The NBME (National Board Of Medical Examiners) Test forms are a series of 4 block tests conducted at a cost of $60 to test USMLE exam readiness for potential examinees. The score received on the NBME forms is highly predictive of the real exam and is a good metric to gauge how well is your preparation. While the NBME is a good proxy to the USMLE score and is a must-do for USMLE preparation, there are certain differences that one should be aware of. I have in the past written an article on How to Best Use the NBME ? In this article I highlight those differences which are frequently overlooked by many. Being aware of these differences will better prepare you for what’s in store for exam day. Additionally every potential issue is followed by a solution to help you test yourself in an environment that best emulates a real exam:
The NBME tests are given at your home, in a familiar surrounding. You have a fridge full of your favorite food, can get up and grab a snack while giving the test and are in a comfortable surrounding. You can keep your feet up on the table and give the exam as you please all while checking your favourite cat photo pages on Facebook.
This changes completely in the USMLE Prometric exam center. Instead of being at ease, you are constantly forced to do a security check, patted down, fingerprint scanned and signed entry and exit. All of this adds to the high pressure situation and is uncomfortable.
We perform best when the situation is under our control. When we give the exam in the Prometric center, the same brain which performed well at home is under an immense amount of stress. Stress that may be caused by having to travel out of town, given an exam under unfamiliar surroundings, carrying documentations, and taking the test under strict security. In addition to this, if i may share my own experience, i was giving the test along with examinees who needed to type for their exam (like the GMAT, IELTS, etc). Their noise disturbed me a lot. In addition to this i had to tolerate the constant sniffing and coughing of a girl giving the test next to me. All of this lead to unnecessary irritation and distraction.
Because the real test was not a very comfortable experience, i made sure i emulate this. I took 2 NBME tests back to back every time i gave a mock test. I considered my score as a mean of the 2 tests. I have a little sister who plays with toys, i asked her to be in the room while i gave the NBME tests. In addition to emulating the noise distractions, i also prepared a small snacks packet including a sandwich and chips and 2 Red Bulls. I gave the exam with the snack pack on a table next to me. After every block i would get up and take a break if i wanted to. I would time my breaks and make sure that i don’t take more than the alloted time. This method of testing in uncomfortable situations helped me simulate the real exam environment
The real exam is 7 blocks whereas the NBME is only 4 hours in length. While the vast majority of people take only 1 NBME a day, this overestimates our performance. The reason is : In the early hours of a test we are fresh and perform better. However after 7 hours in an 8 hour exam, our brain starts to fatigue out and hence a 4 hour test is not rigorous enough to emulate a 8 hour test.
As alluded to previously, i took 2 NBME tests back to back in order to emulate a real testing environment. This was actually very helpful as i usually scored lesser in my second NBME as compared to my first one. I would take the average of the 2 tests as my mock test score.
The NBME questions are notoriously short. This is not the case with the real exam. While in most NBME tests, the questions are direct and to the point, in the real exam questions are filled with tons of labs which do not necessarily have anything to do with question but are kept in there to confuse you and use up your time. (NBME Lab Values are provided in every NBME just like USMLE Step 1 provides Lab Values)
The Uworld questions are of a similar length as the actual exam and since most people are going to do UWorld not once but multiple times, we already have decent practice with longer question formats. One extra tip i used to decrease time spent to solve a question and make longer questions easier is to not use the UWorld or NBME labs value button and instead memorize ALL the normal lab values. Following is a list of the lab values which you need to memorize for Step 1 , Step 2 as well as the for the clinics in the future when you are in a residency. Make sure you memorize these. The NBME lab values are same as the USMLE Step 1 Lab Values. Following is a list of the lab values which you can access from every NBME:
The real exam has a lot of media items which are not on the question sets of the NBME. For example, there are no 12 Lead ECGs on the NBME tests. There are only Single (1 lead) ECGs in the NBME tests. In a 12 lead ECG we have to pick out an aberrant finding from all the leads. The NBME forms have ECG questions with just 1 lead in the question. This makes the questions incredibly easy and hence are not a good proxy to the actual USMLE because the real USMLE has multiple questions with 12 lead ECGs. For example, you may encounter a practice question in an NBME of a single lead ECGs like an ECG segment with a clear cut T wave elevation (for hyperkalemia) [SEE IMAGE BELOW].
Now this is incredibly easy to diagnose as your options are narrowed down to just one lead. Had the question been a 12 lead ECG the difficulty level would have been very high. I recommend you practice 12 lead ECGs [Like the Below Image] to emulate the real exam scenario.
Also, the heart sounds in the real exam are not like those in UWorld or NBME and don’t have a simple, single play button. Instead they have different auscultation sites [AS SHOWN IN IMAGE] and then it is on you to find out where the abnormal sound is located.
