Here’s my experience, hoping it may help someone elase:Exam date: June 2015
Mean (SD) of US med students at the time of my exam: 230 (20)
Background: IMG (over 10 years since graduation), did a Master’s and PhD after med school and currently a postdoctoral research fellow
Total prep time: just over 800 hours scattered over 7-8 Month
Details of prep time line: I took the Kaplan diagnostic test at the end of Sept ’14 but did not get into studying till the end of Nov or early Dec’14. I am doing my postdoctoral fellowship, so have to work full time. I logged my study time and did an average of ~ 5 hrs a day summing to a total of 825 hrs over this period.Study material:
Kaplan lecture notes (1x after watching the videos and annotating FA to some degree)
Kaplan classroom anywhere lectures of 2014 or 2010 (watched once at 1.5x or 2x speed while annotating the notes).
For physiology I did BRS + Kaplan videos by Dr Wilson
For Neuroanatomy I did High Yield + Kaplan videos by Dr White
For pathology I did Pathoma + videos (1x)
First Aid (2x overall)
Note about Kaplan videos: I mixed and matched the lecturers as some of them where better in 2010 version and some better in 2014 lectures. For example: Biochemistry: Sam Turco 2010, Behavioral Science: Steven Daugherty 2010, Pharmacology & Physiology: same lecturer and both good, etc.Question bank:
Note: Did it once in timed random new mode, barely finished it and did not get a chance to review my mistakes or go over marked questions. I started in January and continued till my exam day. My score started in the 50% and rose to over 80% over time (average 75%).Study order:
Kaplan books + videos
Kaplan Diagnostic Test (- 9 Month before starting prep): 54%
NBME form 7 offline (- 3 month): 84%
NBME form 15 (- 7 weeks): 260
UWSA form 1 (-5 weeks): 265
NBME form 16 (-4 weeks): 247 (really pissed and postponed exam from June 1 to 17)
NBME form 17 (-2 weeks): 260
UWSA form 2 (-2 days): 265
Note: I did not have time to review any of these exams. I just went over my mistakes and found the right answers. Also did not have time to do the free sample questions on USMLE webstie.Good things:
Uworld is very helpful. Make sure to read ALL the explanations.
BRS physiology is a brilliant book.
Pathoma is an excellent book.
First Aid has most of the things you need for the exam (>85%), but you need to understand all the concepts and not memorize it. I have seen people claiming to read it 5 times or more for the exam. Personally I think quality is much more important. I just did two reads which I think was sufficient.
NBME forms are HIGHLY predictive of your performance.
I don’t think you need to get into the details of Kaplan notes or annotate FA with Kaplan. I tried it initially but gave it up since it was just too time consuming.
NEVER postpone the exams! I did it and regret it. At the end my score did not change.
I think I should have reviewed marked questions in Uworld.
I sort of slacked off in the last 3-4 weeks before the exam because I was just too tired. Maybe if I had pushed it further I could have scored in the 260s. Such a shame to miss 260 by 1 point.
I think doing more question banks is superior to reading more.
Step 1 is a challenging and weird exam, the stems are much longer than Uworld and there will be questions that you have no clue about. I don’t know how to face these. Just don’t panic. It’s also a test of your exam stamina. You must plow through the questions and try to keep focused. Red bull is very helpful. Keep it in your locker and take a sip on your breaks. You need enough caffeine in your system to keep you alert but not too much to get you agitated.
That’s all! Hope my experience help the others on this forum and hopefully you can score better than I did. It’s an exam of being smart and focused, it’s not about being a book worm.