The most sensible way to organize your studying is by organ block/subject. Studying an organ block should take 2-5 days usually, depending on how good you are with it and how high-yield it is (exception: you can spend significantly less time on biostatistics). Let’s break down how to study for an organ block:

  1. First Aid Overview—Skim through chapter in First Aid so you know what’s important (<30 min), Sakura Pigma pen in hand. Circle concepts that you don’t know very well.
  2. Anatomy—Cover the key anatomy quickly. I recommend going through the relevant chapter in Clinical Anatomy Made Ridiculously Simple (note: this is not sufficient for neuroanatomy; I will write a post about how to study for neuro soon). If there’s any anatomical drawings in First Aid, copy them into your notebook if you need a refresher. I tended not to use Netter’s much.
  3. Physiology—(especially important for renal)—I recommend BRS Physiology by my girl Linda Costanza. This is a shorter outline form of her Physiology textbook. I went through a few chapters in the longer-length textbook for big, high-yield organ systems where I needed it (e.g., Cardio), but it’s simply too long to go through the whole thing.
  4. Studying the organ block in-depth—Next, you’re going to want to get a meatier overview of the organ system that covers the high yield physiology, path, pharm, etc. This is where you want to bust out the greatest Step 1 book no one knows about, Crush Step 1 (post coming soon). Go through it carefully. Take notes all over it with your Sakura Pigma pens, and take notes in a notebook as well. I recommend you also go through the (short) chapter in Clinical Pathophysiology Made Ridiculously Simple if you have time. Just underline in the book; no need to take a ton of notes on it.
  5. Hit the pathology and pharm—Made sure you’re listening to my man Goljan. If you have time, you can also listen to the Pathoma lectures. Go through the Pathoma book carefully, underlining and taking notes in the margins with your Sakura Pigma pens, and watch the videos at least once, pausing to take notes or look at a table from the book as needed. For pharm, take a look at the drugs in First Aid. For most organ blocks, you’re not going to want to learn them out of First Aid though, so go through Crush Step 1 carefully to get the drugs you need. Sketchy Pharm was just coming out last year when I was studying; I recommend it if you have time, though Sketchy Micro is a lot better than Sketchy Pharm.
  6. Q-Banks and CasesToward the end of the study period, it’s time to start crushing UWorld questions (post coming soon). I always used Tutor mode, usually in blocks of 10 or 15 questions at a time. Also, I recommend going through First Aid Cases for the USMLE Step 1. If you have time, USMLE Step 1 Secrets is good for case-based learning, but it’s pretty lengthy, so I wouldn’t use it unless you really like cases.

There’s your general outline for studying an organ block. Stay tuned for posts about specific organ blocks and how to tackle them.

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