Wednesday, 2 April 2014

I'm back, baby!

                It's been ages since I last blogged. Decided to come back to it, and still love the idea of anonymous blogging

Monday, 31 May 2010

Using The 'Taus' Method for Step 1 preparation

Came across the taus method and it seems like a good study plan. I'll use/follow it. I'll post it here.
Disclaimer: This study plan was created by Taus.


Table of Contents

Basic Timeline…………………………………………………………Page 2
Review Books and other Study Materials……………………………..Page 3
Question Sources………………………………………………………Page 4
Basic Sciences…………………………………………………………Page 5
Systems………………………………………………………………...Page 6
Last 2 Weeks…………………………………………………………..Page 7
COMLEX-specific Info………………………………………………Page 10
General Pointers……………………………………………………...Page 10
Question Answering Advice………………………………………….Page 10
Week Before, Day Before, Day of Advice…………………………...Page 11
FAQ’s………………………………………………………………...Page 12

Basic Timeline:

First run through: (75:25 study:Q’s)*
1) Consolidate all books into FA (except Goljans Rapid Review Path and HY Molecular will be used throughout and in full)
2) Listen to corresponding Goljan audio during appropriate subject/system
3) Paper question sources directly by subject after studying each subject (as specific as cardio path, cardio phys, cardiac pharm...all individually)
4) Study for understanding, ie don’t try to memorize all the details yet
5) Take NBME 4

Second run through: (50:50 study:Q’s)*
1) Study in full systems using only FA w/ all annotations, Goljan RR, HY Molec
2) Listen to corresponding Goljan audio during appropriate subject/system for 2nd time
3) 50 UsmleWorld questions every morning in random and timed blocks of 50
5) Take NBME 2
6) Memorize more and more detail beyond just understanding

Third run through: (25:75 study:Q’s)*
1) FA, Goljan, HY molec only
2) 100 UsmleWorld questions (as above)
3) Take NBME 3
4) Everything should be fully memorized by now

Last two weeks and final 3 days: details below

* the % study:Q’s reflects the amount of time per day that should be spent on each, with the amount of time spent doing questions progressing up as you move along through each run through the information and the time spent studying material going down

Review Books and Other Materials:
* Using ebay,, amazon, etc for used copies will save tons of $$

• First Aid (most current edition- comes out each December)
-there are mistakes in this book every single year, here are the 2007 errata: aid-for-the-usmle-step-1/

• Rapid Review Pathology (by Goljan)
-there were several reported errors in the first printing of this book, so be sure to check out Dr. Goljan’s official errata page at:

• Rapid Review Biochem
-way more succinct and clinical then Lippincott and co-authored by Goljan
* Alternatively: the Kaplan Biochem book by Hansen is excellent and by far the best of the Kaplan series....if you can get it cheaply….do it

• Goljan audio and slides (available in bootleg only)

• High Yield Behavioral Science

• High Yield Neuro (some sections are too detailed, but basics and pics are good)

• High Yield Cell and Molecular (1999 edition- new one has way too much detail)

• Lange Review of Medical Micro and Immuno by Levinson
-only for Immuno section, which is ~90 pages

• Micro Made Ridiculously Simple (edition 3 is fine)

• Savarese OMT Review (for DO students only)

• BRS Physiology

Question Sources:

• Reference and/or write incorrect answers or anything you were even remotely unsure ofFA to review the concept again later
• use questions primarily as a learning tool and don’t worry about your % til near the test

• Robbins Review of Path
• Savarese (OMM)
• Kaplan Qbook
- this will sound odd…but its well worth it: the book is subject based (ie path, phys, micro, etc…so take an hour or so to go through this book and mark which system each question fits into within each subject (ie under Path mark all the renal q’s, lung q’s, etc.) Reading the last line and answer choices makes it pretty quick & easy to do. This will be worth it when you need system-specific q’s during your first run through.

Computer Based:
• UsmleWorld (~2000q)
• Webprep:

*purposefully not using Kaplans QBank as most questions do not represent the current style on the exam, are too minutia based and it is way overpriced. You will still get the benefits of Kaplan for under $40 w/ Qbook.

