June Class – Accepting Applications for Askdoc’s USMLE Step 1 Prep Course

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*Note: Enrollment for September Classes have started. Please go to this link

I would like to announce that I’ll be accepting applications for the June Batch of Askdoc’s USMLE Step 1 Prep Course which will start on June 1, 2009 and end on November 30, 2009. This is the 4th batch of enrollees for this course and again due to experiences with the previous batches, changes are being implemented to the program for this batch.

As you may well be aware, the first batch started last September, 2008. No fees were collected, however, the applicants were required to have failed Step 1 at least once. Tong, the first to take the exam from that batch has passed with a score of 97/232. The second, Marlene just passed with an 88/213. Most of you may know Marlene. She was the one who was ardently negotiating a position in the prep course on this blog last July to August when I first announced the course. Well she finally made it. You can read more about their exam experience here.

The February batch is mostly on schedule to take their exams in June and July, except for two who have requested to be move the June batch and one who is MIA. So a total of 4 will be taking their exams soon.

Most of the April batch is currently way behind schedule. Which is the main reason that the June batch will be affected. As you may well know, I limit class sizes. The main reason is to maintain the quality of the prep as too many students means that I cannot look after everyone. So despite the fact that a total of 21 people applied for the April batch, I accepted only the first 10. That is also the reason why you have to keep to schedule when you join the prep course. Because any delay means that I will have to limit even more the number of students I accept in the next class which in this case is the June batch.

Because of this, I will only guarantee to accept five students for the June batch. If in the next 2 weeks, somehow the April batch will speed up, I may accept 2 or 3 more into the batch for a maximum of 8. This is due to the 2 students who transferred from the February batch. Of course new rules will be imposed to prevent this situation from happening again and rules will be tightened on the April batch to make sure they speed up and do not affect the August batch due to unnecessary delays.

In order to make people understand better why we have rules, I believe I have to describe the course in more detail including expectations and the amount of work needed so there is no misunderstanding.

1. The course covers USMLE Step 1 which is seven subjects all in all. The course is 6 months long. Therefore telling me that you do not have enough time to finish 1 subject in 4 to 6 weeks means you won’t have time to finish the course period. Therefore please be ready to invest the time needed to do the course. Nothing less than 4 to 6 hours a day at least 5 to 6 days a week is needed. If you are unable to commit this time, then this course will not help you.

2. The reason you would want in on this course is that it will teach you how to prep for the USMLE in the proper way. Therefore you must be prepared to follow instructions. You would be surprised at how many people insists on following their own methods of studying rather than those outlined in the course. If you will not follow the course’s review methodology, why bother enrolling?

3. If you ask my current students, proper methodology increased their scores dramatically. In fact, a few chapters into the course, some students have a tendency to start wanting 99’s whereas just a few weeks before all they wanted was to pass the exam. However, enrolling in the course does not automatically raise your scores. YOU STILL NEED TO STUDY. I cannot magically put information in your head, only you can do that. Since this is an online course, I cannot stand behind you and monitor whether you are studying or not or force you to study. Although there are quizzes and progress reports in the online course, I cannot force you to take the quizzes or write down your progress reports. So if you are not ready to really study, then this course will not do you any good.

4. You need to give me feedback. Per experience, the course methodology works fine for most people, however, for some people they need adjustments. Therefore, giving me regular feedbacks about how you are faring will help so that I can adjust your study methodology to suit you better. This is done by doing the quizzes. If you fail to achieve the required score then we need to review your study methodology and adjust them. Also, I can see where you tend to err in answering questions and I can help you change that tendency so you tend to score higher.

5. You have to attend the weekly online chat. The weekly online chat is set up so you not only have an idea of how others are doing, but also to discuss any questions you have about the review process itself. Since an online course has no formal “class”. This is a good substitute.

6. One on one chat is only available on a case-to-case basis. This is simply because of time constraint. The participant however, can pm me in case they have individual problems.

7. You need to follow schedule. You cannot be prepping forever. Plus any delay in your prep means that there are less people who can join the course. Every batch so far, more people enroll than I can accommodate. If you do not keep to schedule, you are depriving others the chance of realizing their dreams. So there is a need for me to maintain a limit as to how long someone can keep that slot occupied at the expense of others.

8. If you are an old grad who have not opened a basic science book in years, then YOU ARE NOT READY for this prep course. This is because you have not finished your learning phase. I will explain later the difference between learning, mastery and test prep phase. Contact me first and I will tell you what you need to do to be prepared for this course. Nearly half of the reason why people cannot meet the study schedule is because of this. If you have recently prepped for the exam, whether you eventually took it or not, it is possible that you can take this course. Again, best to pm me ahead before applying.

