Finding the perfect resources that best prepare you for the USMLE Step 2 and 3 can be challenging. There are endless options. However, there is only one combination that truly can provide lasting effects and result in success at the end. If you find yourself struggling with picking the best resources to use as you begin your year, or aren’t happy with what you’re doing now, check out our four favorites below!
The first resource you can use is a book.— USMLE prep books come in different types, each more detailed than the next:
These books are good for engaging your memory by taking advantage of repetition and exercising your retention. Some examples are First Aid and Step Up, and OnlineMedEd’s version, Quicktables. To differentiate the three, Quicktables is basically our entire core content condensed into tables. First Aid and Step Up are great frameworks filled with collections of mnemonics and high yield facts. Review books are the kind of thing you want to use to jog your mind, not completely learn something all over again.
These take narrative forms, and include full sentences, pictures, and diagrams. Here at OnlineMedEd, reading books are presented as “Notes,” which are used to help you get acquainted with the information before you go on to learn it. There is also a type of book you should never use: oversized medical reference books. Go ahead and do yourself a favor by crossing out these giant books from your list. Unless you want to bore your team with way too much information, and words that only specialists understand, reference books are a NO GO.
The next resource you can use is a lecture, and there are two kinds:
These lectures are the same kind you experienced in your undergrad. Even though the content has changed, they’re still just as hard to get through. The lights turn off and in comes the hour-long slideshow; it’s the same old thing you’re used to. Unless you have a talent for staying focused and attentive during these (and staying off your phone), you should probably cross this one off the list, too.
The best thing about these at OnlineMedEd (other than the fact that they’re free), is that they come in the form of videos so you can start, rewind, or even fast-forward as many times as you need. The audio/visual aspect of the online lectures also nicely complements the notes that you just read.
I’m sure you saw this one coming, but another good resource to use is practice questions.
I’m not talking about your typical “what are the side effects of [insert medical problem here].” I’m talking about everybody’s favorite third-order questions: USMLE vignettes. A typical example of this kind of question could include first reading a paragraph and making a diagnosis, then figuring out what the best next step is. At OnlineMedEd we’ve gathered questions of this type in the Qbank.
One of the last resources we recommend are flashcards.
Flashcards are similar to review books in the sense that they’re great for solidifying information or helping you remember things. When it comes to learning new material though, they’re not so great.
The accumulation of all of these resources equals P.A.C.E.—prime, acquire, challenge, and enforce. You prime by reading the notes, acquire by watching the lecture videos, challenge by completing the Qbank, and enforce by using QuickTables. Although you may have already tried some or all of these resources before, using them all together with PACE is a whole different experience, and can lead to an entirely new outcome. What are some of your favorite resources to use? Let us know in the comments below!