______________________________________________________Basic Sciences:
* do in order of your weakeststrongest subjects
* “” in the following sections means to annotate from one to the other for clarifications

• Rapid Review (or Kaplan) FA (use only to clarify topics in First Aid…don’t add topics)
•Goljan: Ch1-cell injury, Ch7-Nutritional Disorders, any other relevant places w/ biochem (ie anemia, diabetes)
•FA Path Intro

Molec Bio/Genetics:
•HY (FA is NOT enough in this subject)
•Goljan: Ch5-Genetic Disorders, Ch8-Neoplasia
•FA Path Intro

Pharmacodynamics and Physio Intros:
• FA (just pharmacodynamics and autonomics at this time)
• Goljan: Ch6-Environmental Path
• BRS Phys Ch. 1 and autonomics in Ch. 2

•Levinson FA
•Goljan: Ch2-inflammation and repair, Ch3-immunopathology

Micro Principles and Micro Pharm:
- major system-specific bugs will be re-visited during their respective systems, ie hepatitis and causes of diarrhea w/ GI, pneumonia w/ Pulm, meningitis w/ Neuro, etc

Anatomy (Musculoskeletal):
• FA only

•FA only

•HYFA (clarifying only..don’t add much…also know equations well)

**pysch w/ neuro later (only research, stats, patient-care stuff now)

¬¬¬¬¬¬¬Full Systems
*Order in each system: anatomyphysiomicropathpharm (add others where needed or specified by FA)

•Goljan: Ch.11-15

•Goljan:Ch 4-fluids(only edema to end), Ch9-Vascular Dz, Ch10, Heart Dz
• BRS Phys: Ch3-cardio

•Goljan: Ch4-fluids (beginning to edema), Ch19-Kidney disorders
•BRS phys: Ch5-renal and acid/base

•Goljan: Ch16-upper and lower respiratory
•BRS Phys: Ch4-respiratory

•Goljan: Ch17-GI, Ch18-hepatobiliary
•BRS Phys: ch6

•Goljan: Ch20-male and lower GU, 21-female
•BRS Phys: ch7-endocrine (only relevant sections)

•Goljan: Ch22-endocrine
•BRS Phys: ch7-endocrine

•Goljan: ch24 and the one page in the MSK chapter of FA

Musculskeletal & Connective Tissue:
•Goljan: Ch23 msk disorders

•Goljan: ch25-nervous system
•HY NeuroFA (don’t add much, just explain well….also Radiology in HY is useful)
•BRS phys: Ch2 neuro phys
• HY BehavioralFA Pysch

The last 2 weeks

AM: 100 UW Questions, in random/timed blocks of 50, then go over all explanations in full

PM: 6 hours of studying as divided below
- get through everything in 10 Days
- final 3 day plan at the end

1a 4 hours
• FA
• Goljan: Ch1-cell injury, Ch7-Nutritional Disorders
• FA Path Intro

1b 2 hours
Behavoral (all except Pysch):

2a 6 hours
Molec Bio:
•Goljan: Ch5-Genetic Disorders, Ch8-Neoplasia
•FA Path Intro

3a 2 hours
Pharmacodynamics and Autonomic Pharm:
•FA pharm section
•Goljan:Ch6-Environmental Path

3b 4 hours
• FA
•Goljan: Ch2-inflammation and repair, Ch3-immunopathology
• aids pharm
•immuno pharm in msk section of FA

4a 4 hours
Micro Principles and Micro Pharm:

¬¬¬¬¬¬¬Full Systems

4b 2 hours & 5a 2 hours
•Goljan: Ch.11-15

5b 4 hours
•Goljan:Ch 4-fluids(only edema to end), Ch9-Vascular Dz, Ch10, Heart Dz

6a 4 hours
•Goljan: Ch4-fluids (beginning to edema), Ch19-Kidney disorders

6b 2 hours & 7a 2 hours
•Goljan: Ch16-upper and lower respiratory
•FA, Bugs

7b 4 hours
•Goljan: Ch17-GI, Ch18-hepatobiliary
•FA, Bugs (diarrhea,hep,worms)

