So this is the most common question for all beginners on how and where to study from, or better still a blueprint of the study material. Then most common problem which we all have faced taking this exam is which is the best material to stick to. The answer is going to pose as much dilemma as much as I faced while deciding which material I used for my preparation. I will start by listing the material which are most popular along with the less popular ones. Few have been from Indian writers as they were the books we followed in the dental studies in India. But the deadly 3 and most beneficial for me were Kaplan review and lecture notes+ ASDA reprints + USMLE First aid for Step1
The most commonly used materials and reason why they are so:
1. Kaplan Review Notes: This is one of the most sought after material released by Kaplan. It is the most comprehensive review of what we need to read for the exam and if you are through with this book at least 2-3 times I can guarantee that you will cross the mark of 85 percentile and up confidently.
2. ASDA National Board Reprints for Part 1: You just cannot get the correlation between your theoretical studies untill you have learned to apply them through these ADA questions. Make sure you solve each of the paper atleast 3 times before exam. And solve not cram, it will help you phenomenally. Definitely one of the few that CANNOT be skipped. Series runs from 1-A released in year 1978 to 1-N in 2009. Except for I-M and 1-N, all comprise of 400 questions. Keep your 1-L, M and N papers unsolved till the last month and access you preparation using these as mock tests. They are available at the ASDA website as well as for sale as used copies. You can also try downloading them from links available online, if not possible you can contact me, I can send them too. You can also try to get old paper copies from previous test takers if the paper copies are essential for your preparation.
3. Dental Decks: Dental Decks’ original flashcards can be acquired by the dental decks website as well as the used ones from resources online, eg. rapidshare and megaupload. I had used the original decks as well as the reprints but I feel especially in the picture section of the decks the flash cards are more useful. If you anyhow decide to use the printouts then try to put together few pages of each section and finish those sections alongside the main reading from Kaplan notes, so as you do not have to repeatedly read the decks apart from your notes. By doing this you will also realize that which information is novel in the decks and you can make note in your main material so as the decks needn’t be flipped every time. When managing to finish the decks one should try to put together reprints by stapling topics together as they are great read on the go, during your time which you might tend to waste like travelling, sitting outside in fresh air in morning/evening time etc.
* Keep yourself updated by the constant corrections at the dental decks website.
Just another point of view from my other friends, who had studied from the Dental Decks solely. Just like Kaplan review you can follow decks entirely but then it is an individual choice. I feel Decks are not very organized from the comprehensive reading viewpoint, they are more suited for US graduates who have very strong basics while in school and all they need to do before taking their boards is go through material like Decks or NBDE First Aid.
4. NBDE First Aid Part 1: This is one of the fastest read if you want to finish “the syllabus” at one go and aim for multiple revisions. Some of my friends swear by it in terms of quick one liners and its point to point approach but I personally find this one good in terms Anatomy section but deficient in many subjects, like microbiology and biochemistry which have been finished in just a few pages. As it is not a self sufficient study material and requires en-numerous adjuncts I would recommend a better alternate in my next study aid.
5. USMLE first Aid: One of my personal favorite after the Kaplan Review book. Whatever I was looking for in the NBDE first aid and failed to find in it was here. Case in point as any student preparing for the USMLE step 1 swears by this book as their study aid and I can vouch for it even for NBDE. It is one of the excellent source for all medical subjects and I would say it is a more reliable than Dental Decks and NBDE First Aid. Major reasons being the comprehensive system by system approach it has for all subjects. That is for every system it starts on with the anatomy–>then physiology –> finally the pathology. There are separate sections for the embryology, microbiology, biochemistry and immunology which are excellent in itself during the final phases of revisions.
P.S. Comparatively Gross Anatomy is still phenomenal in NBDE First Aid.
6. Kaplan Lecture Notes: Alright so this is a big debate as to which is better for NBDE part 1, the lecture notes or the review book. But I will try to rest my case by saying, a combination of the two. It is so that some subjects are better described in the lecture notes than the review, viz the microbiology, pathology, biochemistry and immunology if done from the lecture notes are totally worth it for your understanding and in turn your board scores. Anatomy and physiology are way concise in the review book. If you want to skip immunology diagrams and jump to the cramming, you can stick on the review book for it. At the end of the day I feel no book is wholesome for this exam and the key us to pick up the best from the best ones. For anatomy as I already mentioned the NBDE first Aid is really good in terms of touching everything ADA recommends us to read, but then the review book explains everything required for anatomy starting with the histology–> gross anatomy–>systemic–> and a detailed neuroanatomy. The review book has a total of 33 chapters which encompasses everything in anatomy cover to cover. Few diagramatic aids and barring few details here and there you are good to go even with all that is here.
P.S. Will elaborate more on each subject,section wise in the study technique post.
7. Your B.D.S. books: There is no better way of understanding than by reading the books you followed during you graduation years. I might miss out on a few but will try to fit in all the books which are very good writes from Indian as well as foriegn writers.
(i) Gross Anatomy including head and neck anatomy–> Inderbir Singh or B.D. Chaurasia. You can refer videos by Achaland, and Altas and books by Gray’s and Netter’s too.
(ii) Histology–> Inderbir Singh histology.
(iii) Embryology–> Inderbir Singh human embryology.
(iv) Pathology–> Robbin’s General Pathology by Vinay Kumar, Stanley Leonard Robbins. OR General pathology by Harsh Mohan.
(v) Biochemistry–> Lippincott’s biochemistry OR biochemistry by Satyanarayan. [Lehenger's Biochemistry, also recommended by ADA is an excellent source but you can leave it for the board exam as it is far too detailed].
(vi) Physiology –> Board review Series Physiology by Linda Costanzo OR Ganong’s review of medical physiology OR Guyton and Hall physiology review.
8. Goljan’s Pathogy notes and audio lectures: Though not an essential but this is a detailed resource and definitely takes a lot of time. But once you are through with it you can master your biochemistry and pathology at your fingertips and to a certain extent microbiology too. A one time listening and then a second read from the Kaplan lecture notes makes you conquer these hard to memorize subjects.