Sunday, November 1, 2009

Board Review

As we move forward into our last block of the semester, we often consider the inevitable board exam following our second year of medical school. For those of us who have not already started preparing, there are some very useful tools and programs available to make the most of time and resources.

Step 1 Board Exam Preparation

Whether you prefer reading from a book, listening to a lecturer, or answering thousands of practice questions, this is one test you have to prepare for well in advance. Some of the representatives of the programs have visited our school to share information, but it is important to know what fits you.

Below I have compiled a list of recommended review materials (and pricing when available) from those who have been through the process. As is often the case, the sales happen early, so do not wait too long to make your purchase. If you have suggestions, please leave a comment for others to read.


Review Courses
  • Doctors In Training - ($700) They are inexpensive, send bi-weekly emails with topics and have a three week online review. The price is lower because they do not include a question bank and use the First Aid book as their text.
  • Kaplan - The old standard that provides excessive information at a high price. They offer practice exams, a question bank, and review sessions.
  • Northwestern - ($400-$1500) Their emphasis is on COMLEX preparation, but they offer USMLE options. Pricing varies on supplies and package purchased. They offer a range of high yield courses or extended two week sessions.
Question Banks (Discounted prices are often available if purchased early)
  • COMQUEST - ($75-$350) COMLEX oriented with 30-365 day subscriptions
  • Combank - ($89-$389) COMLEX oriented with 30-360 day subscriptions
  • USMLE World - ($99-$399) USMLE format with 30-360 day subscriptions; 2,000+ questions
  • USMLE Rx - ($99-$199) USMLE style from the authors of First Aid offering 1 and 3 month subscriptions or until you pass; 3,000+ questions
  • Kaplan - COMLEX and USMLE questions
  • Northwestern - ($75-$145) COMLEX and USMLE questions with 1-6 month subscriptions
Board Prep Question of the Week

A 58 year old man presents with a past medical history of hypertension presents with a cough. The medical team suspects that the cough is due to one of his antihypertensive medications. Which of the following is a characteristic of the best alternative drug for this patient?

A. Interference with binding of angiotensin I
B. Interference with binding of angiotensin II
C. Reduction of serum angiotensin II levels
D. Decreased production of a key enzyme produced in the lungs
E. None of the above

Answer & Explanation


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