8a 3 hours
•Goljan: Ch20-male and lower GU, 21-female
•FA, UTI/STD bugs

8b 3 hours
•Goljan: Ch22-endocrine

9a 5 hours
Musculskeletal & Skin & Anat:
•Goljan: Ch23 msk disorders
•FA MSK anatomy (in neuro section)
•Goljan: ch24-skin
•look at some GI/thoracic CT’s

9 b 1 hour

10a 4 hours
•Goljan: ch25-nervous system
•FA, bugs
•Radiology in HY/online

10b 2 hours
•FA (some in behav section too)

3rd to last Day
- ½ of margin (blue) notes in RR Path & slides
- crammable facts in immuno (CD markers, etc)
- all of Biochem

2nd to last Day
- ½ of margin (blue) notes in RR Path & slides
- molec & genetics in full
- all of pharm- go through all systems in FA
- some behavioral/biostats (non-pysch)…quickly review high yield areas

Last day
- FA HY section (at end of book) & Pics
- formulas and lab values one last time
- pharm sides in FA (those 2 pages in the intro to pharm section)

Overall Studying Advice and Boards Info:

COMLEX-specific info:

• Between USMLE and COMLEX: Savarese & Bugs n Drugs
• More of: Micro, Pharm, OMM, Extremity Anatomy, Neuro
• Less of (but not non-existant): Biochem, Molecular, Genetics, Biostats

General Pointers:

• know the meaning of all buzzwords (won’t see the actual word often)
• know all charts/graphs/diagrams in FA inside and outwill be tested abstractly
• start with weakest subjects
• only know equations in FA
• memorize all lab values (FA has a list of most commonly used)
• learn Tutorial on and location of all buttons, labs, etc
• always keep scheduled breaks during studying
• study like a job, clock in, clock out, when you’re done for the session you’re done
• NBME’s – must start within 30 days of registering and have 20 days to complete once start them…45$ each on…buy in “un-timed” mode so you can review and study from questions (answers and explanations are not given)

Question answering advice

* w/ a long passage, read the last line 1st then always read from beginning and in full
* practice doing q’s in 1 minute
* ~45 seconds read Q, ~15 secs answer
* only read question once
* always paraphrase after each sentence in Q
* don’t look at answers til have read entire passage and thought of answer
* if you think you’re taking too long on a Q, you are….guess, mark it and move on
* never change answers on anything except “marked” q’s
* only check answers of questions marked for review
* if you think you know answer, but not 100%, put it and move on, no time to be 100%
* Steps of answering a Q:
1. Read Q and paraphrase after each sentence
2. Paraphrase entire question and think of the answer w/o looking at answers
3. Select your answer and quickly make sure it’s the “best” answer
4. If didn’t get answer yet, eliminate answers and narrow down to 2-3 then guess
5. If couldn’t narrow down, select favorite letter then guess
- do not re-read the question b/w any of these steps…there is no time

Week Before Test:

* NO new material
* sleep on a set schedule that will be the same as test day, no naps
* review the tutorial (you can download the software on
* call prometric to confirm time/date

Day Before:

Relax, work out, watch a movie, etc….nothing stressful… wouldn’t run a practice marathon the day before the real race… rest your brain

Test Day Advice

* only mark a few Q’s per section for review and mark #’s on white board
* during breaks clear your head, don’t think about test or previous q’s
* Never press Alt+Control+Delete
* You can highlight and/or strike-out information in the Q and answers
* lab values are categorized, but still memorize before
* computer shortcuts: Enter or Spacebar = next question, Escape = closes labs or other popup boxes, Alt T= shows timers
* There is no warning about going over your break time on the screen, you have to keep track of your break yourself
* Passing is usually around 60-70% correct
* no digital watches, analog only
* take a 30 second breather at your seat during a block in you’re really stressed.

Score Report:

• 3-6 weeks for score report, always comes on a Wednesday


Q’s that I have been asked about the guide:

Q1) How do you physically consolidate everything into First Aid without the pages becoming un-readable with little scribbled writings? Also, do you mean you used FA mainly and referred to some text books as you went through topics in the FA?

A1) I found that a good way to get all of my clarifications/info/good charts/etc into FA was to get the book binding cut off and have it 3-hole punched (5$ at kinkos) and put it in a binder. This way you can add loose-leaf and whatever other pages you want and truly have everything consolidated into one place after your first run through of the info (except RR path and HY molec).

That’s basically what I did and what my plans outlines how to do. The areas where more info is needed beyond what’s in FA are indicated in my plan. The goal is to use other sources to help you completely understand everything in FA, down to all the implications of all the little details in it.
Q2) How long did it take you to get through each run through?

A2) It’s really an individual thing and depends on how much time you have to study. The first run-through should take as much time as you need to make sure you completely UNDERSTAND (not necessarily memorize) everything. Most basic sciences took me around 4-7 days and most systems were b/w 3-5 days. When you're done w/ this you need to take a look at how much time you have left and how many days you think you realistically need to get through each subject the next time around. Pull out a calendar and map this out while making sure you leave around 2 weeks at the end for the final review.

This is what I did, but it totally depends on how much time you have overall and how much you need for individual subjects.

I know this wasn't a concrete answer, but boards studying is a very individual thing and only you know how much time you need for certain topics (which is also why I wouldn't rec. taking a review course)

Q3) I do not fully understand your 3 prong plan. So in the first run through: (75:25 study:Q’s), its here that I am consolidating all my info in first aid, but does that mean the basic science run AND the systems? I’m asking because in your plan, you separated BASIC SCIENCE and SYSTEMS - so should I go through BOTH in the first run?

If yes then what am I supposed to do in the 2nd run? Just go through basic sciences and systems again?

A3) Both systems and basic sciences are in the 1st run through.....then during the 2nd and 3rd time you go through EVERYTHING again. The only difference is during the 2nd time through you are done consolidating into FA and are doing more questions. During the 3rd time you are spending most of your day doing questions but you are still going through all of the info.

Q4) Do you have any suggestions on how to best “annotate” from the various review books to FA?

A4) I found it very efficient and beneficial to do the following:
1. Quickly flip through the FA chapter that you are about to study to basically just see what’s in it and how its organized.
2. Open up your other review book for that subject and read a short section (ie a few paragraphs or pages.
3. Go back to FA and find the small section that corresponds to what you just read in your review book (usually just a small portion of 1 page or so) and make notes to further explain/clarify what’s in FA. I indicated in my plan where you will need to add info to FA vs. just clarify it. This way, during your 2nd and 3rd runs through you will be able to easily streamline your studying towards what’s important and will fully understand every detail in FA.
4. Rinse and repeat until you are finished with the review book and section in FA.
5. You now never need to open that review book again (except for RR Path and HY CMB) after the 1st run through.

Q5) If you're plan was over 2.5-3 months then how long did you take for each real run through? If each run through = 25 days X3 = 75 days = ~ 2.5 months + 2 weeks for the crunch = ~ 3 months total, does that sound right? I really like the idea of multiple reviews of the topics, as I'm just not one of those people that can see something for one day of my prep and remember it for 5 weeks until the test.

A5) As for how long to spend on each run-through…each one should take less then the one that preceded it. As for exactly how long…its really gotta be an individual thing. Some topics on the first run-through took me a week...some 2 days.

Q6) How long did it take you to get through the blue margin notes in RR and are you happy you did it? I’m trying to decide between blue margins and 36pg goljan high yield for my last few days of studying.

A6) I decided to use the margin notes over the 36pg HY mainly b/c I had read the margin notes several times as I went through the main text of RR, so I knew I wouldn't be seeing any new/foreign info during the final days of studying. Being familiar w/ the format also allowed me to go through it really fast (~2 hours). I had previously randomly flipped through the 36 pg HY and didn't see any info that wasn't in the margin notes (or main text) and thought the format would be too cumbersome to get through quickly. Was it worth it? I’m not sure if it added many points to my score, but it was nice to have the meat of the test very fresh in my mind

Q7) In your plan you mention FA path intro, what do you mean by that? I have FA 2006 right now (annotated with extra pages and all errata fixed, so I don't want to upgrade to 2007). Is path intro in the 2007 edition?

