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Why You Should Start Studying for the USMLE Step 1 Early

Find out how using USMLE resources and Cram Fighter during second year can help you score a 258 on Step 1.

“At the beginning of my second year, I started asking myself how to optimize my Step 1 preparation while in classes. I really didn’t want to cram study for Step 1,” said a student at University of Texas, HSC San Antonio. By combining Step 1 resources and Cram Fighter during his second year of medical school, this student scored a 258 on Step 1. Below, we explain how he killed two birds with one stone.

“During my first year,” he said, “whenever I studied for an exam, I focused on the concepts I was taught in a given module. I would review lectures, powerpoints, and study sheets from previous years.” This student told us that his school’s lectures tried to follow the content covered in First Aid to help prepare students for Step 1. “I decided to change the way I studied for my module exams,” he said. “I still focused on the lectures, but I also started reading First Aid, doing qbanks, and studying from resources that went beyond the scope of First Aid.”

“Additionally, I started using Cram Fighter midway through my first semester of second year,” he said. “I wanted to start studying right away and not worry about maintaining my own schedule. That would have been difficult and time consuming. I let Cram Fighter handle that.”

I actually ended up doing better on my module by using Step 1 resources than I was even doing before.

This student told us he saw two major advantages when he started studying for Step 1 early.

1. Experimenting with Step 1 resources

In order to know which resources you will want to use during your dedicated Step 1 study period, you have to try them out. “I slowly started dabbling in Step 1 resources. During that time I was actually able to pinpoint which ones I felt were most valuable for me. I did a free trial of Firecracker. I started using Picmonic. I found out that I really liked using Picmonic when I studied microbiology. To this day, Picmonic’s cartoons still pop into my head when I’m studying something else.”

2. Scoring higher on class exams

“Honestly, I actually ended up doing better on my module by using Step 1 resources than I was even doing before,” he said. “Surprisingly, this method helped for my module-specific studying, and when it came to start studying for Step 1, I was more prepared than I had imagined.”

About the Author

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