Audio Learning for Step 1

The beauty of listening to audio to study for the boards is that it unlocks several hours of “studying time” previously unavailable to you. Your mileage may vary though, as you must be a good auditory learner for this to work.

Personally, I listened while…

  • Walking
  • Doing dishes or other chores around the house
  • Getting dressed
  • Working out

This allowed me to reclaim at least an hour every day of lost time and use it for studying. I found listening while walking a familiar route to be the most memorable, as I found myself associating certain facts with certain locations on my route, making it easier to remember them.

I recommend downloading a bunch of podcasts on your phone or iPod, getting a good pair of headphones with a “remote” button on the wire that lets you play and pause the music, and listening at 1.6x speed or so.

I used the following sources:

  • Pathoma audio. Some say that you can scour the underpants of the internet to find it. Pathoma is certainly worth buying, however, as the book and the video lectures are essential for boards studying.
  • Goljan audio. Ed Goljan, MD (a.k.a. Poppie) is a hilarious hematopathologist who is straight out of Brooklyn. Several years ago, he gave a series of boards review lectures to an international audience. Someone recorded them, and they are available for download at the following link: Goljan Lectures.* Here’s a backup. Goljan does a good job at complementing Pathoma and focusing on a few slightly different topics. He also blends in more material about clinical management. Additionally, whereas Sattar is “just the facts, ma’am” in Pathoma (aside from a few mnemonics), Goljan’s podcast is chock full of funny anecdotes and mnemonics, making it quite entertaining. You’ll hear tons of stories about his grandkids, and about crapping on someone’s lawn during a marathon race, among other old yarns. Though the material is becoming a bit dated, the fundamentals don’t change, and Goljan is a master teacher.

    “Swolljan” about to school an overconfident student in arm wrestling.
  • Audio from your school. If you have podcasts available, use them! I downloaded several from mine; I will look into the copyright situation to see if I can make them available here.

Enjoy the extra hours you now have to study thanks to audio learning!

*I found this link thanks to, which hasn’t been updated since 2015 but has a lot of good articles to help you choose a speciality.

How ignoring First Aid helped me get a great Step 1 score (the “Screw First Aid” study plan)

The “Screw First Aid” Step 1 Study plan

What is the role of First Aid when you’re prepping for the boards?  While First Aid is essential for your preparation, it is merely a list of facts you should know for the boards.  That’s it.  Don’t spend your days poring over it.  Consider it a guide that tells you what you should know.  It can also serve in a limited capacity as a review book and occasionally provides a helpful mnemonic for learning something.  Since it is a review book, you cannot expect it to teach you anything effectively.  Consequently, here’s how to get the most out of First Aid:

During MS1 and MS2, consider skimming the relevant portion of First Aid during each course.  It should take you <30 minutes.  This will orient you to what’s important to know for the boards during your courses.  It’s not a big deal if you forget to do this; I only did it for a few courses and still did well.  A 2-year-old old edition will suffice for this purpose

During your step 1 study period:

  • Have the FedEx store hole punch your copy of the latest edition.  Then buy a three-ring binder and stick it in there.  Also, buy one of those folders that has three prongs in the middle.  Store the chapter of First Aid you’re currently studying in that folder; now you can bring it everywhere.
  • By the Sakura Pigma pens in a few colors.  These are great for writing on the glossy paper used in First Aid and in the GREATEST STEP 1 PREP BOOK THAT NO ONE’S HEARD OF (post coming soon). You can buy them from Amazon or Blick.
  • Skim the relevant chapter of First Aid before you start reviewing each subject.  Take notes/underline quickly if you like.  Spend <30 minutes on this.
  • At the end of your review of each subject, go back through First Aid, underlining/highlighting/taking notes more thoroughly.  Make sure you know what’s in there; otherwise, stop and look up what you’re missing. Make a flash card if there’s something you can’t seem to remember.  Spend about an hour (up to 2 for long chapters) on this.
  • Use the rapid review/high-yield associations at the back of the book in the final few days.

You need to remember that First Aid doesn’t really teach you any concepts, nor does it contain all of the information you need to know to slay the boards.  While it’s important, don’t over-emphasize First Aid and don’t spend more than a few hours per block total on it.