Ambrish Patel’s USMLE Step 1 Experience – 271
I am writing this experience to help all of you in your USMLE journey. This experience will detail my exam prep methodology, the books i used, the question banks i used, the things i did right and also the things i did wrong (which is equally important as it will help you understand what NOT to do). I am a Caribbean IMG and i gave my exam after my med school was over.. Unlike many colleges my college did not mandate that i give my test during med school.. therefore i procrastinated in the quest of the ultimate 270 score. I did eventually get this core..but at what cost ? Of becoming an old graduate who finished med school 4 years ago. This is mistake #1.. don’t be me.. Start early and finish early. I could have already been half way through my residency by now had i not procrastinated and done the right thing at the right time. Try to get done as soon as you can as more time is not equal to high score always.
I started preparation with Kaplan Lecture Notes and Kaplan Videos of lectures. This i did for almost a year on and off while procrastinating and wasting time with hanging out with friends and wasting time in meaningless things. After i finished ONLY Kaplan and without any questions practice i gave my first NBME. I scored very low 217 on NBME 16 … I was hoping for a high score..but i was devestated with the score. I was almost in a shock for 1 month. Finally after consults with my seniors and friends i understoof that i can’t just memorize the course.. I need to practice it well via questions if i hope to score well. So mistake #2 never do just the theory do the questions too..
So i started doing UW and First Aid and Pathoma.. I did this for 4 months and i also revised my Kaplan books again..then after again procrastinating for a month or so i finally gave NBME 18 and got 259. I was on cloud 9. I thought i would bomb the exam and would score terribly but to my surprise I actually scored well.. I had lost all confidence after wasting a year and scoring just 217 my confidence of scoring in 260s and 270s had evaporated..but after this test i was on cloud 9.. And i was elated.
I had never faced this issue in my medical school however here i faced this issue of becoming bipolar. Dont get me wrong it was not like an actual psychiatric thing but when you study USMLE you will realize that you will be elated and escstatic on one day and next day of your UWorld block you get only 60% correct you will feel like you are in depths of depression. After this score i was like F** yeah !! I am gonna score a 270 for sure and gonna gut this exam. Then i started wasting time and telling all my friends about my score..i started studying less and wasted almost 6 months. To be fair my sister also got married and i was busy with that.. you know Big Fat Indian Wedding. I studied very less and then without revising i gave the NBME 17 and scored only 238. I though score will increase but score went down 🙁 This made me again down and out. In this way i had wasted 2 years without giving the test. This was the worst feeling ever.. years wasted and i had not done anything except just wasting time and either being in hypo-mania or depression. Again, i am a normal guy..Its not like i have an issue.. I am totally chil but this exam got on my nerves. I then didnt study 2 months.
Finally i got a study partner and we studied each and every day for 10 months. We did all the books and all the offline NBMEs..and i gave the test. This concept of having a study partner helped me a lot.. it keeped me in check.. keeped me focused and i was on my target like a laser. I was studying every day 14 hours. I got a good score only because my schedule was tight and was focusing. Even if i got a lower score on an NBME i would get inspiration from my study partner and we are more like bros now and not just study partner colleagues. He too scored very well. We used the following resources eventually in that time period:
Kaplan Lecture Notes + Kaplan Videos
First Aid USMLE Step 1
BRS Gross Anatomy
BRS Behavioural Science
NBME – all NBME offline and online
Conrad Fischer’s Kaplan Medical Ethics 100 most common questions
Roadmap Gross Anatomy
High Yield Embryology
Conclusion: Focus on the process and don’t be too confident or underconfident. If i had been more systematic then i would have killed this exam by now, but i couldn’t because i was either down or up. Focus on studies and nothing else..forget your friends or family during this period as it will define your life forever. A shitty score is almost a professional death sentence as this exam can be given only once. I urge you to work and focus.. this exam is totally do-able and you can ace it easily. Be confident and the world is yours.