Is Kaplan enough for Step 1 Review?

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This is the question often asked by newbies in various USMLE forums. The usual answer is either a yes or no, but the honest answer is another question. Enough for what?

For acing the exam? Probably not.

For getting above average scores? Maybe depending on whether you are a fresh grad or not.

For passing? Probably yes.

It also depends on what you plan to do with Kaplan Notes. If you plan to read it once, probably you’ll fail.

If you plan to read it 3 to 5 times, you’ll probably do well. But do you have the time? And probably not if that’s the only thing you do without doing Qbanks.

If you plan to read once, take outline notes, master your outline notes while occasionally referring to Kaplan Notes to clarify concepts and practicing Qbanks, then you’ll probably do well.

Another factor to consider is the study methodology your most comfortable with. If it’s visual and reading then yes it’s good. But if you are primarily audio and visual, then lectures might be more helpful.

Different people are just that different, and one size fit all answers do not really apply. That’s why it’s so hard to give proper advise to people you do not know well. This applies even more so in forums where people rarely really know each other well. I prefer to present as many study methods as possible, each with its pros and cons. So people can decide for themselves what fits their style, and pick or choose what works for them.

Although Kaplan notes is relatively comprehensive, it does not cover enough information for somebody who has forgotten a significant amount of basic science knowledge to ace the examination. (This applies to most medical graduates) The reason for this is that although Kaplan notes is primarily study notes, it tries to serve as its own outline notes and omits a lot of important information because it is too big to read more than once. The best solution is actually to split the notes into 2, a smaller outline note, probably 400 pages long and a much larger study notes around 1500 pages long to be read only once and referred to often as one concentrates on going through the much smaller outline notes for mastery.

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