Category Archives for Experiences

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 !!!

September 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. 🙂

September 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.

September 26, 2018

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 267 – Dr. Nadiya

USMLE Step 1 Experience

USMLE Step 1 Experience

Dr. Nadiya’s USMLE Step 1 Experience:

My background is very poor as the grasp over english is week as i did not study in a english school. I try my hardest to make you understand how my preparation and exam experience happens.

First i make sure my english good. So for that i take english class just for my dear USMLE 😉 . I make english strong and then i start USMLE preps. I start by Kaplan Video series with Kaplan Lecture Notes for USMLE Step 1. It was long and exhaustive processes but i still manage to do it in 4 months. Then i start with the questions: I do the UWorld Qbank and Kaplan Qbank. They were both good. I think Uworld make you think much but Kaplan is more straight to the points. It goes to the root direct instead of distraction. I recommend to do the following topics well as they are both HY and tough to do well:

Behavioural Science: Do the Conrad Fischer 100 cases of Kaplan Medical Ethics. Do BRS Behavioural Science selected chapters you are weak in. It is important and tough. Especially do developmental milestones. It is important.

Anatomy: Do all CT scan like Head and Neck CT scan and MRI of the thigh and arm. Do all important imaging of all parts of the body as even coronary artery angiography labelling is important

Physiology: The endocrine system and changes in blood parameters with disease are important. Like you should know that there is hypeglycemia in pheochromocytoma. I am not asking you to just knows the basic but rather know the indepth information with understanding.

Microbiology: Oh my god ! You need to know even the things like worms and the identification via only image. Like if i put image of tenia solium you should know it. You should know to differentiate with tenia saginatum. One is having suckers and other is not having. You should know how to identify bacteria from the stain sample only. Know the agars and how they look. Anti-microbial drugs is very important topic for USMLE Step 1 test.

Biochem: Know glycogen storage diseases well. Know lysosomal storage diseases. Know the genetics and molecular biology well as it is super HY.

Pharmacology: rote memory field. Its all HY. Especially UW + FA atleast you should know word for word. Dont slack do it 100% and it is score enhancing field.

Pathology: I can’t say much. It is all so important. Know the histological images of pathological conditions well. Know the tie-in of genetics and biochem and anatomy with pathology. Everyone does the physiology and pathology and pharmacology together, but very few are able to know things like: Most common ectopic tissue in Meckel’s diverticulum (outpouching of midgut) is normally found in which part of gut ? Meckel itself is from the ileum and hence it is midgut outpouching but the most common ectopic tissue in it is from gastric mucosa and unlike the Meckel’s diverticulum, the gastric mucosal ectopic tissue is actually normally from the foregut as stomach is from foregut. So you maybe given signs and symptoms of Meckel’s diverticulum as pathology but then asked something of another subject. So know to tie in things.

There are all important topics and guidance. In my opinion you can do it if i can do it anyone can. Work hard and believe god will show you the path. Best luck. 🙂

September 24, 2018

Insane 276 USMLE Step 1 Experience – Must Read

USMLE Step 1 270

USMLE Step 1 276

Hello dear future doctors:

My name is Medhat Farwati, a graduate from the University of Aleppo, and I would like to write about my humble Step 1 experience.

At first, I want to tell you about my experience “as it is” with its positives and negatives and at the end I will tell you about the things I think I should have done differently….

I started studying for the board exams relatively late starting half of second semester of 5th year and I spent 2 years studying for Step 1 with many ONs & OFFS because of end of semester exams, national exams, and graduation paperwork. This means that my studying can be generally divided into 3 phases:

PHASE 1: Pre-graduation phase (Phase of building the foundations):

At first, I went through  Kaplan Lecture Notes for USMLE Step 1 twice (videos only once with the first pass) for all the subjects (except for Pathology) and here I did UWORLD once along with second pass of Kaplan.

