High Yield Fast Facts for the USMLE

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Everyone knows the usefulness of keeping a large amount of high yield information in your head just before the actual examination. This can help a lot in boosting your score up in the last few days before the actual examination. Although I am never an advocate for last minute cramming for an examination like the USMLE, the benefits of having a large number of high yield facts in your immediate memory is something no one can ignore. The reason is that unless the information is in your immediate memory, chances are it will take some time for you to recall that information and in the context of timed examination like the USMLE, that can make or break you.

Most reviewers acknowledge these facts. First Aid for Step 1 has its Rapid Review section. Levinson and Jawetz has its “Brief summaries of Medically Important Organisms. and Trevor and Katzung’s Pharmacology Review has it’s “Key Words for Key Drugs”. All to be reviewed just a few days before going into the examination.

Remember, these are not substitute for intensive focused review of the materials. They are intended to help you keep very high yield stuff in immediate memory to help you score higher just before the exam day itself. Otherwise each of the above reviewers would not have bothered with other parts of their books, right? 😉

Although, they’ve provided these tables and list, question still remains how to efficiently memorize this list and put them in your head. Some would read through them repeatedly. Some would use their hands to cover one side and try to remember what’s on the other side. The more industrious ones will write flashcards with them. The group review people will take turns with one person reciting out loud one side, while the rest try to recall what’s written on the other side.

Actually the best way to memorize and practice recall of large amounts of unrelated information is through the use of flashcards. It associates certain words with certain concepts or so-called “word-associations”. The problem with most available flashcards is that they try to put as many concepts in one card as possible, thus making it hard for word-associations to work. For example when studying microbes using flashcards, each microbe card should only contain one fact, using multiple cards to store multiple facts. For example, microbe-drug of choice, microbe-disease, microbe-pathogenetic mechanism combinations rather than microbe – disease, drug of choice, pathogenetic mechanisms in one card, which although more efficient way to produce flashcards, is a less efficient way to memorize through word-associations.

Now, one of the most effective ways of using flashcards to learn large amounts of unrelated infomration is the Leitner system. You can google it or click on this link to wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashcard to read up on it.

Flashcards are sorted into 2 to 4 groups. For example, in a 3 group stack, the first group is the hard group, the second the medium group and the third the easy group. Everytime you guess a card right it is sent to the easier group. If you get it wrong you send it to back to the harder group. You should spend more time in the harder group as you know them less. The result is more efficient method of studying taking less time with better results.

You can of course start making flashcards with the Rapid Review section of First Aid and the other books mentioned above and divide them into groups. Or you could take the easy way and enroll in the High Yield Fast Facts Course in my prep site  It’s free for 14 days for anyone enrolling by October 19, 2008 PT and only US$ 4.99 for 14 days after that.

It currently contains the equivalent of Rapid Review section of First Aid with over 100 additional high yield items (550 total). It also contains a 150 item Diseases and Syndrome section that lists all  diseases and syndromes and their description. The 400 item Buzzwords section, contain descriptions of buzzwords. As you may already realize, the USMLE Step 1 do not use Buzzwords. Instead it uses actual description of for example Reed-Sternberg cells. Therefore, even if you know the buzzwords, you may not know the description. An additional 250 items will be added to the buzzword section in the next couple of days.

Still under construction is the bugs and drugs section which will cover, microbes and drug of choice as well as other concepts in microbiology. Additional sections in pharmacology covering, mechanisms, side effects, etc. will also be included in the near future. A section on medical images will also be set up. So flash cards with say an ECG tracing, an xray or a skin lesion will be listed and you should try to identify the image. This usually uses a 4 group system rather than the 3 group system used in the course.

My main difficulty with medical images is that it takes so long to find them. There are a lot of medical images available in the net, but most of them are copyrighted. About only 1 in 10 is available as public domain, creative commons or GNU license that allows free use of the image with attribution. Therefore, it will actually take a long time for me to finish this unless I get help.

Therefore, I would like to ask my readers to help search for images. Help me help you do better in the USMLE. Every 2 medical images you provide me with that I use for the prepsite, I will give you 1 point. Each point can be exchanged for 2 weeks free access to the High Yield Fast Facts course.
( in the future to other courses) You must provide a link to an image that is not copyrighted, or if copyrighted that you have arranged with the copyright author for free use in the course. Credit is given for the first person to submit the image, and submitting an image previously submitted by others will not be counted.

You can post the image links or any submission in the comments section of this post. And the date and time of submission will act as the basis for deciding first submissions for credit. This will be the basis for all future courses I am offering including the 6 month moderated prep course. You earn credits by contributing time, materials or money and you use credits to avail of services, including acceptance to the prep courses, one-on-one chat sessions, one-on-one tutoring which I will be offering in the near future. I think if you want to take, you should also give. If you want people to help you, you should also try to help others. That is the only way to make things equitable. You either pay it forward or pay it afterwards.

