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Today I’ll not talk about the USMLE but something else. Although I set up my blog on March 23, 2008, My first real post on the USMLE was posted exactly 4 months ago on March 28, 2008. So in a sense we are celebrating my fourth month as blogger and I’ll start by posting the different milestones my blog have reached.

After 4 months (as of July 27, 2008)

Total posts: 30
Number of pageviews: 7,046 – 4,439 in July alone
Number of Visitors: 2,290 – 1,528 in July alone
Number of Countries: 87 from 812 cities
Top 5 countries: United States: 1, 548; Canada: 122; India:117; Philippines:86; Pakistan: 48
Number of downloads of my ebook “How to Create a Study Plan for the USMLE”: 524
Alexa top rank for all websites: 3 month average rank: 2,852.091 (8,600,000 6 weeks ago)
1 week average rank: 751,712

All in all not bad for a blog that’s just celebrating its 4th month. And I have to thank you my audience for this success. Of course, I would also like to thank prep4usmle, usmleforum, prep4md, usmlemd, mdin2009 and southerndoc for their support. Now if I could only get people to click on my adsense ads, my life would be complete. 😀

After all this what have I learned. Well, First it is not easy to run a website, even something as simple as a blog. So kudos to those who’ve paved the way. Whereas before, I just plow through forums and blogs, now I take the time to click on those ads to show my support, although I still tend to forget sometimes :mrgreen: . Second, no matter how careful and logical you are in writing, there are still people who don’t believe you. If they fail, then they come back, ready to listen. But I guess those who pass with low scores never realize that they’ve missed the opportunity to score higher. You never miss what you never had. Third, that although for some people it is enough to teach them how to study and they can go on to review on their own, not everyone can do it. Some people need to have study tools given to them and taught how to use them. Some will need close couching in order to get any review done. So there will always be a need for reviewers and review schools.

So what’s in store for the future for Askdoc. Well, I’ll continue writing my blog to help people achieve their dream and pass the USMLE. There’s still a lot to write about. Different people have different skills and different needs. Some have poor memory, others have excellent ones. Some read slowly, some read quite fast. Some are better informed about the USMLE, some aren’t. I strive to write solutions for different situations for different people.

I’ve already started the USMLE Wiki Project at It will be officially announced in my blog once I’ve finished writing the pathology section. It will be equivalent to the Kaplan Lecture Notes plus additional information needed for people who want to go for 90++ or even 99’s. Although printable, it will be easier to use it online as there will be built in links to different sections of the Wiki. For example, related topics in Nutritional Pathology will be linked to Nutrition section of biochemistry in one click. You can be reading cardiovascular pathology and cardiovascular anatomy, physiology and pharmacology will be one click away. It will also contain hundreds of high yield photographs eventually organized in two ways. In appropriate sections of the Wiki and as a collection of high-yield images with captions you can review exclusively. As always, you can go to appropriate sections of the Wiki discussing the image concerned in one click. Once Step 2 CK is finished, there’ll be appropriate links to Step 1 topics needed in step 2, for example menstrual physiology in OB. You may or not use the link, but it’ll be there for quick review if you chose to do so.

As I’ve noted, there are people who seem to need couching in order to make it through this exam and it seems their only alternative is to spend thousands of dollars in review courses that are made for the average examinee and not tailormade to their particular needs. My take is, if they are the average examinee, they should’ve no problem passing this exam. They need special couching. So I am starting, hopefully by September, a prep course for USMLE Step 1 online. It will be free initially but due to limited resources, both time and financial in my case will be limited to 6 positions. I will be developing study materials for the course that would concentrate on increasing retention and recall of information which seems to be the biggest problem of this group of examinees. However, since probably the only way for me to keep this prep course going let alone expanding it is additional financial resource, I may have to charge for it eventually. Look for the official announcement hopefully by the end of this week, latest next week.

So that’s how it is 4 months into Askdoc’s USMLE Blog. Hope you all pass and with a good score. Happy prepping.


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14 thoughts on “Milestone

  • July 28, 2008 at 6:34 am

    Thank you for this blog and experiences/information you provide.
    You help examinees A LOT!!!

  • July 28, 2008 at 7:19 am

    This is excellent Alexa ranking only for 4 months. Congratulations! Since I noticed your blog (pointed out by Y.S. from prep4md) I have no doubts that askdoc-usmle will be a huge success.