For pathology, I did Fundamentals of Pathology – Hussein Sattar (Pathoma) with Rapid Review Pathology by Edward Goljan at the same time (I used to watch Dr. Sattar’s videos) who’s one of the best tutors for his ability to explain concepts in an unprecedented way. After that, I would read the respective chapter in Pathoma followed by the respective chapter in Goljan. Despite the fact that Goljan seemed like a big textbook, didn’t find it difficult to go through it since I already covered and understood most of the points in Pathoma and Goljan only added few additional points.

After that point, I started First Aid (which means late) and I copied the important points from Kaplan and UWORLD to my First Aid (and here was my second pass of UWORLD).

PHASE 2: Post-graduation phase (Duration of 4 months: Phase of actual focused studying):

Here, I started getting deep into understanding First Aid in all of its details until I understood all the points instead of blindly memorizing those points. Note that I did not study all of the resources that I will list shortly from cover to cover but I used them to understand the subjects that I thought I was weak in.

  • Behavioral Sciences: I used 100 cases for Conrad Fischer (Kaplan USMLE Medical Ethics)
  • Physiology: I used Physiology by Linda Costanzo to understand respiratory + cardiovascular + renal +GI systems physiology
  • Anatomy: I used the High Yield Gross Anatomy in addition to a beautiful small book called Shelf Anatomy
  • Pharmacology: I used Conrad Fischer’s Master the Boards USMLE Step 1 Pharmacology Flashcards. At times, I also used the internet to understand some of the concepts. Here also, I copied most of the important points to my First Aid.

PHASE 3: Pre-exam phase (Duration of 3 months: Phase of reaching 270+)

It is the phase of “putting it all together” and connecting all the information acquired during the past 2 phases most of which are present in my First Aid USMLE Step 1 by now. I mainly used the internet during this phase especially Wikipedia + Medscape + UpToDate in addition to several other websites that contained useful Step 1 material and could be easily found via Google.

I repeated First aid 3 times during this phase (once every month) and each time it took me at least one full month to go through it since I added additional information and new concepts to increase my knowledge every time I did FA. (In other words, I tried to add new concepts instead of focusing on the old stuff that was repeated more than once and that wasn’t going to add anything to my knowledge).

Now, I am going to state the mistakes that I did so that you don’t fall into doing them again:

1- Starting late with board studying due to not setting goals from the beginning 4 I advise you to set your goals early on and start studying for Step 1 starting 3rd year.

2- Not copying the important points from Kaplan and UWORLD during the first reading of First Aid which forced me to do the job twice and waste time 4 Copy everything to First Aid from the first reading.

3- Starting late with First Aid 4 I advise you to start early as follows: First go through the Kaplan videos, then First Aid for USMLE Step 1, and finally the Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes books in addition to the important points from First Aid).

4- Rote memorization of First Aid without real comprehension from the first reading 4 Try to understand most of the points in First Aid from the first reading so that you save a lot of time for later on).

At the end, I would like to emphasize that every person has his own way of studying and that there is not a perfect studying method… I advise you to ask about others’ experiences and make good use of them, but at the end

Do it your own unique way!! Be yourself, everyone else is already taken!!



RESOURCES USED (Click to check it out):

+ Kaplan Lecture Notes for USMLE Step 1

+ First Aid for USMLE Step 1

+ Fundamentals of Pathology – Hussein Sattar (Pathoma)

+  Physiology by Linda Costanzo

+ Rapid Review Pathology

+ 100 cases for Conrad Fischer (Kaplan USMLE Medical Ethics)

+ High Yield Gross Anatomy

+  Conrad Fischer’s Master the Boards USMLE Step 1 Pharmacology Flashcards

If this experience helped you, we recommend you check out the following experiences:

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 247 – US Medical Student 2

US MS2 – USMLE Step 1 Experience – 257

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 256 – American Medical Student

September 21, 2018

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 272 – Dr. Khawaja

USMLE STEp 1 272 - Pakistan

USMLE STEp 1 272 – Pakistan

Dr. Rahmi Khawaja


I was an average student in medical college and hence my background is irrelevant to USMLE score. I started preparing steps 2 years after medical college was over. Hence whatever little I had studied in medical college was wiped clean and i had to start afresh. I took 1.5 years to prepare for this exam which is much more than most people but i wanted to score high on my exam and hence was willing to put in the extra effort.


