Most medical students quickly realize that it is impossible to perfectly relearn 2 year’s worth of medical school curriculum in just a few weeks of studying. This often leads to frustration and anxiety when students are preparing for the USMLE Step 1 exam. What I wish somebody would have explained to me before I took the exam is that roughly 80% of the questions come from only 20% of the material that is covered during medical school (See the Pareto Principle). You might be asking yourself “How do I know which topics are most important?” That is where the High Yield Rating (HYR) comes in. It is what sets Stomp On Step1 apart from other study aids. The HYR allows you to focus on the most important information for the exam and not get bogged down in the minutia. This allows you to reduce your level of stress and study more efficiently. You have heard of Evidence Based Medicine. With the creation of the HYR there is now “Evidence Based Studying.”
There are other study aids available that help you cut out some of the fat, but it’s not nearly enough. Even the books and videos that advertise themselves as being strictly high yield material have a ton of low yield material. It is as if the authors of these study aids tried to include every piece of information that could possibly end up on the test. That may seem intuitive, but given that the test is not open book and that memorizing all of that material is unrealistic, it is not an effective way to study for the Step 1 exam. I am not suggesting completely ignoring lower yield material. Some of the low yield material for the exam is high yield for clerkship rotations and your future career. I am advising you to first focus your efforts on higher yield material and then work your way down to the lower yield material. You don’t want to “waste” a bunch of time studying stuff that is unlikely to end up on the exam and then run out of time before you cover the most important concepts.
The High Yield Rating (HYR) is a scale from 0 to 10 that gives you a rough estimate for how important each topic is for the USMLE Step 1 exam. Focusing your efforts on the higher yield topics will “yield” you more correct answers for a given amount of time studying. A HYR of 1 means there is about a 10% chance of seeing a question on that topic on Step 1. A rating of 5 means you have roughly a 50% chance of seeing a question on that topic on your exam. A HYR of 10 means you are probably going to see more than one question related to that topic on the USMLE Step 1 Medical Board Exam.
How is the High Yield Rating Calculated
You may be wondering how the HYR is “calculated.” It is a pseudo-scientific calculation that takes into account my experience with the test, my friends’/classmates’ experiences and the USMLE content outline. But the biggest factor in determining the HYR is how often each topic appears on practice exams. This includes the National Board of Medical Examiners Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessments (AKA retired Step 1 questions) and various other question banks that are commercially available. I have painstakingly gone through thousands of questions and counted by hand how many questions are related to each topic. I weigh questions from certain sources a bit more than others, and then do some math to convert that number into a percent chance of seeing the topic on the exam.
I hope over time YOU will help contribute to the HYR also. After you take the exam I hope you return to the website and use the comment section or the Contact Us page to let us know which topics’ High Yield Rating need to be modified. If there is a topic that I say is really low yield and you get five questions on it, let me know. The same goes for topics that I say are high yield and fail to show up on your exam. With the help of those that use this material we will be able to fine tune the HYR over time.
The HYR is not exact by any means. There is no way to know exactly what is on the exam and virtually any material covered in medical school is fair game for the exam. You are also guaranteed to see some low yield material on your exam and have high yield material that is completely left off of your test. Additionally, the content of the USMLE Step 1 exam is always being changed/updated so basing the HYR rating on retired questions and student’s past experiences does have some limitations. BUT just because figuring out how high yield topics are isn’t 100% accurate doesn’t mean you should disregard studying efficiently all together.
Now that you understand what the High Yield Rating is you should check out my Comprehensive List of HYRs. This is a list of all of the topics I have covered so far in my videos ranked from highest yield to lowest yield.