How Do Students Use Picmonic with QBanks?

How Do Students Use Picmonic with QBanks?

We frequently hear this question from students – “I’m doing question banks*. Should I use Picmonic, too?” Well, we’re here to help close the confusion loop and share why students are using both resources.

To get the highest STEP 1 scores possible, students start using Qbanks as early as the summer before their second year, or at least in the spring of second year. Some students use multiple Qbanks, and the earlier they start, the more Qbank questions they can get through. For an at-a-glance review of two popular Qbanks, view the comparison chart at

The following tips were compiled from student surveys.

Tip #1: Use Picmonic when you start school

With Picmonic, students memorize key facts and nitty gritty details of difficult to remember concepts, by using Picmonic’s efficient picture mnemonics. Using Picmonic complements concepts taught in dense lectures with “mnemonic Cliff Notes” containing the key high-yield facts. “Picmonic is ESPECIALLY helpful for notoriously difficult subjects where the information you have to learn is loosely amalgamated facts (like microbiology and pharmacology)”.

Start reviewing with Picmonic from the start of medical school. “It is most helpful if you start right away because it allows for more time to go through more videos.”

Students who start with Picmonic later (after first year) often regret starting late. “I wish I had Picmonic at the beginning of my first year as a medical student. Picmonic helped boost my Step 1 score 20+ points.”

“The sooner you start using Picmonic the better. That way you can get acquainted with the characters and memory palace format early on. Not to mention, you will be coming back to them to review for STEP 1 and 2, so you might as well use them when building your foundations.”

Tip #2: Review with Picmonic then do Qbank questions

The Play-Review-Quiz learning methodology used by Picmonic helps students review and retain high-yield information. Qbanks offers students the opportunity to apply the information they learned in the same format that will appear on the STEP exam. Using Picmonic to review first allows students to get the most out of the Qbanks.

“I’d recommend using Picmonic first to get the general principle of the pathology or concept, then tackle the questions of that subject. So if you’re focusing on Cardio or Biochem, do the Picmonics then tackle questions of that subject. Remembering the differences between Picmonics helps a lot too.”
“Review the material with Picmonic, then use whatever question bank resource you have to quiz yourself more in-depth.”
“I use Picmonic as a review material before attempting question banks. If there is any information that I learned in the q-bank then I add it into the Picmonic.”
“I see picmonic as a fact review – it’s a great way to gauge how I’m doing with a particular pathology or drug. Question banks are a very different category – they are pulling exam-style questions that require synthesis of a lot more material. Make time for both, as the basics will make a huge difference in synthesizing material.”
“I used picmonic for the quick, hard, straight facts that I may be forgetting about certain drugs or diseases. It gives you the quick and dirty of a particular disease or drug or mechanism while the question banks are more long drawn out questions and answers.”

Bottom line: Picmonic will enable you to efficiently and effectively learn and review information, and QBanks will help you do more in-depth assessments on board style questions.

Tip #3

So you got a question wrong on a Qbank? Find and watch the Picmonic video for that topic (or the set if you’re feeling bold!) to ensure you never miss those questions again. Students use Picmonic to review topics they get wrong in QBanks.

“If you get a question wrong, review the Picmonic video associated with the topics for each answer choice!”
“Use as a reference to review important facts”
“When you miss a question on the question bank, go back and rewatch that particular Picmonic and add any information to that Picmonic that might not already be included.”
“Most importantly get a UWorld/Qbank subscription, solve a timed-set & review each Q with Picmonic”
“After you’ve done a question, try finding that question in your First Aid book and then use Picmonic to reinforce that topic.”

Bottom line: If you miss a Qbank question, review that topic on Picmonic to ensure you have the high-yield facts memorized.

James Murchison, MD and Tony Hoyt, MD used Picmonic with Qbanks to score 274 and 275 on STEP 1, respectively. Now that you know how med students use Picmonic with Qbanks to achieve their dream step scores, start exploring Picmonic for free today!

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