How to Plan Your Step 1 Preparations (2012 Course)

                Hi Students,
 PlanWe have been receiving requests from students recently asking how to best utilize their Step 1 study resources in conjunction with the 2012 Doctors In Training Step 1 Review Course.  After speaking with the advising team, here are the key points you should consider when planning your Step 1 studies.
Getting Started with Board Prep While Still in Your Classes
  • While you are still concentrating on your medical school curriculum, annotate your comprehensive review book, such as First Aid, as you go through your course work. Divide the total number of pages by the number of days until your study period begins to establish how many pages you need to read.
  • Take an NBME practice exam 2-3 months prior to your intensive study period to establish a baseline and determine your weak areas. You may need to do additional preparation with topic-specific review books in certain areas in which you need to strengthen your foundation.
How to Use the DIT Part 1 Questions and Video Answers
There are several ways to use the DIT Part 1 Questions and Video Answers that begin arriving to your dashboard in January and continue through May. These questions are open-ended questions that are focus on high yield topics for Step 1.

Method 1: Do a Few Questions Each Day Starting 5-6 months prior to your exam date 


  • If you begin studying 5-6 months prior to your start date using the Part 1 questions, the recommended method for using the Part 1 Questions is to divide them up as they arrive to your dashboard and do an equal number each evening. For example, if you are receiving them twice a week, on Monday and Thursday, you can answer 5 questions on your own each day or night outside of class.
  • First challenge yourself by attempting to answer the question on your own or writing out what you do know about the topic. Then, refer to the resources suggested with the questions to locate the answers and annotate your comprehensive review book.
  • At the end of the week, view the video answers for the week and further annotate your review book.
Method 2: Start Early but Save the Questions for a Weekend at the End of Each Month


  • As you will soon realize, the Part 1 questions are posted by mixed subjects so you get used to being able to switch your thought processes from subject to subject, similar to the actual board exam. This is similar to how you should approach your question bank; in timed mixed mode. However, if this method is too uncomfortable for you at this time in your preparations, then you can save the Part 1 questions until the end of the month.
  • Set aside a Saturday or Sunday to do the Part 1 questions that are relevant to the courses you have already covered in your curriculum and the chapters you have reviewed in your comprehensive review book for Step 1.
  • Also view the video answers and annotate your main review book. Be sure to tag the questions you have not yet covered and save those for the when all of the questions are posted at the end May and your coursework is completed.
  • You can take a weekend to cover any questions you have not covered in past months.
Method 3: Take a Weekend as an Additional Review & Last Annotation Before Starting Part 2


  • If you have answered all of the Part 1 questions at this point in your preparation, if you have saved them to the end, or if you have not had an opportunity to begin working through the Part 1 questions,  Method 3 will work well for you. The Part 1 questions make a wonderful active learning exercise before beginning the next phase of the course.
    • Get with a study group or study partner and try to answer as many of the questions as you can again over the weekend to see how your knowledge based has improved over the past few months and then view all of the video answers again before starting the next portion of the course.
Method 4: If You Begin Part 1 and Part 2 at the same time (If you Only Have 5-6 Weeks to Prepare)


  • If you only have 5-6 weeks to study and begin the Part 2 within a few days or a week of purchase, the Part 1 questions can be used as a mini review or preview to Part 2.
  • If you have already read through First Aid or another comprehensive high yield board review book, then take a day and do all of the questions on your own. It will most likely take an entire day, if not two to complete all of this exercise.
  • Next, refer to the answers in the references given if you have the referenced book cited with the question (no need to purchase the cited books as they are most likely in your school library on campus and will be addressed in video answers).
  • Annotate your First Aid or the comprehensive board review book you are using and view the video answers provided.
Using Your Question Bank
  • It is essential that you complete your question bank. Student success has been closely linked with completing a question bank with approximately 2,000 questions. There has been an increase in frequency of students using more than one question bank for reaching scores of 240 or above. Highly successful students have also been reaching top scores by resetting and repeating a question bank after an initial completion.
  • Studying the explanations to the questions is an essential component of your preparation; so do not make the mistake of just doing the questions.
  • Make a schedule that works for you and stick with it.
  • Most of the question banks for Step 1 will be set up such that you can take your practice quizzes in Subject Mode or Mixed Mode. It is to most students’ benefit to do their question banks in timed, mixed mode and to complete the entire question bank before taking their board exam.
  • Typically, you will also be able to set your quizzes in blocks of 46 questions and be able to break them down into smaller quizzes and still keep them in timed mode.
How to use the Part 2 Lectures 
  • The Part 2 Lectures are divided into approximately 148 separate lectures that average 33 minutes in length, for greater retention and maximum flexibility.
  • We recommend that you view the video lectures in the order that they are provided as the quizzes have been carefully placed to maximize retention; however, you may view the video lectures in any order you please.
  • The course comes with 30 days of continuous, unlimited access. Below you will see examples of 12, 15, 19, 21 and 25 day plans. Some students prefer to spend 6-7 hours a day viewing the video lectures so they can complete the course in 13 days and go on to completing a question bank or focusing on deep learning of the material they have harvested from the DIT course. Others prefer to take more time going through the videos, especially if they have not had the opportunity to do any board preparation prior to starting the DIT course.
  • The 12, 15, and 19 day plans are suggested for students that have completed First Aid or another comprehensive review book prior to beginning Part 2 of the DIT Step 1 Review Course. This allows the student to go through the course very quickly with maximum effectiveness taking notes without rewinding or frequent interruptions of the video lectures to annotate their notes. It also assumes that the student does not need to preview their comprehensive review books such as First Aid prior to the next day’s lecture material to keep up, allowing him/her more time to do questions in their question bank.
  • If you are a student that has experienced a traditional curriculum and has developed a solid foundation during your basic sciences, then you may prefer the shorter plans. This is especially true if your school has given you a 5-6 week study period to prepare before beginning your 3rd year clinical clerkship experiences.
  • The 15 or 19 day plan will allow you to view several lectures in the morning and then free up time to do question bank questions in the afternoon. In the evening, you can choose to review what you have gone over in that day’s course lectures, do more question bank questions, or preview the course material for the next day.
The Last Week Before Your Exam
  • In the last week before your Step 1 exam, it is a good idea to continue to do question bank questions just to keep in practice.
  • It should be your goal to complete your question bank at least 1 week prior to testing and then keep doing questions and continue practice doing questions the last week before your exam. This will continue your learning and keep your test taking rhythm going.
  • Most students perform best sitting for their exam within 5-10 days of completion of the DIT course. However, students who are not scoring in the passing range on CBSSA exams in the last week prior to sitting for Step 1 should postpone and continue to study.
  • Concentrate your studies on your annotated First Aid or high yield review book the week prior to your exam if you have completed your question bank. Knowing this information extremely well will help you make the best educated choices when taking your exam.
Additional Notes for Studying for Step 1
You will find some of the areas discussed in greater detail from past and future blog posts.  Here are a few below:
  • For 10 General Suggestions to Study for Step 1 go to Dr. Mancuso’s blog article click here.
  • For Dr. Mancuso’s article on how to reason through your Step 1 questions click here.
  • For Dr. Mancuso’s article: “A Cheat Sheet to Answering Step 1 Questions” click here.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply