plan, read about our Rebalance feature here. If you’re ready to try Cram Fighter yourself, sign up for a free 7-day trial. Or download one of our free 6-month sample USMLE Step 1 study schedules.

About the Author

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