The reason this is important to note is that the heart sounds you practice will have a simple play button with the abnormal area already given to you. This narrows down the choices sometimes to just 2-3 diseases and doing such questions will create a false feeling of being good at these diagnoses. However, the reality is that the questions on heart sounds in the practice tests like UWorld and NBME are MUCH MUCH easier than the real exam and hence
For example, having a single button which says, Apex area sound is as follows decreases the difficulty level a lot in the NBME questions. But many people find it very tough and frustrating while trying to diagnose a multiple site heart auscultation in the real exam. Following is how the heart sounds are to be diagnosed in the real test (excerpt from Official USMLE Practice Materials):
Note that there are multiple auscultation zones and diagnosing the above scenario should be practiced many times before the real exam.
While the NBME forms are the closest you can get to the actual USMLE exam style and scenario, it is worth keeping in mind the differences between the 2. These differences may prove to be much bigger problems than anticipated, if not mitigated in advance. A lot of your USMLE score will depend not on your preparation but on your test day performance. I would suggest you keep this page bookmarked to refer to later. It will definitely payoff to have these in mind.
NBME self assessment tests are an Enigma to many USMLE students….
But do they really need to be complicated ?
This article will answer EVER question you have ever had about the NBME tests and bust all the myths about the NBME forms. Use this and you will surely improve your score by 30-40 points as i have improved my score.
The NBME self assessment exams (also known commonly as the NBME Tests of NBME Forms or NBME Test Forms) are a set of tests for USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK and Step 3. These tests are widely known to closely approximate the actual exam and have a very high PREDICTIVE value. This article will show you how to use these tests not just as a predictive tool but also as a learning tool. There is a lot of mystery around how to use the NBME forms ? When to give the NBME Practice Tests ? etc. This article will solve all your queries about NBMEs. This article has been written by a student who has scored over 260 on his USMLE. I recommend you READ THIS POST COMPLETELY… It may help you score maybe 15-20 points more at the least. You can skip the basic parts if you know and go down to the last few headings.
➣ What are the NBME Forms ?
The NBME is the organization which makes the USMLE Step exams. While the USMLE Step 1 has more than 300 questions each NBME form has just 200 questions. The forms are meant to be roughly gauge your potential on the actual exam. They can be bought on the NBME website for $50 (basic) & $60 (extended feedback). In basic you get just the final score. In extended feedback you get the questions you got incorrect. In neither do you get the questions you got correct with the correct answer.
➣ How many NBME forms are there & how many questions ?
There are 15 NBME test forms, however, they are not sequentially numbered. There is NBME 1, NBME 2, NBME 3, NBME 4, NBME 5, NBME 6, NBME 7, NBME 11, NBME 12, NBME 13, NBME 15, NBME 16, NBME 17, NBME 18, NBME 19 There there is no NBME 8, 9, 10, 14.. so there are 15 NBMEs in total with 200 questions in each. Hence, there are 3000 questions. The NBME forms in themselves thus represent the largest and most important question bank. 3000 questions of NBME are larger than UWorld or Kaplan or Becker. The importance of this should not be underestimated. Forms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11,12 are not available online anymore and the only way to do these are to see the screenshots pdf which are circulating. Forms 13 and later are available online and it is a good idea to give atleast a couple online. Because of the reason that some of the NBME tests are not available online, many USMLE students have this question “How many NBME tests are there ?”. I hope this solves the problem of how many NBME exams are there.
➣ NBME Lingo – What is Online vs Offline NBME ?
On forums you will see people say I did 6 NBME tests online and 7 offline or something like that. What it means is: Online = You pay and you buy the test via NBME website Offline= You don’t pay and you do it via screenshots pdf (i.e. screenshot version).
PROs and CONs of each : Online you can give the test in a controlled environment and the test will be timed. Offline you can give it in a similar way too but you have to setup your timer and be precise with timing. Online you pay, offline you don’t. Online you get only test forms 13, 15, 16 , 17, 18,19. Rest 9 forms.. i.e. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,11,12 have to be done offline only as the NBME sells only 6 at a time. So you decide whichever you want..online or offline. I was just explaining the lingo as sometimes people don’t understand it. Online : Paid, Offline : Free.. this is basic meaning.
When you give it offline use following formula:
Total correct questions out of 200 multiplied by 1.39 and that will give you the score as online roughly.. plus or minus 2 points..
So 180 correct out of 200 makes it 250 approx. score.. This is quite accurate actually..
➣ What is the difficulty level and question pattern of the NBME forms with respect to actual USMLE ?
