Step 1 prep: Advice from an MS3

Kelsey Yenney is an MS3 who recently passed the USMLE Step 1 Exam. She was kind enough to share some of what she learned during her pre-dedicated study time. We thank Kelly Trowbridge for facilitating this blog post!

  • UWorld

    What I did: Answered 40–80 questions per week during pre-dedicated study time. I went into dedicated study time having 23% of UWorld finished (I took Step 1 having done just 65% of the QBank).

    What I’d do differently: I’d probably try to do more UWorld questions per week before dedicated study time, but I did what life allowed while trying to balance everything.

Pace yourself

Do not burn out prior to your dedicated study time!

  • Sketchy Micro/Anki

    What I did: I watched the videos based on my schedule. I used Anki decks that correlated with the Sketchy videos I had watched. I did no more than 30 minutes of Anki a day during pre-dedicated study time. Micro questions are easy points! Between the Sketchy videos + Anki, it took maybe 45–60 minutes 4 times a week.

  • Pathoma, chapters 1–3

    What I did: I watched the videos at least 3 times each. Spaced them out over pre-dedicated and dedicated study time. Again . . . easy points that are hard to “think yourself to the answer” if you don’t know it.

    When watching Pathoma, it follows the Pathology tab in First Aid—take notes in First Aid while watching the video. For memorization-heavy topics, I added them to an Anki deck. Again, no more than 30–60 minutes of Anki a day . . . even in the heights of dedicated study time. I didn’t buy Pathoma, but found the videos online for free. 😊


I’ve included the schedule I made for my pre-dedicated study time. The first three tabs are how I tackled Sketchy Micro, Pathoma (chapters 1–3), and UWorld questions. The remaining tabs are master lists that could be used to make detailed study plans for those additional topics/resources.

Just do it!

While question banks help with concepts/topics, they also help with time management and understanding what the question is asking. Most of the answers will correlate to a certain diagnosis. So, for example, if you know Reed-Sternberg cells = Hodgkin lymphoma, then you can get rid of that answer if the question is clearly talking about the nervous system.


You don’t need to know everything, every little detail. But you do need to know a little bit about a lot of things. Focus on big concepts and connections between systems.

One last thing

You are not defined by this test, and one day, it will be in your past!
Keep your eyes on that prize.

Other posts to help you prepare for the Step 1 exam

Step 2 Prep: Resources and tips

You got through Step 1: the most daunting exam you have ever had to study and sit for. You are elated . . . until you realize that Step 2 is right around the corner—and panic begins to set in. Fear not!


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