First Aid Annotations from Kaplan Q Bank or UMSLE World

The following question was posed on our chat recently. You may have the same question on your mind.


Annotating First Aid is definitely high yield and essential to proper board preparation, especially information gained from your question bank. It is best to make supplementary notes on material that seems to be especially relevant and high yield. Do not waste time taking notes on some trivia from the annals of the deepest part of the library, even if a question shows up in your Question Bank. In addition, make annotations on topics that you have difficulty understanding with the minimal information given in First Aid, which is presented in a high yield, but abbreviated outline format.

Making additional notes in First Aid is time consuming, but worth every minute. When you are annotating, you are learning, especially if you are adding the information in your own words. Interacting with the information now, at this level, may be the last time you need to go over this particular subject matter. Another plus is when you go back through the material for daily or weekly quick reviews, it is right there in one place and you do not have to waste time going between resources. Even though it is time consuming, the energy spent is for a critical exam that can define your success in medicine.

However, it is good to know that students have some options to annotating First Aid when using a Question Bank in the preparation for boards:

You can annotate the questions you miss, rather than all of the questions.
A shorter way to annotate, but perhaps a less effective learning method, is to print out the explanations to the questions you miss in your Kaplan QBank (or USMLE World) and put them in a notebook to go back and study again and again. This may not be as effective a learning tool as annotating by hand. It is important question to ask yourself, "How much learning is occurring during annotation?" Annotation is supposed to be a learning process in and of itself, as discussed above. If you are not learning while annotating, then print the explanations and put them in a notebook to study later.
The details in the explanations are an important component of your preparation for boards, but if you are getting burnt out or running out of time, then move to the ReKaps available in the Kaplan QBank. These are shorter explanations with page references to First Aid. One of the best ways to use the ReKaps is to figure out what your weakest areas are and use the more detailed explanations for your weak areas (for example, biochem and micro) and the ReKaps for your stronger areas where you have a solid foundation but need to build continued strength.

Work smart, work hard. If you do both, the payoff will be great. Too many shortcuts will be evident in your Step 1 score and will translate into "weaker applicant" when applying for residency.

One Response to “First Aid Annotations from Kaplan Q Bank or UMSLE World”

  1. Sid says:

    Is it possible to print out questions from World? The website said any printing is strictly prohobited.

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