USMLE Step 1 Archives - USMLE Experiences & Best Books for USMLE Preparation

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Gowri Korpal – USMLE Step 1 Experience – 270

USMLE Experiences

USMLE Experiences

This experience has been submitted to website by the student doctor. If you would like to submit your experience please use the contact us page to do so. Make sure you look at the USMLE Code Of Conduct before submitting an experience. Thanks. 🙂

Books used:

Pathoma (Fundamentals of Pathology)

First Aid USMLE Step 1


BRS Behavioural Science

BRS Gross Anatomy

High Yield Gross Anatomy

BRS Embryology

Conrad Fischer’s 100 most commonly tested Ethics questions – Kaplan Medical Ethics

WebPath for images

Basic Preparation:

My preparation was divided into 2 parts: Basic and Advanced Preparation. The basic preparation component consisted of doing the basic books ( As the name suggested it was basic :p ). So i did First Aid USMLE, Pathoma and UWorld. These 3 are part of the commonly used acronym UFAP = UW + FA + Pathoma. I decided not to overload myself with tons of books and restricted to these books. While people do Kaplan Lecture Notes, All BRS and HY and Becker.. I did not want to overload myself and hence focused on doing few resources but doing them well rather than doing 100 resources superficially. I did UW and FA in a way that i would understand each and every word of the book. Also, whenever i would not understand i looked up google and wikipedia. I made sure i would check everywhere in case i did not understand a concept. I would even see my undergraduate textbooks, goljan, uptodate, anything and everything to make sure i understand. Also, when a phrase like “central umbilication in molluscum contagiosum” is given i would make sure exactly what it means and how the lesions look like by seeing google images. I did this to ensure that in case the topic showed up in my exam i would know it inside out…its images..its everything..not just a phrase like umbilication. Everyone can memorize…but in exam they will put the actual image and not a phrase describing it.

NBME Assessments: These are the holy grail questions of USMLE preparation. The questions are an under-utilized resource which has a potential of increasing people’s score by a significant amount. Let me explain to you all about what are NBMEs, How to use them, What to use them for and Why ? I will explain everything A to Z about NBME. When i started my preparation i looked at the experiences of past applicants and saw that everyone who had scored well had done all the NBME questions. These have been present in every high scorer’s preparation. But for some reason most average and below average scorers have under utilized this resource. Many people procrastinate and / or are scared of taking a assessment test. The thing is if you use these tests well then you can increase your score drastically. So there are 15 NBMEs, each with 200 questions. The NBME organization does not give out the correct answers and explanations of these tests. However, students have compiled the correct answers and explanations of these tests. Now, the way these tests should be used is to do one test every week starting 5 months from your exam. If you do this then you will get a ton of questions on your realm exam which will be on the same topics as the NBMEs. The reason being that NBMEs are made by the USMLE organization itself. They have to be used as both a assesment tool and a learning tool. The thing you need to understand is that the NBME scores of the recent NBMEs are extremely predictive of the real exam. In addtion to this, when you do the NBMEs, make sure you check which topics you got correct and which topics you got wrong. By doing this, you will be able to understand which topics you need to focus on more. Like in my earlier NBMEs i was consistently getting Behavioural Science and Gross Anatomy wrong. What i did was i picked up  the best books i was aware of for these 2 subjects and i did those books inside out and in the later NBMEs my questions of those 2 topics were all correct and i improved my performance by a significant amount because i analyzed my weaknesses, like i was getting developmental milestones wrong and i was also getting patient physician interaction type questions wrong. As i will explain below in the Behavioural Science section i improved my Behavioural Science by getting the best books for it and learning the subject well. Similarly i was also having difficulty with gross anatomy and embryology and i improved it by getting better books than the ones i was using already and by doing the subject in depth.

I had done all the offline and the online NBMEs. For the Offline NBMEs i have written the number of incorrect questions out of 200. What you have to do is take the correct questions out of 200 and multiply it by 1.39 in order to get the 3 digit score. This is a rough estimate of what you would have scored had you taken the test online. I gave them in order from 1 to 19 without changing any order or skipping any NBME in between.