9. The minimum time needed to finish this course is 4 months. If you can devote the right amount of time to the prep. The only way you can finish this in under 4 months is to devote at least 12 hours a day 7 days a week and have a very good memory. And if you can prep for under 2 months and pass Step 1, you do not need to enroll in my course at all. (You can’t imagine how many people keep on asking if they can finish the course in 2 to 3 months. I mean if you can pass the USMLE by prepping in 2 to 3 months, you do not need me, right?)

10. This course is not easy. Any real course that will help you pass or score high in the USMLE can never be easy. Because the USMLE is not easy. People have dropped out of this course. People have scored high with this course. People who have failed multiple times before have passed with good scores with this course. Old grads have passed with this course. But they did what others were not able to do. Stick with the course and finished it. Those who dropped out failed to even start.

11. You need the self-discipline to study on your own. If you need the someone to be physically present to prod you to study, you are better off applying with one of those boot camp prep centers like Kaplan or USMLE Pass. My students have suggested that I open one in the US soon. With the price they are charging, I might be able to offer something for half the price. 😆

If you want a sense of how the prep course is running. Register in my forum at http://forums.askdoc-usmle.com. You can then access the site used by my students. Read their prep journal to get an idea of how the course goes.

If you have read my post, you will know that there are 3 phases in the typical study plan. The “Learning” phase, the “Mastery” phase and the “Test Preparation” phase.

The learning phase is where you try to learn all the different concepts tested in USMLE Step 1. When reading, you can attempt to draw a mental picture of what you are reading to understand the concept or you can repeatedly read through the material to memorize it. In learning phase, your purpose is to understand the concept and not to memorize them.

The mastery phase, is where you concentrate on memorizing and being able to recall medical concepts in detail and at the right speed needed to be able to answer questions in 1 minute or less.

The test preparation phase is where you train yourself to answer USMLE type questions and to be able to sit through an 8 to 9 hour long exam.

There are also 3 types of activities that you use in the 3 phases. Knowledge Acquisition (KA), Knowledge Recall (KR) and Test Prep(TP).

KA includes all activities that tries to put medical knowledge into your knowledge bank (KB). This includes mostly reading and listening to lectures.

KR includes all activities that tries to improve your ability to retain and recall the information the information in your KB. This includes repeatedly reading through the course materials, using flashcards, answering questions and doing word association drills with study mates. It is rare for people to repeatedly listen to lectures when doing KR. They usually prefer to write down notes for the lectures and repeatedly read through them instead.

TP includes all activities that improves your ability to do better in USMLE type MCQ’s. This includes simulating USMLE exams, speed building, increasing stamina, etc.

Learning phase usually involves only KA activities. It is the most variable in terms of length of time needed to accomplish. It depends on how much you already know in the first place. Even fresh grads differ in the medical concepts they have retained even if they graduated together More so for people who are older grads.

People may wonder what it means to have learned something as opposed to have mastered something which is what the Mastery phase is all about. Well to have learned a concept means you understood the concept, while to say you have mastered a concept means you know it in such a depth and will be able to recall it fast when needed

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34 thoughts on “June Class – Accepting Applications for Askdoc’s USMLE Step 1 Prep Course

  • May 21, 2009 at 8:18 am
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    Hi everyone,

    I would like to announce that as of May 21, only 3 positions are left open for this class. In order to avoid people having to constantly ask if a position is still open, I will update the comment section ASAP after I receive an application

    As of May 26, only 2 positions are left open for this class.

    As of May 29, only 1 position is left open for this class.
    Askdoc

  • May 23, 2009 at 5:05 pm
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    Dear Askdoc,

    Can I join your class? I have finished the first reading and in the middle of the 2nd reading. I am planning to do the test in August or Sept.

    Thanks

    Silentlake

  • May 24, 2009 at 8:40 am
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    HI, Askdoc,

    I am just mentally ready to start this long journey. Haven’t bought any book yet. Graduated 6 years ago. Any suggestions will be really appreciated!

    Dina

  • May 24, 2009 at 7:24 pm
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    Dear Dr. Askdoc:

    Please include me in your June class. I have completed two times reading of all subjects and one time FA as well. I’m going to take STEP1 this Sep or Oct. Thank you very much!!!

    Nutcracker

  • May 25, 2009 at 2:42 am
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    Hi silentlake,

    If you join the June class, the earliest you can take the exam is the 4th month or last week of September. However, there are some requirements. First, you should finish first round review on schedule on the 3rd month leaving with you 1 month to do qbanks and test prep activities. Second, you meet minimum score requirements in the per chapter quizzes in the course. Third you are happy with a score in the high 80’s maximum low 90’s. The reason is that you need to finish at least that much of the course to be able to get that score. If you are aiming for a higher score, it is doubtfulwill 4 months is enough. Again whether 4 months is enough depends on you. If you are unable to stick to schedule or achieve minimum standards of excellence in the course, then you may need a full six months to do so.

