My Background: not so good. i was never serious about my studies in medical school. If you had read my step 1 experience you would know.
Materials i used: 1.kaplan notes ob/gyn, surgery, medicine. 2.MTB 2 and MTB 3 . 3.Step 2 Uworld 4.Step 3 uworld. 5.CMS all forms. 6.NBME all forms. 7.MKSAP 16. 8.Kaplan qbank only obgyn, surgery, peds and some medicine. 9.Goljan few chapters like female repro system, male repro system 10.Step 1 uworld for genetics, ethics, psych and some pathophysio portion 11.Uptodate 12. Miscellaneous : cardiology questions on learntheheart.com , blausfuss, Medscape, google for images, BRS biostat, harrison’s self assessment book.
Duration: 10 months
so with very weak background knowledge of CK subjects, i had to work really hard to build the basics , mug up the crazy criterias, and comprehend the mind boggling concepts.
Like any RPG, You got to have 3 things when you are preparing for steps
1-strength- how hard can you hit, how good you are at the studies, how hard you are willing to work for it !!!
defense- how vulnerable you are? are you able to face the upcoming hurdles, the personal problems, the failures and the frustration of not being able to reach that target mark ?
agility- how quickly can you do things eg. reading the books, memorizing the stuff, solving the questions in time !
I took step 1 in october 2014. i started studying for ck from december 2014.
At the start, my stats were:
Strength: 9/10 because i got good score on step 1 i was quite motivated and had confidence that may be i can do it again in step 2.
Defense: 4/10 - i get affected by things quickly, i can’t study when there are any distractions, i can’t concentrate when i am having even minor blips and hitches in my life.
Agility: 4/10 - i am a slow reader, i take time to understand things. i easily forget many things easily.
Now i knew my weaknesses and i had to work on these as well. but first i decided to quickly go through all the books to see what suits me. this is important. Dont blindly follow anyone. for eg. as much as it is popular for ck , i hated MTB. i could not understand why people read it. but everyone has a different taste and that is what you have to figure out for yourself.
3 months Dec to feb : i finished kaplan gyn/obs, surgery, medicine, MTB 2 ck, and jumped on to uworld. 3 months!!! quite a lot time right? well as i said i am a slow reader. I was very confused at this moment because i could not find the stuff in uworld like criteria and algorithms written in any books. So i decided to make my own notes as i realized that there is no bible for ck like we have FA for step 1. I printed out all the algorithms and charts of uworld. I extracted explanations from uworld and i printed out that as well.
TIP : U DONT HAVE TO DO IT NOW ANYMORE because i came across dr ali’s notes at the end of my preparation i didnt study them as i had made my own notes but his notes seemed really good. So save your time or make your own notes upto u. When i started my prep the only notes available were tiki taka notes which i didn’t find useful so i had to make my own notes.
I studied my notes. and i took my first nbme 4 and i got 254. I thought because i got a good score in nbme i should quickly get done with ck and do CS so i can apply for that year’s match. but my visa was rejected and as i said my defense being 4/10 i sulked into silence, and i quit my studies. i had to make a plan B and i started residency at my home country. i didnt study anything from april 2015 till august/september.
POINT TO LEARN: stay focused. make a proper plan. do not jump to cs exam in the middle of step1 or step 2 ck. do it before step 1 or after step 1 or after step 2 ck.
3 months october till December: I was doing pg residency training at my home country so i could not focus properly on my studies. I knew that i had wasted 1 year so i got to get exceptional score if i am to have any chance of being matched(which still seems vague to me). I finished UW CK, uptodate(online), step 3 UW, and MKSAP 16 during this time and i kept writing anything i found interesting on my notes(those printed uw tables n charts).
Stats at this point: Strength= 7/10 i was tired, felt less confident. Defense= 4/10 i was too anxious that if i messed up on this everything will be ruined. you can not afford to get lower score on CK than step 1 score, you have to improve. Agility: 4/10 i had not worked on time management yet.
I came to know about CMS 12 forms and before i had even started those i came to know about another newly launched 12 forms of cms and I felt like i had wasted so much of my time on making notes and going for the extra stuff that is not even made for ck. I was overloaded with so much information and so many sources to study. and first read is never enough for me. It’s like a quick scan , i don’t remember much when i read anything for the first time (not like those genius masterminds with photographic memory) so doing step 3 uw and mksap 16 once felt like a time waste as i didn’t remember anything . I had 2 options either to revise all this again or to go for ck UW and keep assessing myself with CMS forms.
TIP: Do cms forms from the beginning of your preparation. there are 24 forms with 50 questions each. so 1200 questions. takes a lot of time to learn all of it.
TIP # 2 : If your exam is near and u haven’t done cms yet, dont be worried. find time to do cms of only those subjects that are your weak areas and skip others.
2 months jan and march 2016: i dind’t study in month of Feb.
i chose to do ck uworld and cms forms and some portion of step 3 uw. i took nbme 3 i didn’t calculate score as i was doing offline and offline score calculation is never reliable but i consider anything close to 90% as good.
Stats at this time = Strength:9/10, defense 9/10 and agility 8/10 (the key factor in my performance) .
now because i had done almost everything i knew nothing more could be done and i had to take exam. i could not go on anymore. but i missed the date in april and i took my exam date in may.