NBME 1 – 30 incorrect – 236

NBME 2 – 34 incorrect – 230

NBME 3 – 30 incorrect – 236

NBME 4 – 28 incorrect – 239

NBME 5 – 32 incorrect – 233

NBME 6 – 31 incorrect – 234

NBME 7 – 24 incorrect – 245

NBME 11 – 26 incorrect –  242

NBME 12 – 21 incorrect – 249

NBME 13 – 24 incorrect – 245

NBME 15 -22  incorrect – 247

I gave these from the start of my preparation and i finished NBME 15 – 4 months before my test. I then prepared for 3 months and i gave the following NBMEs in the last month just prior to my exam. In these 3 months of preparation i did the things i was more weak in.i.e. Behavioural and Anatomy. This caused my score to jump from high 240s to low-mid 260s. With God’s grace i scored even higher 270 in my real test.

Advanced Preparation:

Now after doing the offline was time to do the topics which i was weak in PRIOR to doing the online NBMEs. And those topics were Behavioural Science & Gross Anatomy.

In Behavioural Science there are multiple parts and each one needs to be done in a specific manner. Following are the sections in Behavioural Science:

– Core Behavioural Science (stuff like conditioning)

– Psychiatry and Psychotherapeutics

– Patient – Physician Relations

– Biostatistics

The first 2 are pretty easy and i will concentrate on the last 2 as that was what i was getting wrong in my NBMEs. To improve this i did UWorld Biostatistics Subject Review, BRS Behavioural Science and Conrad Fischer’ 100 most likely questions of Ethics.

Apart from this i saw that in my NBME performance i was also weak in Anatomy and i was not just weak in Gross and Clinical Anatomy, i was also weak in Embryology. These sections i was at a point in time planning on ignoring and doing just UFAP for it. However, i am incredibly thankful to god that i did not ignore it and did it well. The reason is that it was heavily tested in my exam. I had concentrated on the questions in the following books more than the text. I would recommend you to do both, text + questions.. however, the questions are very helpful in actually memorizing the text and they are a must-do. I used:

BRS Gross Anatomy

High Yield Gross Anatomy

BRS Embryology

After doing my weak sections from these books for these 2 subjects, i went on to give online NBME and my score in th

Following i gave online:

NBME 16(24 days before exam): 261

NBME 17 (17 days before exam): 265

NBME 18 (13 days before exam): 269

NBME 19 (6 days before exam): 261

Final Preparation:

After these NBMEs i was sure that i am going to do well in the in the final 5 days before the exam.. I did wrong questions from UWorld, wrong questions from NBME and First Aid USMLE on last time. I made sure i knew each and every word in FA when i went in to give the test, I could literally visualize every nook and corner of the textbook.

Exam Day:

I slept well on the day before the exam. On the exam i was calm and confident and it helped me a lot. Being neurotic and anxious will not did what you had to.. you prepared for a long time.. Its all done now. Be confident and win the race.. Go in with your 100%

February 28, 2018

USMLE Step 1 – IMG Experience – 267 – Pooja

USMLE Step 1 Experience

USMLE Step 1 Experience



Dr. Pooja Patel

Gujarat, India

Preparation time: 15 months

Materials used:

Kaplan Lecture Notes and Videos except Pathology

First Aid USMLE Step 1

HY Gross Anatomy

HY Behavioural Science

Kaplan Medical USMLE Medical Ethics: The 100 Cases You are Most Likely to See on the Test

Fundamentals of Pathology – Pathoma


Goljan Images

WebPath for Images

Heart sounds app on android

ECG (only topics related to USMLE)


I started out with Kaplan and also did UWorld offline with it. This lasted around 4-5 months. After this i started doing UWorld offline with Pathoma and First Aid. Then in the interim period i started doing offline NBME from NBME 1 onwards.. I soon found out that my Behavioural science was very weak.. so i did HY Behavioural and the 100 cases book. This was helpful in improving my offline NBME scores. I was doing these NBME along with understanding every question and also understanding the incorrect options along with the correct ones. I had heard that Anatomy was very tough in USMLE and hence i also did HY Gross Anatomy. This was helpful in doing the ropics which i was weak in MBBS years. Actually in india anatomy is very heavy subject of first MBBS.. so i was quite good at it..though some things weren’t so solid..those got solid after doing HY Gross Anatomy.

