USMLE Step 1 Experience – 257 – Dr. Peter
First of all, I needed to say something. In the measures of USMLE I’m considered a very old graduate. So my experience is for everyone but I hope it creates some difference for older graduates. My YOG as everyone likes to name it is 10 yrs now and for several reasons related to safety and security back home I had to leave and relocate to the states less than a couple of years ago. Then few months later started the journey of USMLE: I will detail what I did to prepare and after taking the test and results what I believe I should have done to prepare:
STEP 1 (STEP 2 will come in few pages so skip to it if not interested)
PREPARATION TIME: Nov 2014-October 2015 (~11 m) Exam 10/22 results were on 11/11/2016 – 257
Materials: 1st run KAPLAN LECTURE NOTES+VIDEOS: 4.5 m (All Kaplan 3.5 month except Pathology-1 m alone) in this order and if I went back and studied I wouldn’t change anything in this first run:
Physiology: must do Kaplan covers concepts elaborately (BRS or High Yield good too but I liked Kaplan, FA is very weak in this area compared to the others and my test q had lots of weird physio q). Kaplan Physiology videos in my opinion are not so good and can be skipped.
Anatomy: Kaplan is very good in general, videos are amazing and so simple. FA the latest version is getting so close to cover the most imp materials as well, would have read FA anatomy if I am using FA2016.
Neuro: if you like to understand it well then Kaplan + FA + Pathoma. if you need to push this exam then FA and pathoma are good enough. Dr Najeeb on youtube is amazing too but soooo long.
Biochemistry: Kaplan is very good, videos for me were very very useful but very lengthy. FA is kind of confusing but has so many good tables that cover all the essentials except for metabolism which is very weak in FA. You have to mug it up from FA while with Kaplan you tend to understand and analyze. the molecular part is good in Kaplan. Genetics are good in FA.
Microbiology: Kaplan book and videos are mediocre. FA is great for those subjects especially the 2016 version it covers them very efficiently.
Behavioral: Kaplan book is good, especially after adding the patient safety section this year and the videos of Dr. Daugherty are good but damn does he try to confuse you or just make you understand things in a painful way.
Pharmacology: Kaplan book amazing. Videos are priceless. Lionell is a super simple sarcastic instructor yet breaks down everything to you to make it easily digestible instead of swallowing it dry. FA is as good but I did not use it at all and would still stick to Kaplan. Pathology: I used Kaplan book, very good material but super messy, if I go back I would use FA. For Videos Pathoma is amazing no replacement for it. Pathology took one month to finish the first run
2nd run KAPLAN LECTURE NOTES+VIDEOS: 4 m similar to the first run plus KAPLAN Q BANK starting with Patho and Pharma q blocks-timed then adding one subject at a time as I was reviewing the lecture notes again. I finished 80% of the bank but if I went back I would not finish more than 50% as q tend to repeat a lot and I may finish all the physiology, biostat and patient safety together with pathophysio q instead of the whole bank. Repeated Patohma videos as well when I reached patho again. The best thing about Kaplan Q bank is that it refers you back to the subject or concept page in FA which makes it super simple studying Kaplan with FA and this is how I used FA as I never went through the whole book by itself. also this way saves some time and make the short condensed FA material easier to digest. If I went back again I would change the following in the 2nd run: No Immuno-Microbiology Kaplan only FA or sketchy micro. No Biochemistry revision only UWorld biochem q because they are so good and very close to the test. Except for the molecular which is a must in Kaplan and FA. During the 2nd run I discovered the presence of DIT and I watched lots of them during the revision and While doing Uworld. If I knew about them earlier I would have not watched any Kaplan videos in the 2nd run (except Pharma and Gross Anatomy) as they cover FA plus some extra stuff. and also visual + audio + written study material further reinforces your memory and understanding so I consider them golden and they definitely replace Kaplan if you have a tight preparation schedule. After that I took NBME 13 my result was 239 and felt confident to start U world and take the test after.
UWORLD: 2 m plus few days amazing q bank. You add tons of notes, and because I was already done with most of the materials I took the whole bank timed and random marked q as I was going through and I finished almost 94% or a little bit less. During this period I went through DIT videos related to the q that I get wrong or just to see their explanation of those subjects. The overall performance of UWORLD and the percentile were extremely similar to my score. I was on the 93rd percentile and the overall was high in the 75-77 area cant remember exactly. Last month : I reviewed some subjects in FA and Kaplan extensively (one system every 1-2 days) then took NBME 15 and I was really tired and scored 234 and felt like there must be something wrong. I pushed the test 2 weeks ahead and started reviewing Uworld marked q slowly with no pressure, did not want to do any further assessments and my test was a mixture between Kaplan q bank and U world and lots of familiar concepts in difficult qs but very very doable .
If this experience helped you check out the following experiences: