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Medical School Examinations

I've included all the board exams I've taken thus far with the following resources I used for each one (the shelf exams are included for each core rotation) listed here. Feel free to contact me if you want a more detailed study schedule, need help in this area, or have a question about what I used while studying for my exams!

1. Comprehensive Basic Science Examination (need to take this before being able to schedule Step 1)

  • UWorld (was 25% in the Qbank)

  • I had a notebook and for each block of questions, I wrote down which ones I got wrong, why I got it wrong as well as the questions I got correct especially if I didn't know why

  • Practice NBME exams

  • Total study time: 3 months 


2. USMLE Step 1 (study time: 2 months)

  • Continued UWorld QBank and completed another round (incorrects) 

  • Completed Kaplan QBank once

  • Completed USMLERx once

  • Practice Exams 

    • After scheduling my exam date, I made sure to take a practice exam every week on the same day and time (simulating the exam) to practice​

    • UWorld Self Assessments 1 and 2 (most similar to the question difficulty) 

    • Kaplan Diagnostic Exam

    • Kaplan Practice Exam 

    • FreeUSMLE (most similar to the exam software)

  • Reviewed weakest subjects the most: Embryology, Physiology (used Kaplan and BRS), Biostatistics (UWorld Biostatistics Review) 

    • I ended up still putting things I forgot so quickly at the top of my dry erase board during the exam (Physio and Biostatistics formulas as well as embryological derivatives) so I wouldn't forget ​

  • Step 1 Anki Deck - Zanki or Brosencephalon

  • Total study time: 2 months 

3. Comprehensive Clinical Science Examination (need to take this before being able to schedule Step 2 CK and CS)

*this rule has changed after my year - students are able to schedule CS without having to take the CCSE as long as they take CS prep during their 5th core and take the Kaplan Practice CS Exam during their 6th core 

  • UWorld QBank

  • Retook and reviewed all the NBME subject exams (IM, OB-GYN, Psych, Peds, Surgery) 

  • Total study time: 2.5 months 


4. USMLE Step 2 CK  

  • Completed UWorld QBank twice 

  • Completed Kaplan QBank once

  • Completed all Subject Assessment tests on Kaplan to work on my weak subjects 

  • Used Step up to Medicine for IM review and all my notes I took for each rotation 

  • Used Step 2 Anki Deck - Zanki

    • Reviewed flashcards during my non practice exam days, breaks, in bed, etc. ​

  • Practice Exams

    • Similar plan to Step 1 - after scheduling my exam date, I made sure to take a practice exam every week on the same day to simulate the exam ​

    • UWorld Self Assessments #1 and #2 

    • Kaplan Diagnostic Exam 

    • Kaplan Full Length Exam #1

    • Kaplan Full Length Exam #2 

    • FreeUSMLE (most similar to exam software) 

  • Total study time: 2 months​

5. USMLE Step 2 CS

  • Kaplan online CS course

    • Required (or a CS prep course approved by the school) ​

  • Kaplan Practice CS Exam (need to complete in order to schedule exam) 

    • Required - only one day ​

  • First Aid for CS

    • I read the entire book​

    • I completed about 10-15 cases per day 

    • I reviewed all the differential diagnoses when given a chief complaint

    • I made an excel sheet of each case and what points I had missed 

  • Kaplan CS​

    • I used their mnemonics so I wouldn't forget important points to ask during the exam (given the book during prep course) ​

  • Practice

    • I did not have a practice partner so I called friends and they helped me ​

    • I used the NYCS prep timer to make sure I did not go over my time

    • I used this site to practice writing my patient note which is simulated like CS 

    • I also reviewed the CS video from the USMLE website (see below) 

  • T/T​

    • Always counsel even if they have nothing wrong (they don't smoke, they eat healthy, etc. Maybe suggest a screening or getting enough sleep or something)​

    • When doing your patient note, start all the way at the bottom and work your way to the top. Most people forget to scroll all the way down and miss the Differential Diagnosis and Work up portions of the note. 

  • Exam site: Houston 

  • Total study time: 2 weeks 

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Kandria Ledesma, MD

Emergency Medicine resident

NJ -> Antigua -> NY -> CA

Medicine, Running, Birds, Plants, Food, Dinos 


Dino of the Month: Carnotaurus

Plant of the Month: Nepenthes Attenboroughii

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