How To Get The Most Out of First Aid?

First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 is one of the most popular sources for Step 1. It helped so many medical students to pass the board. Now if you read many forums and blogs people might have different opinions.

But, you have to realize that First Aid improved so much over the years and now it is pretty much a complete guide to pass the board. So if someone said that First Aid is not enough, then you should ask when they took the exam. Maybe, that person took the exam awhile back when First Aid wasn’t complete.

But I can tell you that First Aid was enough for me to score high on the board. Here are the answers to some of the questions you guys asked me:

How many times should you read First Aid?

If First Aid is the only source that you are using then you should be reading it at least 5 to 7 times during your overall preparation time. Remember, you can never go wrong with First Aid. My preparation heavily depended on First Aid and it helped me to score high on the Step 1.

How long should you take to go over the entire First Aid?

It really depends on your reading speed. The first time when I read First Aid it took me around 21 days to read the entire book. But if you keep on read it over and over you will be able to finish it in 8 to 10 days. Now, I will warn you that first few times it might not make sense but as you keep on reading it you will be able to connect the dots and enjoy reading it.

Two weeks before the exam First Aid or USMLE World?

I personally stopped USMLE World two weeks before the exam and just focused on First Aid. You should be finish your last reading of the entire book 2 days before the exam. And just go over the high yield materials that requires memorization on the last two days.

What to read during the last month if you used sources other than First Aid for preparation?

Honestly, if you read any other sources like Kaplan or Goljan for preparation, you should stop reading them on your last month and just focus on First Aid. It will help you to maximize your point. So even if you read some other sources make sure at least on your last month you read First Aid. It also gives so many clues and mnemonics.

Is First Aid Enough?

Yes it is enough if you use it with USMLE World. Make sure you write down any material from the USMLE World that is not on the First Aid. This way you wouldn’t miss any important points. Now don’t write the entire explanation from the UW. Just write down the important clues that guide you to the right answer. And read them over and over while going over First Aid.

Is First Aid For USMLE Step 1 Enough?

I get this question a lot from my friends who are taking or planning to take USMLE Step 1. And I am sure some of you who are planning to take USMLE Step 1 also have the same question.

Here is your answer to this question. First Aid for USMLE Step 1 is enough depending on the strength of your basic science’s background. If you had a very good basic sciences background then First Aid is enough.

But, if you are like me, who had a very weak background in basic sciences then there are little tweaking that you need to do to get the maximum score possible.

When I took the exam, I realized that almost 80% of the materials were from First Aid. Some of the questions were straight recalls and others were little tricky but you can easily find them on First Aid.

So what’s the trick to get a very good score with First Aid?

To answer that question I will use myself as an example. I was very weak in anatomy, biochemistry, genetics and neurology. When I started with USMLE World, I kept on getting questions wrong on those. It kind of got me mad at one point.

Here is what I did to master those:

  • For Anatomy – I watched the Kaplan videos. I didn’t read the lecture notes. It was way too much to read. I just watched the videos. Make sure you only watch the “Gross Anatomy” section. That old guy in the video is absolutely amazing. I think he is my favorite kaplan lecturer. He saved my life with anatomy. I can guarantee you that after watching the Gross Anatomy Videos from Kaplan you will never get a single anatomy question wrong.
  • For Biochemistry & Genetics – I watched the video and read the kaplan lecture notes on biochemistry. Now, I did this in the beginning of my preparation. You just need to read the lecture notes and watch the videos once and then you can go back to First Aid Biochemistry section till you take the exam. I will say even if you are good in biochemistry still go back and watch the kaplan videos and read the lecture note on biochemistry. It’s a must!
  • For Neurology – I used to hate neuroanatomy and neurology because I kept on getting UW questions wrong. And I get fed up of that. So what I did was, I read the high yield neuroanatomy book front to back once. It was quick. I think it took only three days to read it. After that I never got a neuroanatomy question wrong. I also used few videos from this website to master few concepts in neuroanatomy (Opthalmology).
After mastering those three sections, I would say First Aid was enough for me. So, to answer this question if FA is enough or not, I will say study your weak areas from a different sources or videos and then come back to First Aid and USMLE World. That should get you a very high score!

Don’t forget to repeat USMLE World three times before taking the exam. Good Luck to you all!