    Marlene, whose exam experience is posted in my forum, finish 4 months of the 6 months course. but it took her 6 months to do it due to some problems. She got 88 / 213. Another student is currently doing the same because she had to take the exam in June due to school requirements. She is however, on schedule to finish on the 4th month. So far her UW qbank scores seem to indicate she will probably score about the same as Marlene.

    If you want to join the course, you should enroll ASAP as I will strictly limit the number of students I accept for this batch. The next class will be on August already and any excess applicants will have to enroll for that class. To know how many positions are still open, please refer to the first comment as I will update it immediately when someone applies. Remember, you need to submit your application and pay your fees before you are considered enrolled.

    Askdoc

  • May 25, 2009 at 2:58 am
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    Hi Dina,

    You may need to do your learning phase first because 6 years is a long time. There are a lot of concepts you may have forgotten already. I suggest you read basic textbooks first for 3 to 4 months. You can then enroll in the October class for your mastery phase. If you do not understand learning and mastery phase, you need to read my blog first. Anyway for your learning phase you need to read textbooks. If you have a list of textbooks you can use, tell me and I’ll tell you if it is OK. In the learning phase, you need to study the same way it’s done at school and you need to use textbooks rather than reviewers. so you start with anatomy and physiology first. then biochemistry. You then do pathology, micro/immuno and pharma in any order after that. Remember in my course, you will emphasize pathology, micro/immuno and pharma. However, you need anatomy, physiology and biochemistry to understand pathology and pharma. Hence you need to read and understand them well during the learning phase.

    If you want to know what book to use, well again depends on you. For patho, I would recommend Robbin’s Pathologic Basis of Diseases. For pharma and biochemistry, Lippincott’s illustrated review for both subjects are good. For Physiology, I used Guyton in my review. For anatomy, neuroscience, histology and embryology, I have no particular preference. In fact I think Kaplan notes is enough even for old grads. However, you may prefer to use HY Neuroanatomy. For Micro/Immuno, Levinson and Jawetz is very good.

    The key to high scores is mastery. But you cannot master what you do not know. You need to learn it first. The course emphasizes mastery and test prep. You need to finish your learning first before you can join the course.

    Askdoc

  • May 25, 2009 at 3:01 am
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    Hi Nutcracker,

    If you want to join the course. You need to submit your application and pay your fees. Please do so ASAP as the number of students I am accepting for this batch is limited. Please read the comment I gave to silentlake above for additional information about the course.

    Askdoc

  • May 25, 2009 at 5:44 am
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    Askdoc:
    Thanks for reply. How much is your course? Where is the link for application and payment?

    Nutcracker

  • May 25, 2009 at 6:39 am
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    Hi Nutcracker,

    Go to page 2 of this post. You need to send your application to the email address listed there. All other information you need to enroll is listed there. Use the Buy Now PayPal link to remit your fees

    Askdoc

  • May 25, 2009 at 5:03 pm
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    Hi Askidoc:
    How long should I spend each day during course if I plan to complete it by the end of Sept? I have a job (postdoc) to do.

  • May 26, 2009 at 8:40 am
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    Hi nutcracker,

    How long depends on how fast you absorb and retain information. The best way to know is when you’ve started the course. However, so you have some idea. For Pathology, the fastest person can on average finish one chapter in 4 hours. 6 hours per chapter is considered average, while 8 hours per chapter is considered slow. Anything slower than that, then other problems may exist. Anyway so if you are average, 6 hours per day, 6 days a week should be enough. Again you are just aiming for high 80’s and probably low 90’s.

    Mike

  • May 28, 2009 at 7:01 pm
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    Hi Askdoc:
    I have sent out application email and fee. I hope I could get my course study start from June 1. Please instruct me what I should do next.

    Thanks,
    Nutcracker

  • May 29, 2009 at 6:59 am
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    Hi Nutcracker,

    Check your email.

    Askdoc

  • June 2, 2009 at 6:49 am
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    Hi Askdoc, do you have any slots for the June schedule. I have tried several times to join a class but have failed to get in. Waiting for your reply

  • June 2, 2009 at 8:18 am
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    Hi Edward,

    There is still 1 position left open. If you want, you can still enroll for the slot.

    Askdoc

  • June 7, 2009 at 3:06 pm
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    Is there still a position?

  • June 8, 2009 at 2:51 am
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    Hi Silentlake,

    I will still accept applications up to the 15th. There is one position left. After that you have to wait for the next class. which is either August or September.

