Many students use a qbank to help quiz themselves prior to taking USMLE Step 1. The most popular ones I know of are Kaplan Qbank, USMLEWorld, and USMLERx (by the writers of First Aid for the USMLE Step 1). The tip below will work with any of these, but since I used Kaplan Qbank, I'll use it as an example. This post is not intended to be a full Kaplan QBank review, but more of a guide on how to get the most out of the qbank.
The Kaplan Qbank contains roughly 2200 questions in 50 question blocks. The blocks can be taken according to subject, or with the questions in random order. For Step 1, be aware that the questions will be in random order. Each 50 block section must be completed in one hour, as is the case with the USMLE Step 1 blocks. Some people preferred to study a subject, and then do review questions on that topic. I preferred to do random question blocks, as it simulated the real test, and helped me keep touch with older material. I also worried that doing subject blocks would give me a false sense of security, since I had just studied that same material.
Regardless of your study style, the key here is to budget an extra 60 to 90 minutes for each block after you complete it. Don't just look at your score, but instead, take the time to look at the detailed explanations for each question regardless of whether you got it correct or not! Then, make sure to annotate First Aid for the USMLE Step 1! This is KEY! Doing so diligently every day that you study will give you a comprehensive review guide by the time the your USMLE Step 1 exam date rolls around. Furthermore, if you store tidbits of information in one place, it makes it MUCH easier to look up later. Otherwise, you will waste a lot of time trying to review information in multiple resources. Think about it: by the time you get through all your studying for Step 1, you will have consulted at least 3 books frequently, and probably 7-10 more books as well. How will you remember where that crucial explanation was written? Ah! If you had just written it down in First Aid, you'd know where it is!
Hope that helps! If you don't have a QBank already, check out the Kaplan QBank Challenge, which is a set of sample questions:
In my next post, I will address the pros and cons of the two qbanks I had direct experience with, Kaplan Qbank and USMLE World. Got any other tips for USMLE Step 1 or using qbanks?