    Speaking of this on-line course…are you going to have one for step 2 ck, because I would like to get enrolled?

  • July 28, 2008 at 9:22 am

    To Robinlee and Dokidok: Thanks, will try hard not to disappoint.

    To Dokidok: Although I will eventually organize a step 2 CK prep, it will probably be sometime before I get to it. You see Step 2 CK suffers from lack of really good prep material. Kaplan Notes is the best not because it is very good but because there is nothing better out there. Medical Facts is around 65 to 70% of Step 2 CK compared to close to 100% of Step 1, yet most step 2 CK texts follow step 1 in covering only medical facts. 30 to 35% of Step 2 CK is clinical decision making and few texts emphasize clinical decision making. Most learn this only in Q Banks, which helps but studying it before doing q banks make it less of a hit and miss approach. Kaplan notes cover them only lightly and worse have precious few pathophysiology which is about 10 to 15% of Step 2 CK (part of the medical facts section) so you either have recently finished step 1 or know what patho concepts to reread on for step 2 CK on your own. If you reread Step 1 Patho, half of what you read will not be necessary for Step 2 CK.

    In short, I have to prepare more study materials for Step 2 Prep if I am to insure that people will have a good prep and get a decent score. Unlike step 1 where there are lots of good off the shelf review materials we can use as I slowly develop alternate study materials that will make review more efficient. Using off the shelf materials with Step 2 CK will mean reading multiple materials which is less effiecient.

  • July 28, 2008 at 10:08 am

    To Dokidok: However, I can give you a few pointers but you have to make your own study material. You need to make diagnostic algorithms from Kaplan notes. This is especially easy with Surgery and Ob-gyne as the text itself is organized that way. It is harder with Pedia and IM but still possible. Supplement IM and Pedia diagnostic algorithm from Blueprints but only if you can borrow them. Don’t buy them. Blueprint Ob-gyne is the exception. I feel it is much better than Kaplan notes Ob although better to use both. Study pathophysiology of most of the diseases covered in Kaplan notes. Just open Kaplan pathology and read only on diseases in Kaplan notes. Step Up medicine have good coverage of IM diagnostic algorithms and pathophysiology although again incomplete. However, a bit tedious to read and review. Could stand better organization.

    There are 2 more milestones that my blog has “arrived”.
    38 spam comments and 2 spam registration. 🙂

  • July 28, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    @askdoc: I read two times very thoroughly the whole post and your 2 comments. I also wrote down short notes.

    What is the best way for you to give me some pointers? Here in the comments? A new post? an e-mail?

  • July 29, 2008 at 7:09 am

    thanks dude …. ur website has really helped me with the basic homework I was looking for. Will be back with my questions !!!! May the force be with u.

  • July 29, 2008 at 8:58 am

    To dokidok: Writing a full post in step 2 CK review will be quite long. However, I will email you some tips. If you would agree that I don’t have to explain each procedure then it will be a shorter write-up. However, we may have to do it in pieces, as writing it in one blow will be quite long. I will try to explain a bit why you should do things a certain way but not completely. This will be the way I will handle the actual prep course (Once I do actually get to it) except you make your own study materials (though I will give you some guide on how to do it) And you won’t get as much handholding as what will happen in the prep course.

    If the email you entered with your comment is where I should email you, please tell me here. Give me a few days to write the first instruction though.

  • July 29, 2008 at 10:42 am

    @askdoc:Thank you kindly!
    I am looking forward to see and learn your tips and advice.
    The e-mail you can contact me is: marketplace100_at_yahoo_com, the same one entered with my comments.

  • August 24, 2008 at 1:11 am

    I love your blog…I think its the most insightful view on getting ready for the USMLE.


    P.S. We should do a link exchange.

  • August 26, 2008 at 10:04 am

    to mdin2009,

    Thank you and it’s done.

  • September 1, 2008 at 5:34 am

    Hi askdoc,
    For some reason my previous comment didn’t get posted so I’m writing again. I’m hoping you are able to help me with some advice regarding my prep. Wish I had known about your prep course for step 1 earlier. I would have surely applied to participate as I now think I desperately need it. I would like to contact you directly if possible just to get some advice to get started. That would be great! Thanks! Keep up the good work!

  • September 6, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Wow. For a new blog like yours, it is doing great. Just wait until it reaches its first birthday and it will have very good stats.