1.5 months from april till 10th may: i did ck uworld, step 3 uworld, some cms forms revised, uwsa, and nbme 6 and 7 .
Uworld step 2 ck : 1st pass 76%, 2nd pass 86%, 3rd pass 98%, 4th pass that was in april i didnt calculate.
MY ASSESSMENTS: fred step 3 : 85% fred step 2 : 92% nbme 4 : 254 long time back nbme 7 : 85% nbme 6 : 92% nbme 3 : 87% CMS: on average 5 to 8 questions wrong in each form UWSA: i did it offline 14 mistakes REAL DEAL : 271 !
Exam Day: I studied till the very last minute before leaving for prometric center. exam was unfortunately not similar to uworld. i was quite disappointed. i had done all i could, i studied the things that aren’t even made for ck but a major portion of exam like 60% of it was the stuff that i didnt study before. some of it was new topics and some of it was very conceptual where you had to apply concepts (step 1 and doing different questions helped a lot with this because this forces your mind to think). I had no time issues, i marked about 10 to 15 questions in each block and i had about 8 to 10 minutes left to review them.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO? If you are done with step 1 then jump to uworld and stepup to medicine book. if step 2 ck is your first exam then i think you should read goljan book or FA step 1 ( yes step 1 stuff, just skip the mechanisms of drugs, pathology basics and immunology basics)
MEDICINE: major portion of exam. no matter how much you study it, its never enough(at least that was the case in my exam). Stepup to medicine is a good book. i didn’t study it but i went through it for some topics. i liked it but didn’t have time to do it. MTB is not good, DON’T DO IT.
Surgery: uworld is disappointing. there are so many things missing like management of different cancers, complications of different surgeries, postop pain management etc. i had many questions on these topics.
Ob/Gyn: Kaplan book is good but i think uworld is enough. you can do kaplan to have some basic concepts if you aren’t done with step 1.
Pediatrics: Uworld is enough but i had some unheard of questions that i dont know where to prepare from.
Psychiatry: I was comfortable with this subject. but many people find it difficult so i think you should do it well from Uworld. Concepts will help you, Cramming the criteria of diseases will help you, and Pharmacology will help in this subject. On a lighter note, watch woody allen movies eg. Blue jasmine, i find a lot of psychiatry in these
Ethics: do all UWorlds.
Preventive medicine: Uworld is good.
Biostats: You have to do step 1 stuff for this as well as step 2 stuff. but unfortunately i didnt get any formula based question or any bias, p value, confidence interval etc. Mostly i got questions on data interpretation. Anyway you should know the concepts cold in this. This will boost your score.
QBANKS: the more you do , the better it will be. Doing new questions will train your mind to use logic and by that you can easily rule out 2 to 3 options in unheard of questions. Works like magic but requires practice. It feels like a sixth sense when you have practiced so many questions you spontaneously get the feeling that it cant be C , it cant be E
UWORLD CK: obviously
Uworld step 1: only for biostats, pyschiatry, and ethics. its always nice to work on these because they are very very conceptual.
Uworld step 3: for the same as above. also you can do your weak areas from this one, because its always smart thing to work on your weak areas, isn’t it?
CMS: i had nothing from CMS in exam but if you plan to do it , do it from the beginning of your preparation. personally i liked old forms more. if you are short on time and still want to do it, then just do CMS of subjects that you find yourself weak in.
Kaplan Qbank: i solved very old one that was of 2011 or 2012. many thing have changed now so i think you should go for latest one. I remember that when in real exam i had some unusual topics and unheard of questions, it reminded me of kaplan selfassesament i did some questions from it like 10 or 20 and many questions were totally out of uworld. so i would prefer Kaplan qbank over cms because qbank gives you explanation as well and personally CMS didn’t suit me i didn’t like its questions. don’t do both, it will waste your time.
NBMES: dont do nbme 1 and 2 . do all of others. do in the order of nbme 4 (easiest i found) then nbme 3, nbme 6 and finally nbme 7. and aim to get 90% if you doing offline or just do online if you got the monaaayyyyyyyyyy
TIPS: Every new question helps you if you try to understand the concept. Just cramming the correct answer for a question won’t help you. Know why its right and more importantly why other options are wrong.
Knowing ‘WHAT’ will make you pass, Knowing ‘WHY’ will help you ace the exam.
How to approach new WTF questions?? RULE OUT Method. keep ruling out options that you find unlikely to be right. u can easily cancel 2 or 3 options with this method.
If you have questions , please post in comments, I can’t reply everyone in inbox. many people have similar questions so it will help everyone and it will be easy for me also.
I also want to talk about something that i have noticed during these steps is that there is a lot of selfishness in this world. I understand that competition is tough but nothing is achieved from belittling others. Be nice to people who are endeavoring to get something and talk to them the same way you do when they become successful. Don’t be like Chameleon. It is easy to be a part of someone’s happiness but if you are sad in their sadness and support them in a difficult time you carve your name on their hearts and that is what you will be remembered by, so let’s be more understanding to each other and aim to be at a level where we are able to help more and more people. Because that is what being a doctor means.
Good Luck for exam.