1 Establish your baseline. Before you start studying, take a NBME exam to establish a baseline of how much you know right now. With this baseline, you’ll be able to gauge how much you are learning / improving in the following weeks.
2 Meet your holy grail. First aid for Step 1, this is your holy grail. Master the Boards and Step up to Medicine are also a great books (but not necessary), which can be used supplement with the Med quest videos.
3 Let’s get started! Round 1: Practice Questions USMLE World Q Bank. You need to do this at least two times, minimum. The first time around, do the questions by section, not mixed. For example, do all the Microbiology questions first, then move to Immunology, then Pharmacology etc. For each section that you complete, write notes from USMLE WORLD in a separate notebook for each section. For each question, make sure you go through the correct answer and the incorrect answers as well as the educational objective (if you have time, click on the link to the scientific study at the bottom of the question). These questions must be done timed so you have enough practice answering quickly. Once you have completed all the sections separately in USMLE world, review your notes for each section along with the same respective section in First Aid. For example, read all of your microbiology notes you wrote from USMLE world and then read the first aid section in microbiology.
4 Reality Check: Evaluate your progression Once you have reviewed all of your notes and completed USMLE World the first time, take another NBME exam.
5 Get ready for the Mix! Round 2: Practice Questions Start your second round of USMLE world, mixed and timed.
6 Keep monitoring your progress. After you begin your second round of USMLE World questions, you have to take a NBME exam every two weeks in order to objectively see your performance/improvements.
7 Not quite done yet! Round 3: More Questions & Assessments The USMLE World assessment should be done early on and NOT used as an assessment of how you will do on Step 1. The three-digit score you will receive will be inflated. You can do the assessments just for extra questions.
8 Final 2 weeks: NBME Exam Once you are ready to take the exam, take a NBME exam 1-2 weeks prior. When you take the exam, try to simulate the real thing. Meaning your breaks are timed, bathroom breaks are limited, and you snack between blocks.
9 Sleep Hygiene during the last few weeks. After finishing your last NBME, go over the break down and pay close attention to the topics you are weak in. Start by reviewing the weak topics and then the rest of your material. The night before the exam make sure you get plenty of rest. Sleep hygiene is very important during these few weeks, meaning make sure you do not study/text/browse/Netflix in bed. Also, avoid backlit devices 30 minutes prior to going to sleep throughout your weeks of studying.
10 Eat healthy and exercise EVERY single day. I cannot stress this enough. I’m sure you will hear this from multiple people, but it is very important. Studies have shown that a half-hour of cardiovascular exercise daily results in increased activity in the hippocampus. You’ll be able to think clearer and recall much more material. Make sure you get minimum of 8 hours of sleep during these weeks as well, as most memory consolidation occurs in the later hours of sleep.