    Regarding the Adsense Ads, it looks like you skipped a couple of lines when you read the “contract”, lol. In case you didn’t know they highly stress that advertisers are not to encourage family, friends, or site visitors to click on the Ads. They say that they may terminate an account if they suspect suspicious behaviors like that.

    Anyhow, from my experience, just so you do not have high expectations, the Ads do not pay well at all. It took me like 6 months to make my first $100! That is ridiculous. Yes, the Ads generate more revenue now but still I am not satisfied at all.

    It is not a secret that the key to higher revenue is raising your blogs traffic. The more the traffic the higher the revenue. Again from my experience, among every 100 visitors only one will click on the Ads. You know all the other numbers so you can do the math and make your own conclusions. And I suggest you put one small “banner” over your first post. It will get more clicks over there for sure.

    Although I do not want to be nosy, I find my self tempted to ask this: is the US worth all what you are doing and going through? and will you be applying for the match this season?

    As always, I wish you the very best.

  • September 6, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Yeah, there is one more thing that I noticed. I think your RSS feeds are not working. I tried subscribing from my browser (firefox) and it didn’t work. I tried subscribing using the button in the sidebar and it didn’t work either. I tried using another browser (chrome) and I still couldn’t subscribe.

    So, I have two small suggestions:
    1- Adsense banner on the top.
    2- After fixing the blog’s “feeds” famous bloggers usually put them on the top too. I suggest over the “recent posts box”

  • September 9, 2008 at 1:49 am

    Hi prep4md,

    Actually my current stats is much higher.

    3 month rank is 1,655,110
    1 month rank is 1,065,403
    7 day rank is 1,087,210

    The 7 day rank fluctuates the most. It was 1, 500,000++ last week and 597,000 the week before last.

    However, there is a problem. According to google analytics, my 3 month ending September 8 is as follows: 5799 visits, 3,352 unique visitors, 20,532 pageviews and 4:38 minutes/ visit.

    US is 4,125 visits, 3.56 pages/visit
    Canada is 277 visits, 2.60 pages/visit
    India is 215 visits, 3.02 pages/visit
    Philippines is 180, 5.86 pages /visit
    and Taiwan is 73, 4.3 pages/visit

    However, Alexa gave my percentage as follows:
    US 43.0%
    India 34.2%
    Taiwan 7.9 %
    Philippines 7.0%

    Canada is nowhere in sight. Plus US traffic is probably massively underreported since India, Taiwan and Philippines are too high compared to US percentages. So question is how much is the actual traffic being under reported, especially coming from the US and Canada.

    Plus, during the week when my pageviews were going as high as 1,000 a day most of it from the US. My 7 day rank was falling to 2,000,000 ++, although my 3 month rank was holding steady. So Alexa seems to underreport US traffic massively as far as my site is concerned.

    The adsense spiel is just a joke. My adsense is pulling in around $18 to $20 a month the past 3 months, so probably will get my check in 3 more months. But I earn over 150x that in my day job. My maid earns 5x that amount. Anyway in the Philippines, we have a term for that “consuelo de bobo”, literally to console the fool. It means better than nothing. Plus, it doesn’t work, revenues didn’t increase at all despite almost double the traffic. And putting the ads in out of the way places, is per design. My bro and my GF have been telling me to put them on top and in the posts since Day 1. But that would be too commercial for me.

    As for going to the US, no choice for me now as my GF, whom I hope to marry in a year or so, lives and works in San Francisco. So for me, it was never an economic decision. First it was professional, then it became the oldest reason in the world I guess.

    As for the match, no I won’t go this year. Many of my classmates have urged me to try academic medicine first. In fact, one offered me an H1B job in the medical school where he is an associate professor in IM and an interventional cardiologist. This was before my first try for the 2008 match last year. I turned him down to give the match a try. He had advised me to go to academic medicine for a year or two. And if I still want to, then go for the match. Even with a double 99, according to him, being an old grad can be tough without backers. He was right. He wasn’t the only one. Other classmates, who are professors in different medical schools also gave the same advise. So now, I’ll probably try their route. One even told me that one of my classmates is a member of the residency selection committee in her hospital. That is if I want to go to Family Medicine. So I’ll be going to the US this November, visit some of my classmates for a “conference” and plan out my moves next year.

    As for the feeds, I tried them with both IE and Mozilla Firefox and they both work, so I don’t understand why it isn’t working with yours. I probably should check it out using other computers just to be sure. Anyway thanks for the info. Appreciate your concern.

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