To help our customers apply successful study strategies to studying for the USMLE Step 1, we interviewed some Cram Fighter customers who already took their board exams. Previously, we spoke with with Anthony W. from NYITCOM, who achieved a 242 on Step 1, and Cooper S., a med student from the class of 2020 at Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. Our third interview, with Greg, from Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, is below, and covers his experience studying for the COMLEX Level 1.

What resources did you use for COMLEX Level 1 and how effective were they?

My resources included Cram Fighter, Pathoma, First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, Boards and Beyond, Comquest, OMT Review, and a little bit of UWorld. I also took two practice COMLEX exams (COMSAEs).

I think I learned a lot about my study habits and preferences throughout the process—which leads me to my first bit of advice: start early. I noticed myself tweaking how many resources I was using and how I was utilizing those resources (i.e. reading, listening, watching, or actively taking notes, etc.). I quickly learned that I preferred watching resources (Pathoma and Boards and Beyond) while annotating the Pathoma or First Aid books. And by starting to study early, I was able to make adjustments to my resources and study schedules without stressing out.

My decision to use Cram Fighter was one of those adjustments. Prior to Cram Fighter, I had a spreadsheet with my resources deconstructed and scheduled out. But it became too difficult to manage that schedule and simultaneously effectively study. I was wasting way too much time micromanaging, and not enough time with the materials themselves.

What went well during your preparation and what would you have done differently?

There is not too much that I would change in my preparation for Level 1—hitting your goal score can do that! Perhaps I would have probably purchased and utilized Cram Fighter earlier on so that I could have been better organized and ultimately wasted less time in those initial study months.

Prior to Cram Fighter, I had a spreadsheet with my resources deconstructed and scheduled out. But it became too difficult to manage that schedule and simultaneously effectively study. I was wasting way too much time micromanaging, and not enough time with the materials themselves.

Do you have any advice for students taking these exams who also want to reach their goals?

Plenty! Choose your resources wisely. There are hundreds of question banks and study resources out there—you just cannot use them all. Trial the resources if you have the option to, and pick the 3 to 5 resources that work best for you. Try not to be influenced entirely by your peers. Just because a particular resource is popular, does not necessarily mean that it is the best resource for your learning style or goals.

Another piece of advice that I have is to stick to a routine—Cram Fighter helps a lot with this! A routine meant getting up at the same time to study every day, studying with classmates, and using the same study spaces.

How did you know that the resources you chose fit your learning style and goals?

I didn’t necessarily know which resources would immediately fit my learning style, but I benefited from watching Boards and Beyond rather than just reading First Aid in order to best process the material. Same for Pathoma—I got more out of watching the videos repetitively rather than just reading the Pathoma book. As for choosing the resources in the first place, I would say that I was influenced by peers and predecessors, who told me what had worked for them.

Another piece of advice that I have is to stick to a routine—Cram Fighter helps a lot with this! A routine meant getting up at the same time to study every day, studying with classmates, and using the same study spaces.

Are there any pitfalls that you’ve noticed with resource usage or resource selection when students are studying for Level 1?

I would say that sometimes people feel pressured into using the “most popular” resources. There are plenty of solid reasons why that might be the case, generally, those that use particular popular resources get good results. But in my experience, the more popular resources tend to be incredibly expensive. Whereas there are similar, if not better, resources for a fraction of the cost.

Thank you, Greg, for sharing these insights about studying for the COMLEX Level 1!

To try Cram Fighter yourself, sign up for a free 7-day trial and create your own schedule. Or download one of our free sample USMLE Step 1 study schedules.