    Askdoc

  • June 8, 2009 at 8:13 pm
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    Hi Askdoc,

    I read the path demo and really liked it. Is there still position left? I’d like to join. Thanks a bunch.

    dk3154

  • June 9, 2009 at 7:15 am
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    Hi dk3154,

    There is still one slot open. I will indicate here if that slot is already taken. But I will only accept applicants up to the 15th of June, then everyone else should apply for the August class already. I will not accept applications for June class after the 15th even if the final spot is unfilled.

    Askdoc

  • June 9, 2009 at 12:32 pm
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    Askdoc,

    Thanks for the prompt reply. I am new to the website and couldn’t find the application link. How much is the cost?

    dk3154

  • June 10, 2009 at 5:45 am
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    Hi dk3154,

    The applications links are on page 2 of this post. You will find all the relevant information in page 2 of the post.

    Askdoc

  • June 10, 2009 at 7:20 am
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    Hi Askdoc,

    I submitted both the application and the enrollment fee. I had trouble paying via paypal, so I paid with my credit card. Hope I will get in.

    Thanks,
    dk3154

  • June 13, 2009 at 9:28 am
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    Hi Askdoc, did you get my application and the enrollment fee? and, most important 🙂 Did I get in the June class?

    Thanks,
    dk3154

  • June 13, 2009 at 9:51 am
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    Hi dk3154,

    Sorry about the late reply. Was out of the country since Tuesday Night. Just got back today. Was able to get wifi on Wednesday but no Wifi after that. Yes, you were able to get in on time. I’ll be emailing you instructions tomorrow on what to do to start your prep.

    Askdoc

  • July 8, 2009 at 3:02 pm
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    Hi Askdoc,

    Are you accepting applications for August or September? I am almost done with my learning phase and would like to apply for review group! Thank you!

  • July 9, 2009 at 12:29 am
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    Hi medusmle,

    The next class will be in September. Application time starts third week of July. You can also apply for the November class as early as third week of July. Those 2 classes will be the last class for the year.

    Askdoc

  • July 1, 2010 at 6:12 pm
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    Hi Askdoc,
    I would like to apply in your course,is it possible:)I used Kaplan DVD and notes in my learning phase would that be enough:)how can I apply for the course?

  • July 2, 2010 at 12:36 pm
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    Hi lilibeth,

    Just go to my main prep site at http://main.askdoc-usmle.com. On the upper right corner, click on July class and it will take you to the enrollment section. There is no September batch. July is the last batch. You can now enroll anytime. Lecture schedules are posted on the prep site and you can attend any of them so long as you are enrolled in the course.

    Askdoc

  • July 4, 2010 at 4:38 pm
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    Hi Askdoc,
    I want to use paypal but I just applied for it and took a while for activation can I use my friend paypal account to pay.Please REPLY ASAP:)Thanks:)

  • July 4, 2010 at 11:03 pm
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    Hi lilibeth,

    No problem. Just make sure you indicate that the payment is from you. The first lecture is on July 6, 7pm Pacific Time.

    Askdoc

  • July 4, 2010 at 11:45 pm
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    Hi Askdoc,
    Do you mean July is the last batch for this year ?So there is no more class after July batch?I have one more inquiry before I enroll I am not fully done with my learning phase, will I be able to finish the course in time.Can you please you give me more detail how the course will be conducted once I enrolled.Thank you so much Askdoc appreciate your response.

  • July 5, 2010 at 1:02 am
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    Hi Askdoc,
    Once I enrolled can I still finished my learning phase.I need 1 month more to finish it.Will I start the course right away,or I can finish my learning phase while starting the course.Please advise.I really want to be in your course this year please help me.Thanks:)

  • July 5, 2010 at 9:24 am
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    Hi lilibeth,

    First, the reason why even though the course is 5 to 6 months long, the access period has been extended to 9 months is that most people need to do some brush up on their learning phase. Depending on your specific circumstance, learning phase could be as short as 1 month to as long as a year. But for most people it should be between 2 to 3 months. This is also the reason why I’ve eliminated the batches. People of the same batches are not in similar situations, that is why some can finish in 6 months while others are still studying after 9 months. Therefore, the concept of keeping classes in batches is not really working. So currently you can enroll anytime. You can access all online materials for the next 9 months including lecture sessions and chat sessions. So long as your learning phase is less than 3 months, you can enroll now. If you are aiming for the 2012 Match, you need to be on this course right now in order to be have enough time to finish all the steps for applying in September, 2011. It is too late if you are thinking of applying for the 2011 Match since application starts this September and you need to have finished Step 1 by now or will be taking it by August. You will be taught in one of the lectures how to organize and schedule your prep so you keep your own schedule and move at your own pace.

    Askdoc

  • July 5, 2010 at 11:29 pm
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    Hi Askdoc,
    I already signed up in your course.I sent my enrollment form and payment today.Please let me know ASAP if you received it and also let me know when can I start the course and other instructions.Thank you:)

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