While no one can give a precise answer to this as the USMLE does not divulge their questions and neither are people allowed to talk about it but following is a rough non-specific general idea. The real USMLE questions are a bit longer than the NBME questions. The core concept is the same but sometimes they may put extra information in there. Like instead of saying that a person has hyperuricemia perhaps an entire panel of lab values may be given and then finally Uric acid is given somewhere in the list. It is same concept but they make it lengthy by putting irrelevant info to make you feel like it is tougher.
➣ What is the usage of the NBME Forms ?
The NBME forms may be used for 2 purposes: Assessment & Learning.
➣ How best to use the NBME questions as an ASSESSMENT TOOL to IMPROVE YOUR SCORE ?
NBME tests are highly predictive of not just the actual USMLE score but also of subjects and sections within subjects you may be weak at.
For example : After taking your first NBME, you see the subject areas you are weak in are Behavioural Sciences and Neuro Anatomy. You look at the exact questions you got incorrect and see that the Behavioural Sciences questions are all Patient – Physician Relations (PPR). If the Neuro Anatomy questions which are incorrect are related to brainstem cross sections & brainstem syndromes.. then from the above two you can deduce that you need to focus on those 2 parts specifically. If before the next test you prepare these 2 areas well (and anything else you were getting wrong questions on) then your score will likely improve. I know this because i did this and my score improved from mid 230s to mid 260s over the course of 4 online NBMEs i gave (and many offline). When you assess yourself and look at the incorrect questions it is essential that you look at them in an objective way.
You could be facing one of the following mistakes:
WAYS TO MITIGATE THE ABOVE PROBLEMS :
➣ How best to use the NBME questions as a LEARNING TOOL to IMPROVE YOUR SCORE ?
Now I will let you in on a big secret: While the NBME is not providing any answers or explanations to their questions. A group of top scorers who have got more than 270 on their test have created an answer & explanations list which has everything explained in depth. I did this after every NBME. I would do an NBME and then i would do answers and explanations. The answers and explanations were unbelievably good. As good or even better than UWorld answers and explanations. I recommend you do this for sure. The value of this great resource is underestimated. Guys 3000 questions & answers of amazing content ! Questions are made by USMLE themselves and many people including myself who did the NBMEs in depth before their exam felt that the NBMEs an amazing resource for exam prep. If someone tells you NBMEs aren’t that helpful after their exam you ask them whether they had really done it well.. whether they really understand slipped strand DNA mismatch abnormality & they really know the differences between Pelger Huet and Pseudo Pelger Heut anomaly..these both are in NBME as options.. you must dissect NBME inside out..not just read superficially. Many people will give you an opinion that it’s not so helpful..but make sure you ask them well and understand if they had actually done this resource well or had just glanced over randomly. I believe that doing the 3000 questions is the SOLE reason for me going from 230s to 260s.
➣ Where can I get Answers and Explanation to the NBMEs ?
Previously there were no concrete 100% correct answers and explanations.. I have seen the circulating pdfs.. every one of them has atleast 5% or more incorrect answers. Many have more. Some even give incorrect explanation and incorrect logic to incorrect answer choice. There is one team of 270s and 260s scorers working on the explanations.. they have posted it for free online on their own websites..so make sure you join the following group and page it has the links to answers and explanations. 10 or so people are involved…it is a group initiative. Go to following FB Group & FB Page. Answers are available there:
➣ When should we use the NBME tests / Timing of when to do the NBME questions ?
