I get a fair number of inquiries like, "How did you study for Step 1? Are there any resources you recommend? How long should I study?"
I'll give you a fair summary of my study patterns, but also realize that writing and recording my AudioQuickHitz was/is studying in itself. Recording was invaluable prep for the exams.
I didn't start thinking about Step 1 until March of my second year. I bought a 3-month subscription to Kaplan's QBank and started doing some questions in my spare time.
After second year was over, I had three weeks of dedicated Step 1 studying. During that time, I studied about ten hours per day which included recording songs and a primitive version of my AudioQuickHitz. I continued with Kaplan QBank as well and was able to finish the bank during that time.
I did not do much else besides the QBank and recording. Of course, I owned a copy of First Aid like every other schlep, but the version I had was about a year or two old. I also had an old copy of Step Up that I thumbed through.
My third year of med school was my prep for Step 2. I studied hard, highlighted my review books judiciously, and started working on my AudioQuickHitz from day one.
I also bought a USMLEWorld subscription during my medicine rotation and used it as my primary means of studying for the medicine shelf exam. I was able to complete the entire bank during my medicine and neurology rotations over a three-month period.
I took Step 2 immediately after third year ended with about ten days of dedicated study time. I used that study time to record my AudioQuickHitz for Step 2.
Resources I Like
Everyone needs a question bank. I personally preferred USMLEWorld, but I can't make an "apples to apples" comparison so to speak. I was pretty high on the Blueprints series for third year and will also give a nod to some -- but not all -- of the Pretest books.
As my friend the Wizard of Os says, "The best advice is to not take any advice during medical school and to figure out what works for you."
But here is my final thought anyways: Never go anywhere without something to read in your pocket or something informative on your MP3 player. And I'm not just talking about studying for med school. I'm talking about life. Knowledge can be gained in bits and pieces during the lulls in life: waiting for the bus, standing in line, washing your kitchen floor, etc.