With my first giant STEP behind me (pun intended) this seemed like a good time to reflect before the experience of dedicated and test become colored over by my eventual score and distant.
As those who have read some of my earlier posts know my dedicated period was a uniquely stressful time in light not only of the amount of academic material I was suddenly confronted with but also the weight of my parents’ examples and physical and emotional presence proximate to my preparation process. I want to take this opportunity to make it clear that all this was not the universally stressful and distressing process I may have portrayed in those earlier writings. By the time I ended dedicated and came close to my exam much of what I viewed as unfair expectations on the part of the testing establish and those around me had successfully converted to realizations of my growth and of the fact I had perhaps underestimated myself. There is a non-zero probability that my score will knock me back to that earlier mind frame and deep into the arms of imposter syndrome but for now, I am starting to feel a bit more suited for the path I have chosen.
Many of you are likely to also read this piece for some guidelines on preparation albeit qualified by the absence of a score from which to extrapolate. I very much took the traditionalist approach of First AID, Sketchy and UWorld as bedrocks complemented by NBME practices tests. As open and long as dedicated can seem before it starts the time flies by and so I am at least of the opinion that a few good resources are infinitely more valuable than the plethora of options available to you. Where I may differ from the mainstream is in my mild disappointment with Pathoma. I first began utilizing Pathoma to prepare for my school’s elective boards preparation course to relatively unimpressive ends. Thinking that perhaps the shorter timeframe was the primary cause of its underwhelming initial utilization I continued to use it for the first few weeks of dedicated but ultimately found it redundant with First AID and at least for me all too easy to use to give the impression of studying without the appropriate focus. For those of you who know my deep love of pathology and my undergraduate institution, these findings were doubly disappointing. Sketchy was the almost diametric opposite. I had underestimated its value thinking it would be extremely gimmicky but found it to be arguably my most valuable resource in building off the foundation laid out by First AID. While I primarily utilized Sketchy Microbiology, Sketchy Pharm also proved to be worth it as well.
Finally, some generalities. I did take a few weeks beyond my dedicated period and into my research block to run First AID one final time prior to my exam. This was largely due to the fact I started relatively weaker in terms of preclinical material than I would have liked and so wanted to be sufficiently cautious in overcoming that perceived deficit. We will see if this caution was warranted in the coming weeks. In addition, I largely studied alone at home as opposed to with peers at my institution. This is how I have always approached assessments excluding practical anatomy so obviously if yours is different go with what makes you most comfortable.
Overall and obviously Step 1 preparation will always be a stressful process and I hope my reflections are in some small way helpful to you.