I also was afraid of multimedia on the test and hence i did: Goljan Images, WebPath for Images, Heart sounds app on android, ECG (only topics related to USMLE). These helped me a lot on the test as i had ECGs and Heart sounds and also abunch of questions with MRI and CT Scan and histopathology and gross pathology images.


Overall the exam is doable but i recommend you do Behavioural science study partner did almost same stuff as me except the 2 behavioural science things and he scored 11 points lower than me. Actually his online NBME score used to be more than mine but his Behavioural was very very low in the exam score card. So i recommend special attention on Behavioural Science.

Best of luck !!

February 28, 2018

USMLE Step 1 Experience of IMG Dr. Farook – 271

USMLE STEp 1 (3)

USMLE STEp 1 (3)


USMLE Step 1 Experience by Dr. Farook

Materials studied and number of times studied:

Kaplan Lecture Notes – 2 times + Kaplan Videos  – 1 Time

First Aid USMLE Step 1 – 6 times

UWorld (1 time offline and 1 time online)

BRS Behavioural Science – only questions 1 time

BRS Anatomy – only questions 1 time

Conrad Fischer’s 100 questions of ethics – 1 time


USMLE is a long process and i recommend you understand your strengths and weaknesses in order to go for this test. My strength was studying for 8-10 hours a day consistently. Some people’s strength maybe to study 24-36 hours non-stop but that is not my strength. I believe that in order to synthesize memory one needs good sleep, good diet and good exercise in addition to studies. So i went to the gym regularly and ate healthily. I did not stay up late and made sure i study in proper rhythm. Rhythm is very important for me and i studied in the following pattern:

Wake up at 8

Go to library after a breakfast and begin reading at 9

Read for 4 hours till 1 PM

Take a light lunch at 1-2 PM. I brought the food along with me to the library and in this way i did not have to go back home to get the food. That maintained my tempo and i did not get distracted in time wasting transit from one place to another.

Then i would study till 7 PM from 2PM i.e. 5 more hours.

Then i would go for a run and then exercise. That was from 7PM to 9PM

9PM – 10PM i would have dinner

And finally i would study 1-2 hours in the night after food

So all in all i studied for 10 hours roughly per day..each and every day.


UW and FA i did word for word..each and every thing. I made sure i knew those books well. Uworld i solved as untimed timed and tutor mode for the first time and i got 82%. In the second time i got 96% and second time i did random and timed.

I annotated everything from UW and Kaplan into FA. I would also google for things not explained well in the books. After googleing i would enter some useful information into my FA. I had basically put FA into a binder and seperated the pages. I would be able to add new pages in between this way. Basically, because FA has so less free space… i had to add my own pages in it. So in this way i annotated stuff from everywhere into my book.

I also did all the NBMEs. I did each and every NBME – offline and online as it is known that the questions can come form any of them

Final days:

In the last months i did only my annotated FA. I just read that book as i had accumulated all the information in it.

In the last week i did somethings like – Heart sounds, ECG, FRED practice test. I also did the questions i got incorrect on the NBME and on the UWorld.

Exam day:

I got cold coffee, red bull and chips in my bag to the Prometric center. No heavy food. I took breaks between all blocks except first 2 and i did them back to back. Rest blocks i took a break between them. Also after 4th block i had the chips. In the rest of the block i alternate between consuming 1 red bull or 1 cold coffee..