 

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15 thoughts on “High Yield Fast Facts for the USMLE

  • October 15, 2008 at 8:59 am
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    Askdoc, everytime I try to post a link to the pictures I found, it says my comment is too spammy or some other message. so i am only posting one link to one picture. the general website i found with uncopywrighted photos is wwww.everystockphoto.com so check that out. here is one photo.

    http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=1593775

    Jazzy

  • October 15, 2008 at 9:03 am
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    of course the one photo that i could add does not say public domain. i am trying again. i hope the website lets me add the links.

    http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=1669698
    http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=1671240

    these should do. you can check out the website to see for yourself. these last two links i added said “public domain” in the license section, so i assume that means they are not copywrited? hope i could be of some help. your site has been great.

    Jazzy

  • October 15, 2008 at 10:40 am
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    HI Jazzy,

    Thanks for the links. They are great. They’re from wikimedia commons, most pictures of which are either public domain, Creative Commons or GNU licensed. I’ll check the exact licenses later. Anyway, the reason for using the comment section here is so that I can keep track of submission and date and time of submissions.

    Actually you can’t do too many links because one characteristic of spam comments are too many links. So your comment may be identified as spam if you do too many links. I cannot take down my spam blocker as I already have close to 800 spam comments in only 4 months. So people will just have to bear with me on this. I apologize for the inconvenience.

    Again thanks really appreciate it.

    Just keep on submitting and I will keep track of your points.

    Askdoc

  • October 15, 2008 at 12:13 pm
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    Askdoc, i feel like i will be adding more unnecessary work for you if i keep posting just random images… do you have specific images or topics that you need help searching for? just so that i can narrow my search to find the best images. if you don’t have a list, i’ll just post what i find.

    Jazzy

  • October 16, 2008 at 7:56 am
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    i didn’t see any flashcards here

  • October 16, 2008 at 12:46 pm
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    Hi jazzy,

    No problem, just continue posting what you find. I really appreciate it. I have posted the first six image flashcard in the High Yield Fast Facts course under High Yield Images. Each set will eventualy contain fifty images. I’ll add them regularly as fast as I can. Take a look at it and give your comments.

    Hi dikchya,

    The flashcard sets are under the High Yield Fast Facts course in my prep site at http://prep.askdoc-usmle.com. You need to go to the site register then enroll in the course. It is not located in my blog.

    Askdoc

  • October 17, 2008 at 9:39 am
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    I’ve just finished the first 30 High Yield image set. Will try to have 120 images by end of the month and 300 high yield images by end of November. I would also like to remind everyone that free enrollment for 14 days ends on Sunday October 19,2008. After that you need to earn points by contributing time and effort like Jazzy or cash.

    Jazzy, I am crediting you with two points. You can exchange each point for 14 days access to HYFF or for 14 days access to my next course which is a full review of clinical vignettes. It will be composed of three parts. Flashcards containing signs and symptoms and you identify the disease. A straightforward clinical vignette section that presents cases with classical findings in MCQ format. An atypical clinical vignette section that makes diagnosis tougher but will train you for the tougher Step 1 and Step 2 CK vignettes.

  • October 19, 2008 at 1:09 pm
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    askdoc, it looks great. a few pictures weren;t working but i am not sure if that was due to my connection so i will try again. i’m compiling a little collection so i can send you more pictures sometime this week. and thanks for the points how do i redeem them? the vignette course sounds good. also i have a friend who was trying to sign up for the hyff but she was having problems, it was saying she couldnt enroll. is the site having problems?

  • October 19, 2008 at 2:37 pm
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    Hi Jazzy,

    First, the reason not all pictures are coming out is that the 30 images has a big total file size. Wait until all the files have been downloaded, see the progress bar before starting the set. Otherwise, some of the images are not downloaded. If your connection is slow, your browser may also stop downloading the rest of the images. You notice that happening too with ordinary web pages. The solution is to refresh the screen by pressing Ctrl+5. Then wait for screen to reload. That is why I have reduced the number of images per set to 30 rather than 50. If too many people have this problem, I may have to reduce to 20 rather than 30 image per set.

    Now for the enrollment, I had set the enrollment to end October 19, 2008. I think the program may have ended it at the start of October 19 rather than at the end as I expected. I have extended the enrollment period to end October 22, which means people can still enroll up to October 21. After this date, people can enroll by donating US$2 for 14 days enrollment. The reason is so that people either contribute sweat equity or cash equity to keep this site expanding. Submission of pics will only be until end of November, as I expect to have hundreds of pics by that time already. After that I would have to think up of other methods for people to contribute sweat equity. 🙂

    As of the moment, I already have over 100 pics collected. I am just resizing them and organizing them into sets. So expect more to go online next few weeks.

  • November 6, 2008 at 1:27 pm
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    Hi

    I like the concept of flash cards. However I think you are missing an opportunity for expanding your service by limiting yourself to a website.

    I work for a publishing house and have some suggestions that may be mutually beneficial. Email if you are interested and I will do my best to get your services to a wider audience. I think you will find it a rewarding experience. I did try emailing but got no reply hence the post.

  • July 31, 2010 at 12:15 pm
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    Are you still giving points for uncopyrighted/GNU/creative commons pictures?

  • August 2, 2010 at 4:09 pm
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    Hi jonyc,

    Sorry, no.

    Askdoc

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