Julian Kochanowicz – USMLE Step 1 Experience 253

USMLE Step 1 253

USMLE Step 1 253

Hey fellow STEP 1 takers,I’ve gotten inspired by many of these STEP 1 experience reports and they’ve guided mealong every step of the way during my prep. So first of all, thank you to everyone in thisgroup that shared their experience with this exam. It wouldn’t have been possible withoutyou.During prep, I was a 3rd-year student of a 6-year M.D. program at the Poznan University ofMedical Sciences.Study time: 10-12h every day for 9 months, except a 1-week semester break and another4-day break after my CBSE. I’ll consider the start of my preparation the time I startedpractice questions and using First Aid (FA).AssessmentsNBME 13 (15 weeks before exam): 36 mistakes = ​205CBSE (7 weeks before): ​238​ (85 on CBSE score report)UWSA1 (8 days before): ​262NBME 18 (6 days before): 25 mistakes = ​245-249


NBME 21 (5 days before): 27 mistakes = ​250UWSA2 (4 days before): ​245Free 120 (4 days before): 82%STEP 1 on the 13th of August: ​253ResourcesBehavioral Science, Biochem, Genetics, Immunology, Pharm, Physio: Kaplan lecturesBiostats: Randy Neil youtube videos, Uworld Biostats reviewAnatomy: Shelf notes Anki deckEthics: 100 cases by Conrad FischerMicro, Pharm: sketchyPatho: PathomaAll organ systems: BnBFirst AidAnkiQ Banks: Kaplan, USMLE-Rx, Uworld (UW)(9200 qs in total including the ones I’ve seen twice.)StrategyLet me start off by saying that I wouldn’t consider myself as particularly intelligent or asuper-fast learner, which is why I needed to inform myself about the most effective andproductive ways of using every second of my time to avoid wasting years to get ready for theexam. Before you start studying whatsoever I highly recommend you to research effectivestudy strategies. There are countless videos on this topic and many amazing YouTubers likeAli Abdaal and Med School Insiders by Kevin Jubbal, MD that teach about the advantages ofactive recall and how borderline useless it is to reread and review textbooks and videolectures. This is not taught in school or uni and is in my opinion absolutely essential to makethe most out of your time.Maximizing productivity was an ongoing process but I understood quickly that I will have toutilize the methods of active recall and try going through as many qs as possible to achievemy goals in the shortest time possible. I started off by solving 10-20 Kaplan qs a day andcarefully reading and understanding every sentence in the explanations. The rest of the day Iwould watch video lectures and study the material required to pass my uni courses. Alongwith this routine, I would write down important details in my FA. As my FA started to fill upwith notes, I found this habit to be quite ineffective because I would simply forget the things Ipreviously wrote down and trying to find a specific note would turn into a frustrating task.Instead, I started making Anki flashcards, whose intelligent spaced repetition would neverallow me to forget my notes again. Anki is amazing for learning stupid details that are purememorization and there is quite a lot of that in medicine. So put your fancy highlighters downand start typing! I never used premade decks. Simply because you can make flashcards thatare perfectly tailored to your needs that are not too complex or too concise. There is alearning curve associated with making your own cards but don’t give up, its worth it! I used ascreenshot program to copy whole tables and diagrams from FA and UW, which allows youto create cards within seconds. (These decks are now deleted and have never beendistributed so keep your lawyers on the leash.)


Even though it is important to memorize minute details, it’s even more important to learn theconcepts, which is best done by solving qs. For this reason, I never spend more than 2h aday on Anki. Over the months I tried to maximize time spent on qs and worked my way up todoing 40 qs and 6 weeks before the exam I’d do 80 qs a day. I finished Kaplan and startedUW with the intention of doing it twice. By the time I started my 2nd pass, I realized thatdoing the same qs twice is not very effective. When seeing some of the qs my second time Iwasn’t trying to get to the right answer through logical thinking but by trying to recall what Ithought the right answer was. I think if you study the concepts properly and complement thisprocess with Anki the first time around, there is no need for a 2nd pass. At this point, Ibought Rx for one month to keep myself exposed to new qs.2 weeks before my estimated exam date I took UWSA1 and was positively surprised by myscore and decided to book a date for the following week. Over the following days, I tooksome NBMEs and UWSA2 followed by free 120 back-to-back. I wouldn’t recommend to useNBMEs solely to learn the material because having to manually look up explanations is apain and not a good use of your time unless you finished all Q banks. Instead, use them toassess your grade and practice your stamina shortly before the exam date.Preparing for this exam was a huge effort and the sheer amount of information that you haveto learn will be daunting in the beginning but seeing the green progress bar on UW andcompeting with the person you were yesterday can turn into an enjoyable challenge. I gainedpriceless medical knowledge and learned a lot about myself and how far I can push myself.I’m more than happy to help you out if you have more questions about the prep andespecially things that I couldn’t fit into this summary including what add-ons and apps I usedfor Anki, staying physically and mentally healthy etc. Just shoot me a DM!“The people who get what they’re after are very often the ones who just stick around longenough” ​- Austin Kleon#eyesontheprice#stopwhiningkeepgrindingThanks for reading and good luck!Julian Kochanowicz

September 24, 2019
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