|Early Career Johnite Initiative (ECJI)|
USMLE PREPARATION TIPS FROM RECENT TEST TAKERS
Greetings! I am a Johnite from the batch of 2004. Glad to be part of this brilliant initiative by the Alumni. I hope to give you an idea of how to go about studying for the USMLE Steps. I will list out in detail how I went about preparing for the Steps. Please do talk to other seniors as well because there are many different methods out there which have worked well. Listen to many seniors and make an individualized schedule. Individualized planning is most important. The following is what worked for me. I gave my Step 1 in September 2010, Step 2 CK in January 2011, and Step 2 CS in March 2011.
First, I will try to address some common initial questions.
I started to prepare for the Steps only after Internship. I was not working anywhere and could dedicate a lot of time for preparation. As far as I know, this is how it has been happening in John’s. In other colleges however, many students give their steps during MBBS (usually Step 1 in early 2nd year and Step 2 CK in 3rd year). While this is definitely possible, my personal opinion is that it is very difficult to manage MBBS exams, extra-curriculars, and research (I think research has caught on big time among students and is very important) and at the same time, get a good score in your USMLEs (you should aim for 99, it is not that difficult). If you know anyone who did manage to give the exams during MBBS and got good scores and think you can do it please do take their advice and give it a go.
To Kaplan or not to Kaplan:
This depends on a lot of factors. At Kaplan, they show lecture videos and provide notes. They also conduct good mock tests and have people to readily clear doubts about the exams, visa etc. The last time I checked (2010), they charged around Rs. 60,000 per Step (Step 1 and Step 2 CK). For this, you get a place to study and a chance to interact with other USMLE aspirants. However, if you are confident of studying yourself or if you have company for combined study and a good environment to study in, joining Kaplan may not be necessary. You will need the Kaplan notes and videos though. They are essential, especially for Step 1.
For Step 2 CS, the Review course by Kaplan in the US is highly recommended by many. It’s a 5 day course followed by a mock exam. In 2011, it was around $2400. Again, if you have a partner to practice cases with (preferably someone also preparing for the exam), it can be done without Kaplan.