A7) I don't think the separate path intro is in the 06 version, but all that info should still be in the book w/ other chapters somewhere... its all the basics of inflammation/cell injury/neoplasia/etc
Q8) Regarding RR Pathology: I read through it once already and liked it a lot.
I´m not sure if I’ll be able to work through FA, 100 Qs each day AND the whole RR Pathology again. Can give me some advice how to divide my time appropriately and also suggest what the high yield, must read portions of RR are?

A8) I wouldn't read the entire thing again word-for-word. On top of the charts, summary tables and side comments...I'm assuming that you underlined/highlighted/etc the points that were crucial and that you wanted to go over again. If you haven't done any of that, then I would try to use what he goes over in his audio and what FA hits on as a guide for what’s high yield. As far as what chapters, it’s tough to say as all systems are pretty impt. Also, definitely don't neglect the intro chapters on the basics of inflammation/cell injury/neoplasia/etc.

Q9) Did you really feel that FA was enough for embryo and anatomy?

A9) Yes, I did. I would consider flipping through HY Anatomy for the PICTURES ONLY....just to review some classic cross-sections. As for embryo....I mean if you want to spend a week learning tons of crazy little details, have at it, but I'll take what I got from FA and leave it at that. I had 2 embryo q's on my test and both were in FA
Q10) What is the online portion of "Radiology in HY/online"?

A10) I meant that beyond the pictures in HY Neuro... I think it’s a good idea spend an hour or 2 looking through mri/ct/angio's etc of the brain from one of the many online radiology sites. Some sites to check out are:

Q11) You mentioned Kaplan as a possible review book for biochemistry. Is a complete review by Kaplan an equally, poorer, or better way to approach studying for the exam. Why not just use all of their books?

A11) Kaplan biochem is a really solid book, but there are simply better options then Kaplan for the remaining subjects.

Q12) Why did you choose those specific topics for the last few days?

A12) As for why I chose biochem/molec/genetics/pharm/etc....I tried to pick things that had a lot of small details to memorize, which tend to be ones that only stick in my short-term memory. Everyone has a different topic that fits that criteria and you've just gotta honestly say what you need to look at one more time (and not have "everything" as your answer)


I'll start my USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) step 1 study on June 1st, 2010. I should have started 3 months ago but kind of kept procastinating. Silly I know. I'm looking to take the exam in November. That should be enough time to study. I just finished school in February so don't have any distractions. I'm finalising my study timetable. Wish me luck. Hopefully take Step 2 CS in January 2011, and step 2 CK in May 2011. And see if I can take step 3 by August or September 2011. Apply in September 2011 for the 2012 Residency match. Start a 1 year online or campus MPH(Masters in Public Health) in August or September 2011 and finish it in june 2012, on time before Residency starts. Got an offer in a canadian university for MPH with a reasonable tuition fee, for september 2010, but have to focus on writing the USMLE first. Thats my first priority. Will defer the admission for next year, the only thing that sucks is its a 2 years program and full time, no distance learning options. O well, USMLE first. Its good to plan ahead of time and have a schedule, so by God's grace I'll achieve all these within the time frames. Once again wish me luck. :) Let the crazy studying begin. I'll pop in here to write on my progress. Married to my first aid. Feel free to leave comments and any fellow exam takers are welcome.

Monday, 8 September 2008

I started my first rotation today baby!!!

I'm so excited.
I started my first rotation today with pediatrics.
1st day and we were already given assignments and presentations for tomorrow :(
Lucky for me the consultant is not mean
He's really nice
And this rotation is a duration of 6 weeks
The whole rotations both cores and electives are a total duration of 72 weeks
So my 72 weeks has started counting baby!!!
After that I'm through with med school
Then I have a whole lot of professional exams to write