February 28, 2018

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 272 – Rochelle Howell

USMLE Step1 Experience

USMLE Step1 Experience


Finally got my score card back and it is an amazing 272 !! Could never have expected this amazing score.. it is beyond my wildest dreams and also beyond my most recent NBME test or for that matter it is higher than any NBME test i have ever given. In this article i am going to break down the exact method step by step how i reached this score and how anyone could if they have a decent baseline knowledge and are willing to work hard. The solution to most things in the following experience is related to: “Spaced repetition technology” and in particular the free software called “Anki”. It is 100% free so like i am not pitching for sales of any company and as a matter of fact i recommend that you DO NOT buy and anki cards or even use the free ones as they are not really that good and at the very least even if they are good they are not customized to your own learning style.

I basically studied from a ton of sources and put it all into ANKI by making my own decks. In the end near my exam i had around 11K cards. Why and how are so many cards useful.. let me explain it:

How to use anki for USMLE ?

Or rather i should say How is anki useful for USMLE Step 1 ?

So basically what happens is that once we read something we forget it in a few days and the way Anki works is that it re-inforces concept at the exact time that we are likely to forget it. This makes sure that the information that we have read stays in our head. So basically if you make anki cards and make sure you follow the schedule and do the cards daily then the information will be stored in your head indefinetely and you wont have to worry about it. The reason i liked this is because i was always vary if i am actually going to be able to remember everything i study. I used to read and forget in a few days..but what anki did was that as long as i am willing to put in the time and effort everyday to review the cards i would be able to remember the material indefinetely. This helped me memorize really small minutae which i would otherwise never have been able to remember. So that’s enough of why you should use Anki. Now onto my journey…

So let’s start by the resources i used and the method i used these resources.

I did the following materials:

First Aid USMLE Step 1

Kaplan Lecture Notes & Kaplan Videos

Boards and Beyond

Fundamentals of Pathology by Hussain Sattar

Rapid Review Pathology by Edward Goljan

BRS Gross Anatomy

BRS Behavioural Science

BRS Physiology

BRS Embryology

BRS Histology

High Yield Neuroanatomy



UWSA 1 and UWSA 2

Kaplan Qbank

Kaplan Sims and Kaplan Diagnostic test

NBME all – offline and online

From all of these books i would take out whatever information i did not know already and put it into Anki – Important: If i knew something from my medical school days i did NOT put it into anki.. as unnecesarily overloading info into the cards is worthless.

Out of above resources i did mainly questions ONLY from the BRS books. As far as First Aid USMLE is concerned i made sure i knew it inside out word for word. I would make sure that i knew everything in it…and for that i had to google a lot and see wikipedia also. Same is the case with UWorld.. For these 2 things i did above and beyond the basic books.. For the rest of the books i would not go beyond the books as the books themselves were exhaustive themselves.  I took all the information and put it into Anki and the thing is you have to just trust the process.. Just trust the software and it will make sure you remember.. but of course you HAVE to do the questions daily..meaning whatever flash cards are to be done today you cannot under any circumstances delay it or procrastinate it. You have to do today’s work today. If you do that you will memorize everything perfectly.

I gave NBME 16-19 online. I dont have the scores of those but they were all in the mid 260s.. so i dont remember which one was which. I gave the tests within last 2 months before the test. So those scores were from the similar preparation level. There wasn’t much improvement as i believei gave it in last 2 months within a span of i think 2-3 weeks only. All of them were mid 260s and hence i was sure i will score well.

As far as the exam is concerned i can’t divulge questions so dont ask.. what i can say is that if you do above method and do it exactly as i say then you can expect a similar score.

February 26, 2018

USMLE Step 1 Experience – Dr. Anastasia (Ukranian IMG) – 271


Hello all. This is Anastasia. My experience is divided into 4 parts:

Preparation Books



Exam experience


First Aid USMLE Step 1

Kaplan Lecture Notes (even Pathology.. i did it all from Kaplan. Barone Rocks !! 😀 )

BRS Behavioural Science

BRS Gross Anatomy

BRS Physiology

High Yield Embryology

High Yield Neuro-Anatomy

Conrad Fischer’s Kaplan Medical Ethics – 100 most likely questions

Fundamentals of Pathology – Pathoma



I started with Kaplan Lecture Notes with some of the videos. I did the Pathology lectures contrary to popular opinion it is quite good. Behavioural science is the achilles heal of all IMGs and hence i did BRS Behavioural science and also Kaplan Medical ethics 100 most likely questions. I was week in NeuroAnatomy so i did HY Neuroanatomy and it was helpful. I also did Pathoma and while it was helpful.. Barone rocks !! 😀 First aid and Uworld are the 2 most high yield resources in USMLE.. its even higher yield than high yield books despite the name.


