Dr. Adil Cheema – USMLE Step 1 Experience
Step 1 experience by Adil Cheema
Final score: 249
Study resources: First Aid 2015, Uworld Q Bank, Pathoma, 100 cases of ethics by Conrad Fischer and Kaplan lecture notes.
Exam date: 5th October, 2016.
Kaplan lecture notes and pathoma with video lectures. Tried to read FA and annotate KAPLAN on it but couldn’t so started Uworld. Took 4 months to complete U world in the first pass. Took NBME 12 right after completing U world.
NBME 12: 213 (7 months out)
Hadn’t read FA thoroughly so did first aid during this time twice with special focus on topics I feared e.g. Biostats, lysosomal storage diseases etc.
NBME 15: 232 (4 months out)
Started U world again while making short notes of questions that I was getting wrong and revised FA and pathoma again and took NBME 17.
NBME 17: 249 (1 month out)
Tried doing a block or two of U world daily with revising FA.
NBME 18: 251 (5 days before exam)
The idea is to stay focused and not use any other source for prep until you’ve mastered first aid and U world. You can score 250+ using these two.
Next step should be solving all the NBMEs and mastering all the concepts tested in them.
In doing so, you should try to be consistent and speedy. Try solving NBMEs at constant intervals. I don’t think it’s practically possible to revise all the course before every NBME. Just try not to make the same mistakes in the next NBME and focus on weak areas in revision.
The bulk of preparation depends upon memorising and cramming facts written in first aid so start doing this early in your prep.
The remaining preparation comprises practicing MCQs in an environment closest to real exam i.e. U world. As you make a habit of getting maximum number of questions correct out of a 40 question block using negative elimination, going through the stem again and marking the right questions to review.
All these steps are not absolute. Everyone will have a unique path towards their goal. There is a balance in knowing the facts and mastering the art of doing MCQs and not losing your sanity in the process. Timelines will not be met, daily targets will not be completed, you’ll get questions wrong which you shouldn’t, there will be bad days and procrastination will be a constant companion. Tea, coffee, sugar, friends, family and songs will provide support. And you’ll go from googling mechanism of NFkB to watching fan theories of game of thrones on YouTube many times. I think it’s all part of the normal USMLE prep. I would like to end my experience by saying that don’t let the mistakes you make during your prep weigh you down as they’ll teach you the lessons necessary to achieve your goals in the final exam.
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