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How do I study biochem?

Activity Forums USMLE Step 1 Forum How do I study biochem?

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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    First things first, Step 1 biochem IS NOT pre-med biochem. There are some little areas of overlap, like molecular biochemistry, but FA Step 1 is much more clinical. It’s less important that you memorize TCA cycle substrates and enzymes than that you memorize which enzymes require co-factors in which someone could be deficient. So here are a few suggestions:
    1) Zanki “Vitamins” deck within Zanki Biochemistry is a great way to learn the vitamin deficiencies, which basically require memorization. Otherwise, I actually did not find Anki very helpful for biochem. See 2-4 for what I did instead.
    2) Any time I came across a new pathway in FA or in a UWorld answer explanation, I would draw it out.
    3) Whenever I learned about a drug affecting a pathway, or a disease corresponding to a pathway defect, I would update my drawing, showing where the drug or disease came into the picture.
    4) I would then spend 30-45min each day reviewing the annotated pathways (and I would review/re-annotate them whenever they came up in a question I got wrong).

    Why I prefer this to flashcards: I find visual cues and integration really helpful in memorization, and I found that this approach worked for me. For instance, it allowed me to tie in the physiology of fat digestion and storage with the pathology of familial dyslipidemias, and the pharmacology of cholesterol lowering medications. It also helped me understand why a B12 deficiency leads to both MMA and homocysteine build-up (methionine cycle + odd-chain fatty acid metabolism) while folate deficiency only leads to homocysteine build-up (methionine cycle). These facts can otherwise be easy to forget, so having a framework to fall back-on during the heat of testing can be very helpful.

    Comment below with any questions/thoughts/etc.!

    Dan S., USMLE Tutor, Med School Tutors

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