I started my preparation with DIT and First Aid USMLE Step 1 and Fundamentals of Pathology – Dr. Hussain Sattar. You might wonder why I started out with these 2 books.. The reason was that they give a fast past review of the entire curriculum. I like to have a bird’s eye view of the course before i start preparing. So i did DIT and FA first. Believe me the course is very nice and if you try to memorize the FA well by doing with DIT and googling simultaneously then i am sure you will learn a lot of stuff.  I also did Kaplan Lecture Notes for USMLE Step 1 sporadically and not continuously because I did not find the books to be very helpful. I found Biochem and Immunology Kaplan books to be helpful but not all of the books were helpful. Once I was done with these.. I started doing UW questions. I did them tutor subjectwise the first time round and got 84% correct. I did them subjectwise because i felt that it would be more beneficial to me to do the questions subjectwise while also simultaneously doing the texts.

Once i was done with this, I went on to the following:

Kaplan Medical Ethics 100 cases by Conrad Fischer

BRS Gross Anatomy

BRS Physiology

I then started to do NBME retired forms as i wanted to see where i stand. I did these NBME forms at a pace of 1 form per week.. I would do the NBME tests (aka forms) one per week and then do the answers and explanations in the rest of the week. This was very helpful as I was getting a lot of practice and these questions are actually very helpful in the test too as there are repeats.

Subsequently, I started doing UW for a second time.. I got 97% correct because i already knew most of the stuff.

I then started doing the rest of the NBME tests. I made sure that i do them in a perfect testing environment to simulate the real deal.

NBME scores were between mid 250s to mid 260s. I never got a 270 on my NBME forms and never in my wildest imagination did i think i will score that much.

Real Deal:

Exam was tough but do-able. The questions were from the topics i had studied albeit presented in a difficult manner. Work hard and you will score well. Journey is tough but not impossible.

September 16, 2018

Rajesh’s USMLE Step 1 – 271 Experience

Rajesh’s USMLE Step 1 Experience

Video Lectures and Books used:

First Aid USMLE Step 1

High Yield Gross Anatomy

High Yield Behavioural Science

Conrad Fischer’s 100 Most Likely cases Kaplan Medical Ethics

Fundamentals of Pathology (Pathoma) – Dr. Hussain Sattar’s book



Kaplan Qbank


All 3000 NBME questions

NBME Scores:

NBME 15 – 248

NBME 16 – 257

NBME 17 – 265

NBME 18 – 267

I did all 15 NBMEs (Retired i.e. Offline as well as Online).. above scores are of the online ones.

General Prep Style:

First I finished reading FA & Pathoma end – to – end. Only after that did i read books if needed. My method of preparation was different. I had a question-centric approach to my studies. While First Aid was my main book.. I only referred to the other books as and when i needed them when i did not know something in a Qbank and needed to refer to text.. I would use the books and would Google for the topic. But the main modus operandi I used was: Questions, Questions and Questions !! I would do a block of random questions in a question bank. Then i would read the answers + explanations carefully. I would use other resources i.e. books and google.. only if i did not understand anything in the qbanks. If i understood..I would annotate whatever smal amount was must – annotate into FA. I would not annotate everything. In this way, my style of preparation was much different. But i think it was a better style of preparation. I concentrated on questions…including NBME. NBME doesn’t declare correct answer + explanation as we all know. But i did it from the explanations compiled by previous students and in that way i did all 3000 questions. It was very helpful.