NBME 18: 269

NBME 19: 267

I dont recall the other NBMEs scores as it has become a long time since i gave them but i gave all NBMEs online which were available online and the rest i just did the questions and answers with explanations offline. It was very helpful as i found a similar pattern between this and the real exam.


Do the following before the exam:

Sleep well before the day of the exam. I got 7 hours of good sleep before the exam and i think it helped me a lot.

Do the tutorial from FRED before the exam as it is very helpful as it save the time which would otherwise have been used in it. That time can be effectively used in breaks.

Do the images on the last day before the exam and dont study too much on the day before the exam as it is not helpful and rather you will be hyper and may have difficulty sleeping.

Make sure to have food, drinks etc for the exam breaktime packed before the exam. Dont pack at last moment as you will just be anxious then.

The exam was tough and it was also lengthy. Questions were weirdly worded and even corner questions from corners of First Aid were asked. I recommend you to concentrate on First Aid and UWorld the most. Best of luck… on to step 2 Ck now..

February 26, 2018

Ashley’s USMLE Step 1 Experience – 266

USMLE STEp 1 (5)

USMLE STEp 1 (5)



I was a regular MS2 in a large well know university and scored average on my tests in med school. I was never really a class topper but i worked my ass off for this test and it paid off.

Books and question resources i used:

First Aid USMLE Step 1

Fundamentals of Pathology by Hussain Sattar

Rapid Review Pathology by Goljan

BRS Gross Anatomy

BRS Behavioural Science

BRS Physiology

BRS Embryology

Kaplan Biochemistry Lecture Notes

Doctors in Training


Self made Anki deck


Kaplan Qbank

Becker Qbank


Kaplan Qbook

First Aid Q&A

NBME 15,16,17,18,19 online

NBME 1-14’s actually just 10 tests offline(some numbers NBME haven’t been released by them so it’s not 14 tests offline but rather 10 offline..go figure !!).. Do all the NBMEs if you want a score over 260 !! Don’t skip them !!

Topics to be done well divided by subjects:

Anatomy: Perineum and Pelvic anatomy; the nerve, lymph drainage, vascular supply,etc everything of that part is important. CT Scan and MRI of the upper and lower limbs, head and neck. Coronary angiography. BRS Gross anatomy has a TON of questions. Do that and the questions from the question banks and NBMEs and you will be gold. You will do very well in USMLE if you know the imaging and have done tons of questions. I was afraid of anatomy before the exam and i got a very high percentile in it (based on the score report page with the bars i was on the extremely accurate end)

Embryology: BRS Embryology questions were very good. In addition to this Qbanks and FA are good enough to nail this. While you will get probably only 4-5 questions on this, don’t ignore things like pharyngeal arches and developmental anomalies very well. You will get all the questions right

Physiology: Endocrine is very important as i had a ton of up down arrow questions from it. This subject is dealt with well in Costanzo’s BRS Physiology. I did not do the big Costanzo book but this book was enough. Do CVS well too.. there are questions about responses to hemorrhage and shock types in almost every qbank and also on the NBME

Biochemistry: This was the only subject in which i did Kaplan Lecture notes for biochemistry as this s the only one which has to be done well. The doctor.. i forgot his name Dr. Wilson or something in Kaplan Biochemistry is very good and he does a great job of teaching Biochem. I recommend you to do biochem from kaplan as it is tough well with a good integration between normal biochem and the abnormal disease.

Microbiology & Immunology: This is one subject which i wish i had done less as FA + UW is actually enough. If you know those 2 very well then you will ace this test, You dont need to go overkill this subject as it is pretty much direct memory based. I used Sketchy from my room partner’s subscription.

For Immunology you need to do Hypersensitivity and autoimmune diseases very well. You also need to know things like normal lymph drainage of the entrie body. But that is very obvious..cant expect to get a good score if you dont know FA and this is covered well in FA> The Qbank questions and NBME questions were very helpful as seening the clinical vignettes helps understand how these autoimmune diseases are presented in the test. Like we may memorize SLE however we need to integrate things like the clinical presentation of pericardial rub explained in word (they wont say pericardial rub they will describe it).. integrating the clinical vignette knowledge into the way in which the disease presents in important.

Pharmacology: This is rote memorization

Behavioural science: BRS Behavioural science + Qbank questions + NBME questions. If you want to do overkill you could do the AMA code of ethics handbook. I actually bought that book and used it along with my prep as it was referenced throughout the Uworld qbank. You dont need to but i did.

Pathology: Obviously the big dog of the hood. Lolz. This subject is to be done from as many resources as you can do. As a matter of fact Firecracker was pretty helpful in this as the topics in there are an aggregate of the pool of knowledge from Pathoma and Goljan and also some data is in there from the Qbanks too.

February 26, 2018

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 270 – Dr. Hussain – IMG

USMLE Step 1 (3)

USMLE Step 1 (3)

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 270 – Dr. Hussain – IMG

I started preparing after my final year was over during my internship year. I had to go to work and also study simultaneously and hence it was very hectic. I took 18 months to give this test. I recommend you to make sure that at least when you have the USMLE test, 2 months prior to that you don’t have to do any job or are not at work anywhere and are doing dedicated study only.


First Aid USMLE Step 1

Kaplan Lecture Notes for USMLE Step 1 with Kaplan Lecture Videos

BRS Gross Anatomy

BRS Behavioural Science

BRS Physiology

High Yield Gross Anatomy

Boards and Beyond


Goljan’s Fundamentals of Pathology

Fundamentals of Pathology by Hussain Sattar (Pathoma)

High Yield Embryology

Conrad Fischer Pharmacology Flash cards

Conrad Fischer’s 100 most likely ethics questions – Kaplan Medical Ethics

Lippincott Illustrated Reviews Flash Cards: Biochemistry


UWorld USMLE Step 1

Kaplan Qbank

All 3000 questions of NBME (All NBME test offline and online)

First Round(6 months):

I did Kaplan Lecture Notes with Kaplan videos. I also did FA with DIT in this round. I also did Pathoma completely and some amount of Goljan in this round. I could never do something like Goljan completely as it’s just not possible. I also did Kaplan Qbank and UWorld Offline in this round. The offline tests were very helpful and helped me actually grasp the material as merely rote memorization of theory is not enough

Second Round (4 months):

In this round i shored up my weaknesses as felt from doing the questions & any POTENTIAL weaknesses which may come in the exam. Like: Gross Anatomy is being tested a lot. I knew that if i dont do it well i will face trouble in the actual exam and hence i did BRS Gross Anatomy and High Yield Gross Anatomy. Also, I was weak in up/down arrow type questions and in order to get those down cold i did BRS Physiology. Additionally the subjects of Biochem and Pharmac are memorization type and for those i bought the Flash Cards that i have mentioned. They were helpful to me as i didn’t want to do anything like Anki. So i did those physical flash cards instead. Additionally my Ethics and Behavioural science was weak and for that i did BRS behavioural science and the 100 cases book mentioned in list above. I also did Picmonic and B&B with this as and when i faced issues. Though i did not do these 2 or the other books like those for embryology..i didnt do them religiously. I did them as and when needed but not from cover to cover.

Third Round(3 months):

In this round i did all the books and all the material again but now i did it with the NBME test offline. These tests were very helpful in pin pointing my problems. Like if i had an issue with a particular topic in NBME test.. then that question’s topic i would go back to my books and do that topic very well. So doing books + NBME offline was very helpful.

Online NBME Round (4):

I did 4 NBMEs online: NBME 19,18,17,16 – I got scores in high 250s to low 270s. I also did the entire text books again along with this as my method was to do NBME and understand every single question from it. I would try to understand each and every right and wrong option as these questions are very important.

Final Round before test(2):

I was pretty sure that i will do well on the test and all that was remaining was to make sure that i do the minutae well. And that was exactly what i did. I did the small topics which are forgotten easily in this round.

Test Day Experience:

Exam was brutal. I recommend sleeping well before the test, Make sure not to read anything on the day before the test. This will improve your cognition during the test. Don’t be scared much.. a test cant change you as a doctor. Go in with confidence. Take care and god bless.

February 26, 2018

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 273 – Dr. Zahra el-Ammar

USMLE StEp 1 (2)

USMLE StEp 1 (2)


USMLE Step 1 Experience – 273 – Dr. Zahra el-Ammar

I gave my USMLE Step 1 test in mid 2017. I gave my USMLE Step 2 CK test recently. Hence i felt that i should give back to the community and so i have written this experience. In medical college i used to be an above average student (sorry for the humble brag). So my basics were pretty solid. I prepared and gave my tests in only 8 months. In part this was due to solid fundamentals. In case you had weak fundamentals then concentrate on those. They are very important. Dont hurry through the prep and take your time to prep for this beast.

– I starting studying in late 2016 for the test. I collected all the books and video lectures. I was already good with the basics so all i needed to do was refresh things which were either supposed to be known in greater depth in USMLE than my medical school OR subjects which never existed in my medical school. I started out with Kaplan Lecture Notes & Kaplan Video. I did the following first:

  • Biochemistry – As it is asked in greater depth in USMLE than in my college
  • Behavioural Science – As i never had the subject as i am an IMG and it’s not in our course as an independent subject
  • Immunology – It is asked in much greater depth in USMLE Step 1 than in my medical college.

Having done these.. I rapidly went through Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology, Pharmacology from Kaplan Lecture Notes and Kaplan Videos. I did not do every word of these. I did those things that i was not exactly confident in. My plan was not to memorize these books as it is impossible to memorize them word for word. But rather i wanted to shore up my weaknesses from medical college and get to the meat of the USMLE prep(so to speak). i.e. Get to Uworld and First Aid USMLE Step 1.

First Aid USMLE is a very indpeth book. It may seem like it is just a few hundred pages. But actually it is much more than that. The book..each and every word in it is High Yield. It is very important to know everything in the book with understanding. Google or look up on wikipedia whatever you are not sure of it’s meaning and don’t know it inside out. I had to know everything in that book..not even a footnote in the book would i miss under any circumstances. I would know what everything means inside out. The book is meant as an index. Once you know the index..then it is upto you to know everything about even rarely asked stuff like monoclonal antibodies of rare diseases.

Uworld is actually not just a qbank.. it is more like a large 2000 page book. It’s questions are to be done with answers and explanations. It is important to know even the explanations of the incorrect options. It is vital to know the question bank perfectly because many a times the main question may not be asked but rather the incorrect option’s explanation is framed into a question in the real exam.

I also did 100 most likely ethics case by conrad fischer’s kaplan medical ethics. It was helpful to a significant extent in the exam. Also, i did his Pharmacology Flash Cards by Conrad Fischer. It was also helpful to a certain extent

I gave the following tests online:

NBME 17: 265

NBME 18: 263

NBME 16 was most predictive for me. I got the real score near this score. I got 269 on NBME 16

NBME 19 : 261

UWSA > 260+

NBMEs are more predictive than UWSA. NBME are to be done not just online but also to be done with answers and explanations. It is very important to know the exact understanding behind a NBME question as these questions are made by USMLE organization themselves. It is vital to do NBME offline all the forms which you have not done online.

Before exam i did the FRED practice test which has a few blocks in the exact style as the real deal. Doing these before the exam will help you in doing the exam without having to see the tutorial and you will save 15 minutes in the test and that will get added to your break time.

– My exam day experience:

All questions can be divided into the following sections:

60% based on UW FA Pathoma and NBME

20% based  on Kaplan and other ancillary books and googling and knowing the topic indepth

10% which required tertiary order thinking and which also integrated topics in a weird way not seen before the exam

10% WTF ?!!

I also had 2 ECG and 2 Heart sounds so please make sure you do these well. Both things you should practice well as FA and UW dont cover these well.

I took wafers, redbulls and snack bars to my test. I suggest light food and not insanely heavy stuff as that will just make you feel sleepy and you will not be able to concentrate in the block you do after the heavy lunch. Also before exam i slept 5 hrs (thankfully).. so didnt have an issue with lack of concentration in the test.

Best of luck !!!

February 26, 2018

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 271 – IMG

USMLE Step 1 Experience

USMLE Step 1 Experience


My experience is to the point without any fluff.. Many people talk about the struggles they faced..the problems they had. How they were frustrated. Now while all of these are very valid points..they don’t really mean anything to a person reading an experience. Sure someone was tired and frustrated with USMLE prep..but then who isn’t ? Its not useful information and hence I will skip it in the experience of my USMLE Step 1 prep and exam.

Exam: mid november 2017

Primary study resources: UFAP + NBME + Questions from BRS series

UFAP = UW + First Aid USMLE Step 1 + Pathoma (Fundamentals of Pathology by Hussain Sattar)

BRS = Board Review Series

Anatomy: FA + UW + BRS Anatomy (only questions)

Physiology: FA + UW + BRS Physiology (only questions)

Biochemistry: FA + UW

Microbiology: FA + UW + Sketchy

Immunology: FA + UW + Kaplan Immunology Lecture Notes

Pathology: FA + UW + Fundamentals of Pathology (Pathoma)

Behavioural Science: FA + UW + Kaplan Medical Ethics by Conrad Fischer – 100 cases

Pharmacology: FA + UW + Picmonic

Assessment Tests:

UWSA1  & UWSA2: 260s

NBME 15: 252

NBME 16: 265

NBME 17: 257

NBME 18: 267

NBME 19: 255

My UWSA scores were long time ago and i dont remember but i would like to highlight that it is a known fact that UWSA is not very predictive in nature and hence should be taken only as practice..not as assessment. Also along with the NBMEs i also did their explanations.. now again this is a tedious and time consuming process to do all 3000 questions with answers and explanations but it is a good preparation.. I suggest you to do NBME as it is made by USMLE exam conducting body and the questions are very good practice.

My exam was in winter and was it insane inside the exam hall or what. I don’t know how these USMLE and Prometric test conducting people are able to take 1K USD per test and still provide terrible service ? I mean isn’t it their job to make sure that the room isn’t so cold that if you touch the meta of the table you don’t get frost bite ?? (Ok well frost bite is an exaggeration but it was really cold in there.. i dont know how they could keep it so cold..they should have central heating for the amont the charge us). Anyways the exam was tough. They asked a lot of weird MRIs. I recommend you do MRI and CT scans well. Also make sure to do Perineal and Pelvic Anatomy. For Biochemistry do knock in and knock out mouse well along with other esoteric molecular biology topics. Behavioural Science was always tough for me and in exam also it was confusing as i was able to narrow to 2 options..and then just picked my gut instinct. There weren’t many patho-histology.

All in all, do UFAP + NBME and make sure you google and search wikipedia for getting the topic understood well. Whenever in if you have an issue with understanding Ruxolitinib..then just google “Ruxolitinib USMLE”.. Follow the query by the word USMLE and it works wonders as only USMLE relevant info is given..and not general info.. Like if you search just “Ruxolitinib” you will get many searches from pharmacy type sites talking about how the drug is physically manufactured..that is worthless info. So put USMLE in the google search after the phrase that you want to search. Make sure you have UFAP + NBME done cold.. If you know it with understanding..then exam is not necessarily the big monster it is made out to be. And always aim for the stars and be optimistic. It is vital to do so and have a good temprament. 🙂

February 26, 2018

Ambrish Patel’s USMLE Step 1 Experience – 271

USMLE Step 1 - 271

USMLE Step 1 – 271

Hey friends,

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 Physiology

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.

February 26, 2018
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