I realised this(pediatrics- kids) is one of the most fragile fields in medicine alongside geriatrics (elderly people).
A good number of our patients today were babies and others children
The babies were so fragile
I think pediatrics is a bit complicated cos in cases of babies or kids that can't talk, they can't tell you what is wrong with them or their symptoms
You just have to go with what you see and the parent's observations
And confirm it with possible tests to diagnose
Right now I'm confused in what to specialise in, but I still have time to figure that out
I'm not so sure about specialising in pediatrics again, I'm changing my mind
When I do rotations in other fields I'll see the ones I like best or enjoy most
Till then I'll know
But for now I'll just focus on my rotations and on being a better medical student/doctor
I better go to sleep now
My first day went great
The only hitch was that I got tired from standing up for a long time
I have to get used to standing up for a long time cos stamina is needed as a doctor
Some surgeries take hours and I'll have to stand for even longer hours so I better get used to it now
Its 2:06a.m and I'm still up
I have to be at the hospital before 9a.m and its not close to my house
A good number of the kids had asthma and allergies, and one had a swollen thyroid gland
Some of my presentation topics are "Failure to thrive (FTT)", "Downs syndrome", "Edwards syndrome", "Patau syndrome".
Only me!!!
I better go to bed now before I wake up late

Saturday, 16 August 2008

2 weeks to go before its rotation time baby!!!

I'm kinda excited the semester is almost over
Was posted in the Accident & Emergency (A & E) ward
It was okay, we saw a good number of cases
Worked on and improved my clerking skills
The doctors were quite nice and helpful
I guess maybe its cos we were not being evaluated by them
I have one exam next 2 weeks
After that exam I won't have to write any exams till my last final exam to graduate(still have professional exams to write)
Sheesh, medicine never ends
It will only be evaluations from our consultants
Will be starting rotations proper in september
I'm sooo excited
Time is moving fast and I love it that way
Can't wait to graduate

I've already planned out my rotations
Want to do the major/core rotations first
And after that I'll do some electives
I'm thinking of which one to start first
Being asking lots of questions
Wanted to start with Psychiatry but changed my mind cos its kinda depressing and will prefer to do one or two other before I do it
I thought of surgery too but realised it will be better to have a good knowledge of internal medicine first before doing it
So I've decided to do Pediatrics first

When it came to what specialty I wanted to take
I thought of Gynecology but my Aunt told me it was time consuming and very demanding & is best suited for an unmarried lady
I then thought of pediatrics but later realised kids are not easy to handle and understand
I thought of internal medicine
Surgery is out of the question cos I also want to have time for my family esp. my kids
I guess when I'm through with rotations I'll get a clearer view of what I really want to specialise in
I have less than 2 years to finish andd I'm so happy about that

Thursday, 14 August 2008

The journey so far baby!!!

Medicine has always been what I've always wanted to study since I was a kid
It has always been my lifelong dream
To help others
To be able to reach out and to make a difference in this world
I come from a family with many health professionals
2 of my immediate uncles and their wives are doctors
Another of my immediate uncle's wife is also a doctor
My mom, her sister and their mom(my grandma) are also nurses
Most of my sibs are also medical students
So I guess there's a lot of inspiration and motivation around me

The journey so far has been both rocky and good
I've had my good times and bad times
I've had my moment of despair and moment of hope
I've had times when I wanted to give up and times when God told me not to
But I'm glad to be more than half way done
I'll use this blog to share my past experiences in the medical world, and as time goes on I'll share the present and future
This is more like an introductory piece

So what am I all about
Well I'm just a normal girl with hopes, dreams and aspirations like everyone else
And God has blessed me abundantly cos things he brings my way I sometimes wonder if I deserve them
Its amazing hhow I'm in the medical field cos as a kid I hated hospitals, drugs and injections
I was told when my mom had my younger brother I refused to enter the hospital with my family cos I was scared of doctors and drugs and injections
I'd cry and say "I don't want to see yotor, yotor will gimme inyection"
Right now I still have a problem with needles but I'm dealing with it cos I've reached that part where I'm supposed to do stitches and give injections and see surgeries
When I watch movies and there's a shooting or stabbing, I always close my eyes cos I can't handle the jknife piercing the victim or the shooting
My brother will be like "are you sure you can handle surgeries"
And I'm like "I'll definitely not specialise in surgery"
Doctors are expected to be strong and brave
I guess that will come in due time before I finish my training
So far the journey has been good
I'm learning to build my confidence cos that is very important
As I clerk my patients I improve with time