USMLE Step 1 Exam Day Experience:

I slept well before the exam and i was at peak performance in exam.. I did each block and took a break. I neever wanted to do blocks back to back as my brain kinda freezes if i do many questions together. So i did all the blocks and then in between took 5 mins of break. I recommend memorizing all the Lab Values in the front of First Aid USMLE Step 1 book so that in the exam you dont have to waste time to see the Lab Values part of the software repeatedly as in almost every other question they will have lab values and it is a wastage of time. Also, I recommend you not to study in the day before the test as it is unnecessary strain. Prepare well in advance and take last day as a break. It is not wise to strain in the end as believe me you will recall everything even from years ago. Relaxing and having a rested mind is key to a great score.

September 16, 2018

Susan’s USMLE Step 1 Experience – 274

USMLE Step 1 274

USMLE Step 1 274


Susan’s USMLE Step 1 Experience – 274

I am a MS2 from a mid tier school. Scored above average in class but prepared for USMLE from the get go. I did however, try to understand everything taught in class and it was very helpful for my exam. The exam can’t be aced exclusively using test prep resources and class notes are also very helpful in getting questions right on the exam.

I prepared quite a bit before my dedicated USMLE study period of 6 weeks. That obviously helped my score immensely as even before my dedicated study period I was already scoring 240s on my NBME

Pre-dedicated study:

I used First Aid USMLE Step 1 with class notes throughout medical school. It was immensely helpful as I had a grip over most of the USMLE topics even before my dedicated period of 6 weeks started.

I also used the following resources:

  • BRS Gross Anatomy
  • BRS Embryology
  • BRS Behavioural Scieence
  • BRS Physiology
  • Pathoma
  • Doctors in Training USMLE Step 1
  • USMLE Rx Qbank
  • Memorang (I didn’t use Anki as i felt that creating cards myself was a tedious and time consuming task.. So i opted for using a pre-made flash card source and i found Memorang decent for getting the hard to nail facts of FA)

The only important resource i did not use was UWorld as I wanted to keep it for dedicated study period.

I also did all the retired NBME forms. The NBME forms were an amazing practice and i had a lot of repetitions on my real exam from them. I recommend everyone to get these done well as it is very very useful for the test. The questions in my opinion are an accurate representation of what would be asked on the real exam. The topics in the real test are in the same line as those asked in the NBME. The only difference I found between NBME and the real USMLE were:

  • The curve of the real USMLE is much more lenient as compared to the NBME forms. What does this mean ? It means that getting 7 questions wrong on the NBME could make a difference between mid 260s and below 250. Meaning that just 7-8 wrong questions and you will be in below 240 zone instead of over 260 zone. A huge difference IMO. That is not the case on the real deal and the scoring curve is much more lenient.
  • Another difference between the NBME and the real USMLE is the fact that the USMLE questions were much more lengthier. There was often a lot of redundant information thrown in the midst. What this means is that even though a bunch of plasma values were worthless in the actual answering of the question…they would still be put in there.. Why these were in there is anyone’s guess but my hunch says that they were there perhaps to waste our time and perhaps to confuse us.

In any case, the NBME questions are a better representation of the real deal than UWorld primarily because UWorld often made me overthink stuff..Like I would find a weird logic to justify a wrong answer on the real deal had i answered in the same format as i answered UWorld. The reason being that it felt almost as though every other Uworld question was a trick or a trap made to trip us..and we had to overthink a lot on the UWorld Qbank. This was not the case in the real deal and many a times (pretty much always).. the obvious answer was the right answer. This might seem like a small thing but i urge you to think well as to how you approach questions.. The right approach to answering questions is just as important…if not more important than the actual info needed to get it right. Many a times in my practicr tests i got questions wrong because i picked the over-thought answer. Go for the obvious one. It works. For this reason DOING ALL THE NBMEs WITH THE EXPLANATION FOR THE RIGHT AND THE WRONG ANSWER IS A MUST.

I found patho-histology tough and for that i think Fundamentals of Pathology (by Hussain Sattar) is a great book and a must read. The videos are also amazing as he explains the histological findings along with the reasoning behind why the histological appearance is the way it is.


Dedicated Study Period:
As i mentioned I had already done all  of the important resources except UWorld in my pre-dedicated study period. So i went into my dedicated period with a 2 month subscription of Uworld. It was very helpful to do UWorld in timed and random mode as it emulated the real deal. However, I would advise you to use this approach only if you have done questions previously. I had done USMLE Rx in my pre-dedicated period and I had also done the retired NBMEs in my pre-dedicated period. This helped me a lot and hence i was able to do Uworld timed and random in just 4 weeks. I got 84% in Uworld timed, random mode.

For the rest of the dedicated period I did topics that were weak in the above mentioned books. I also did my incorrect questions from UWorld again. And i also finished my NBMEs (I had the online ones left..).

– Exam day:

I did my first 2 blocks back to back.. Then 10 mins break before third block.. Then light lunch and snacks between 3rd and 4th block. For the remainder blocks i just did like couple mins break between blocks.

– Waiting for results:

This felt like an eternity. The 3 weeks to get the results were the most terrifying ones in my life. I felt like I was having PTSD. Many nights i would wake up in the middle of the night feeling that i left 20 questions on my test in the last block because i did not have enough time. I had never had such an issue in my life.. But i don’t know what happened.. I found myself crying in a corner somedays.. Wondering what i did in my test. The exam was the toughest in my exam and the protracted wait didn’t make things better.


Subject-wise guidance and tips to score high:

Anatomy: Focus on Images. Everything is about Images when it comes to Anatomy. MRIs, CT Scans, Angiographies, Venographies. Obscure radiology is also used..Like a weird angle of a radiograph of a not-so commonly scanned part of the body. Its all about IMAGES.

Physiology: It’s all about Up/Down arrow type questions. BRS Physiology does a good job at making sure we have these nailed down.

Biochemistry: Not very heavily tested at least for me. Do the diseases better. It’s more likely you would be tested on an abnormality of a pathway than the pathway itself.

Microbiology: This subject is all about memorization. I tried Sketchy and it was good. I advise you to memorize it well.

Pharmacology: Covered well in FA + UW. Memorize it well as i had trouble with having these nail these down.

Pathology: Pathoma + UW + FA was great.. I didn’t bother with Goljan. Though my Pathology was solid from med if your’s isn’t then maybe you should use it.

Behavioural Science: Forgot to mention that in addition to the books i mentioned I also did Conrad Fischer’s Kaplan Medical Ethics 100 questions. Its very useful.

September 15, 2018

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 260 – Pakistani IMG – Dr. Maleeha

USMLE Step 1 Experience - 260 - Pakistani IMG - Dr. Maleeha

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 260 – Pakistani IMG – Dr. Maleeha

Step 1 Experience

Exam Date: 27th Decemeber 2017
Result date: 17th January 2018
Actual score: 260 Alhamdulilah
Total Prep time: 6 months
Major sources: First Aid and Uworld plus Pathoma

My experience is all about sticking to uworld and First Aid. I started systemwise. Sytem from FA and then its uworld offline and writing extra on FA

Physiology: I used BRS for CVS, RESP and RENAL and then FA and UWORLD
Pathology: Pathoma 1 read, FA and UWORLD
Pharma: FA and Uworld
Anatomy: FA and uworld and shelf notes
Biochemistry: Dr turco lectures for Molecular and Genetics. Rest FA and uworld
Neuro: Dr white lectures and FA and uworld
Biostats: uworld review and FA
Ethics: Conrad fischer and uworld
Psychiatry: FA and uworld
Micro: FA and uworld
Immunology: FA and Uworld

Uworld 2 times. 1st offline. 2nd time online 82%
FA 5 times

Nbmes 1-7, 11 12 13 offline

Uwsa1: 251, 2 months before
Nbme 17: 228, 1.5 months
Free 120: 88% 1 month
Nbme 15: 246 1 month
Nbme 16: 248 20 days
Uwsa2: 264 11 days
Nbme 18: 24 mistakes (offline)
Nbme 19: 15 mistakes (offline)
Last 2 nbmes on same day 4 days before exam.

As you can see none of my nbmes were above 250
Only uwsa1 and uwsa2
Exam was more like uwsa2
80% questions were straight doable
10% hard
10% out of nowhere
Exam day perfomance matters alot. I slept well. No tension or panic during exam. Marked 2 3 questions per block. Took a break after EVERY block. Washroom, eat something, drink something.
Finished the exam with 30 min to spare.
Just stay confident and dont stress out on exam day
Success is indeed by Allah

September 12, 2018

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 271

usmle step 1 271 Experience 1

usmle step 1 271 Experience 1


Farhaan al-Mustafa


Dear friends, this experience i hope helps you just like your experiences in the past have helped me. When i started home country Iraq was in chaos so we had to flee to UAE.. So i did my USMLE while i was in UAE.. I had to go through a lot of hardships to reach where i had reached.. so this experience.. I hope it helps you to prepare USMLE in a more streamlined way. hen i started preparing for USMLE i did not even have any help from anyone in Abu Dhabi as i only had some non-medico relatives here.. I did not have any colleagues and any seniors who i knew here to guide me.. So whatever help i got was by reading other people’s experiences share don the USMLE forums.. i am thankful to everyone who helped me in this journey..including some friends i made in the way..i.e. my homies: Musheer al-Yamin, Isaam el-Majeed, Alawi al-Zaman !! Thanks bros.. your support helped me through this tough journey..


My journey was interrupted in the middle because i had to move to UAE from IRAQ.. so i studied for 5 months in IRAQ and then i had to go to UAE.. i studied for 7 more months in UAE… but had a 2 month break in between which destroyed my rythm.. whether you are in a condition like me or you are in a better condition..i recommend you to not take a break as taking one destroys our tempo and destroys the momentum in prep time..

So i started out with Kaplan lec notes + videos.. I also did Pathoma and FA with Kaplan… I did all this in the first 5 months in IRAQ.. I had planned that i will give test in 7 months.. but boy was i mistaken.. After doing just theory and no questions for 5 months i gave an NBME and i bombed it.. i got just 220s in it.. I thought that i will finish this exam and then i will go to USA.. but it was impossible for me after this terrible NBME.. so i went to UAE.. It was better in UAE and i prepared peacefully there.. First i started doing UW.. and i realised soon that in this exam there is simple equation:

Guys.. thats the secret formula nothing else.. because you have higher chance of a topic repeating in the test if you have dont the topics in the past..if you have seen a  question once you will likely not forget it..theory you can forget but not questions..thats just how our minds are hard wired whether we like it or not.. at least mine is..

so i did UW…Kaplan Qbank..USMLE Rx.. and Becker Qbank.. I also did 3000 questions of NBME.. If i had to redo it.. I would say following is the priority you should have:

NBME >> UW > KaplanQbank > USMLE Rx == Becker

that is decreasing order of priority according to me..

So i did Questions + FA + little bit i would refer to the books here and there if need be.. but primarily i was just doing questions..

I recommend you to do the same..
Now when it comes to questions of NBME :

An important thing is that it is created by the USMLE organization.. It is the same body that creates your exam.. Guys.. the organization creating the questions of your exam has made a Qbank of sorts divided into 15 tests of 200 questions each.. I see every day people go crazy about UWorld.. but what they dont get is that is the most important organization and it has 3000 questions !!! I recommend you do each and every question with utmost it is the most important questions.. You should do correct answer explanation along with incorrect ones too.. I recommend to give 2 months minimum for NBME.. ignore NBME at your own peril.. It is a must do..

So having said that i bid you best of luck.. according to me secret sauce of USMLE is questions prep.. Make sure you know FA UW NBME very very well.. do it inside out.. thats all needed to win !!

September 1, 2018