USMLE Step 1 Experience and Study Tips by Dr. Kejal Gandhi
Exam Date: 26th October
Preparation time: 8 months along with the internship.
Study period: Maximum 5 days a week.
First of all, decide the month in which you want to take the exam and plan out accordingly. This is the most important step!
Stick to limited resources. FA + UWorld are the golden ones.
Phase 1: First 3 months (March-May)
I did Kaplan videos plus notes and UWorld 2016 and annotated only the “most” important topics from Kaplan and UWorld 2016 into FA for each subject.
Physiology, Pharmacology, Behavioral Science: Kaplan videos 2010 plus Kaplan notes.
Pathology: Pathoma. I annotated all the extra things from Pathoma into the FA which helped a lot as I didn’t have to revise Pathoma again in my final preparation.
Neuroanatomy: Dr. Najeeb Videos and FA.
Anatomy: Kaplan videos 2010 only and Shelf Notes (Highly recommended).
Microbiology: FA plus UWorld.
Biochemistry: Kaplan videos 2014 by Dr. Sam Turco (Highly recommended) plus Kaplan notes.
Phase 2: 4 months
1st month (June) – Studied FA thoroughly.
NBME 11: 39 incorrect.
Bought 3 months subscription of UWorld 2017 and completed in 2 months (July – August) due to internship issues. The goal was to complete it in 1.5 months.
NBME 12: 35 incorrect.
Next 1 month (September): Did FA very thoroughly and all the marked questions of UWorld (around 900).
NBME 13: 26 incorrect.
Phase 3: Last month!
I started analyzing my mistakes while giving the exam. I was always in a hurry and didn’t revisit any of the marked questions.
Along with revision of FA and UWorld gave the following exams.
NBME 15: 23 incorrect. (2/10/2017)
NBME 16: 19 incorrect. (4/10/2017)
(Happy as the graph was going up )
NBME 17: 25 incorrect. (9/10/2017)
NBME 18: 238 score with around 30 incorrect. (10/10/2017)
Depressed ! Again, a lot of silly mistakes, especially in diagnosing behavioral disorders. Took a break from giving exams and focused on the weak areas showed in the graph of NBME 18.
UWSA 1: 262 (13 days before exam)
UWSA 2: 260 (12 days before exam)
I gave UWSA after NBME 18 solely to boost my confidence level.
NBME 19: 244; 17 incorrect (11 days before exam)
I gave back to back exams as my date was near and I couldn’t delay it due to internship issues.
Revised FA and UWorld note again in last 10 days.
I was really nervous on the exam day and took a break after each block to calm myself. The questions were based on the concept from UWorld and NBME, however, some were really tough and lengthy. I felt terrible after the exam as I thought it didn’t go well. Again, this is normal! I highly recommend seeing the images of NBME questions thoroughly as those direct images were used in some questions.
The main reason for my nervousness was that I thought I was not prepared (due to large variations in my scores) and was giving the exam too early! But I did it anyway, as you can never be completely prepared for USMLE and everything is possible if you are surrounded by right kind of people who believe in you and most importantly if you believe in yourself!
If this experience helped you, make sure to check out the following experiences: