So what can you do with US$ 5?
You can use US$ 5 to buy snacks, or tip your favorite waiter, or do yourself a favor and raise your USMLE Scores. Read on to find out how.
Hi. I’m askdoc. Some of you may already know me but for those who don’t a brief introduction. I’m an old IMG graduated way back in ’89. Decided to take the USMLE and took Step 1 in April, 2006 and got a 99 / 256 and Step 2 in November, 2006 and got a 99 / 258. Gave some advise in prep4usmle forum and helped lots of people raise their scores with some even getting 99’s. Now started my own blog, Askdoc’s USMLE Blog.
So what is this secret that will help you raise your scores? Well, unlike most people out there promising you that you will get a 95 or even 99 if you just buy their notes or whatever and study them, what I am going to teach you will raise your score by 2 to 5 points at most (around 4 to 10 points in your three digit score). So why should you be interested in something that raises your score by a measly 2 points? Well, if somebody tells you that he will help you earn a gazillion dollars a year, that looks big, but be realistic, what are the chances of that happening. But if he tells you that it will help you earn 2 to 3 thousand dollars a year. That’s not too big, but you know that is in the realm of possibility. So I won’t promise you a 95 or 99, but I know whatever level you are in currently, do this in the last 2 to 3 weeks before the exam and you will gain an extra 2 to 5 points.
Two important reasons that make the USMLE quite tough is the sheer amount of medical concepts covered by the examination that makes it impossible to cover everything let alone memorize them all and the limited amount of time you have to read the question, recall the concepts being tested and then answer the question. Therefore anything that will help you in this regard during the actual examination can raise your score a few points.
Like most people who have properly prepped for the exam, you have read through the material a couple of times, but you may notice that it takes time for you to recall the concepts you have studied. That is actually normal since only information stored in immediate memory can be recalled fast and our capacity for immediate memory is fairly limited. Therefore we cannot store everything there. Which makes it important to chose what medical concepts we store there and the most logical are the high yield concepts which have a higher chance of appearing in the examination.
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.
The USMLE is also notorious for long winded questions with irrelevant information admixed with relevant ones which makes it harder to answer. Therefore it is important to know key words that will immediately give you clues as to the medical concept you are dealing with.
1. For example when you read t(14;18) what do you think of? Right, Follicular lymphoma.
2. What about “lymph node section full of lymphocytes with occasional macrophage filled with phagocytosed malignant cells? Right, “Starry Sky” appearance of Burkitt’s lymphoma.
3, Now look at the picture below. What is it?
Right, Cherry red macula found in Tay-Sach’s and Neiman-Pick disease.
4. K+ = 6.5 meq/L. Hypokalemia, hyperkalemia or normal? Right, hyperkalemia.
5. Lastly, Klebsiella Pneumonia, Drug of Choice? Right, Cefotaxime + Gentamycin.
USMLE questions can be quite long and recognizing key words can shortcut the analytical process of figuring what the questions is all about and that can help you save time.
The second question illustrates USMLE’s frequent use of description rather than buzzwords in the questions. Therefore, crucial to doing well is knowing the description of buzzwords.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures usually has accompanying cases and you can get the questions by reading the case alone, but being able to recognize the picture can save you time reading the full case. So it makes sense to know the more common medical images.
Although you don’t have to memorize laboratory results. looking them up can take time and memorizing the more common labs can save you significant amount of time looking them up during examination time.
Lastly, one of the most frequent questions asked is treatment of choice for bugs and diseases as well as common side effects of drugs. Therefore, memorizing these stuff is extremely high yield.
The best way to memorize these high yield stuff is actually by using flashcards and not the table format you usually find in books or reviewers. So you can start building your own flashcards (too time consuming) or purchase commercial ones ( a bit expensive) or you could just enroll in my course High Yield Fast Facts. All the items above are from the High Yield Fast Facts course which is in an electronic flashcard format. It uses the Leitner flashcard system which is the most efficiently format for memorizing large number of unrelated information like vocabularies or foreign language. You can read about it in wikipedia.
So High Yield Fast Facts is not expensive at all, just US$5.00 for 2 weeks access. It’s cheaper than even making your own flashcards. The main purpose of Askdoc’s USMLE prep site is to help people get higher scores in the USMLE, not to earn money. In fact if I could give it free, I would. The US$ 5.00 is to help keep the site going.
You can chose to spend US$ 5.00 to buy snacks, to donate to a street performer or to raise your USMLE scores. Do yourself a favor, donate US$ 5.00 for your own benefit. Enroll in Askdoc’s High Yield Fast Facts Course, the last 2 to 3 weeks before the examination and raise your USMLE scores. Don’t you think that US$ 5.00 is a small price to pay for higher USMLE scores?