People do not do the NBME questions till the very end. It is so prevalent among the USMLE community that it feels almost like an epidemic. Guys, NBME is same organization which makes USMLE. When we all have heard how people get many repeats from the NBME directly onto their actual exam then why would we ignore this amazing resource ? This is my recommendation. It is what I have done and it is what I believe everyone should do. It s what helped me get a 264. Give NBME s early on and don’t wait till then end. I have seen people try to do all 3000 questions & answers with explanations in 1 week and sometimes I laugh (i know i shouldn’t laugh but it is hilarious).. Guys change your thinking..as USMLE and the match process gets tougher and tougher every year we need to understand that taking such a valuable resource lightly and not adapting to change is a mistake. Darwin once said: “it is not the strongest nor the most intelligent of a species that survives but the most adaptable to change”. Adapt and win or ignore and lose.. your choice.. If people really follow a proper system then they can score so high that 260s will become a regular phenomenon.. It is not that tough if you plan. Just every week for the last 4 months… on a weekend do one NBME.. But make sure you do all the answers along with explanations which i talked about above. The explanations have some hidden gems from which many questions are repeated on the real test. So this should be a ideal plan: start form number 1 and go to 19.. this way you have 15 total and you can do for like 3.5 months. Ever week you must assess yourself & then do the explanations with it.. you must try and understand your mistakes. What areas you are weak in.. being blindfolded and having AK – 47 gun in your hand if you go to war you may lose against someone with a small pocket knife in their hand. You don’t want to be shooting in wrong direction. Doing easy stuff repeatedly but not recognizing one’s mistakes can be fatal. Also, don’t keep NBME till last, if you don’t have time at the end you will feel that you will not be able to do anything new and then you will not do NBME at all. I have seen so many people who make such mistakes. Do it from a while ago. Many people do NBME in last month. I kept last month without NBME.. You may think how is this possible..well let me tell you..i finished all NBME in 3 months..then in that time i assessed my weakness and gradually improved my score from 230s to 260s.. in last month I knew myself and my prep inside out.. I knew what I had to do..what is frequently asked questions and how to prepare. I see people fumble at last moment. I was at peak on my test day. Doing NBME 3 days before exam will cause only one thing: Anxiety… think about it.. you wanna score 260..havent given single NBME till last month.. you give and get 240s.. you work hard and think you will improve..now 3 days before exam you give another test and get 230s.. then what will happen to your confidence ? It will be finished.. do it early ! At last moment don’t assess.. Assess in advance..and prepare in advance.. Have you seen Troy ? Did you see Achilles (Brad Pitt’s role) do bench press 15 minutes before going to fight ? Have you heard any great athlete like Mohammed Ali try to do revision 2 minutes before a world championship ? They may warm up.. but will not be actually trying to like grow muscle 1 week before a fight.. Prepare in advance folks.. at last moment everything you think can go wrong..might all go wrong at once..and it would be tough to give test in such high stress environment.. Sleep is essential too.. so last few days..my rule was..no exam..no test.. only revise the stuff already done..can’t be doing all that and causing anxiety to yourself.. Well this is my advise.. If you think you know a better method..then by all means..do your style.. but just remember.. Achilles never bench pressed a day before going to war.. you cant grow muscle at last moment..its all long term kinda thing.. Do all NBME along with answers and explanations in advance ! 🙂
➣ Ending Notes:
Do the the NBME forms from the beginning and use them for self improvement as stated in the list of mistakes one may do. Analyse yourself objectively. Analyse where you stand and how you can improve. Understand that a lower score is a product of lower level of planning usually and hard work can mitigate all problems. Just work hard and you will make it. I will be posting more. I hope this helps you.
NBME predictive value depends on the number of the NBME exam. The answer to the question of “NBME predictive value” depends on WHICH NBME test you are talking about. In general the newer NBME Forms are having a higher degree of predictive power than the older NBMEs. People also have questions like which one is better: NBME 13 vs NBME 15. Or NBME 16 vs NBME 17 vs NBME 19. So to solve all these questions we have made this section of the article. Following useful info on NBME test forms:
NBME 1 is the oldest exam and hence the NBME 1 predictive value is much lower than the predictive value of newer tests and also NBME 1 difficulty level is easy. If you want the NBME 1 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 1 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 1 answer key here. NBME 1 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of low predictive value of NBME 1 when comparing NBME 1 vs real exam score, NBME 1 tends to over predict your score.
NBME 2 is the second oldest exam and hence the NBME 2 predictive value is much lower than the predictive value of newer tests and also NBME 2 difficulty level is quite easy. If you want the NBME 2 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 2 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 2 answer key here. NBME 2 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of low predictive value of NBME 2 when comparing NBME 2 vs real exam score, NBME 2 tends to over predict your score significantly.
NBME 3 is also an old exam and hence the NBME 3 predictive value is lower than the predictive value of newer tests and also NBME 3 difficulty level is relatively easy. If you want the NBME 3 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 3 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 3 answer key here. NBME 3 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of low predictive value of NBME 3 when comparing NBME 3 vs real exam score, NBME 3 tends to over predict your score.
NBME 4 is an old exam and hence the NBME 4 predictive value is much lower than the predictive value of newer tests and also NBME 4 difficulty level is easy. If you want the NBME 4 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 4 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 4 answer key here. NBME 4 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of low predictive value of NBME 4 when comparing NBME 1 vs real exam score, NBME 4 tends to over predict your score.
NBME 5 is another old exam and hence the NBME 5 predictive value is much lower than the predictive value of newer tests and also NBME 5 difficulty level is easy. If you want the NBME 5 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 5 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 5 answer key here. NBME 5 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of okish predictive value of NBME 5 when comparing NBME 5 vs real exam score, NBME 5 tends to over predict your score.
NBME 6 is a moderately old exam and hence the NBME 6 predictive value is a bit lower than the predictive value of newer tests and also NBME 6 difficulty level is moderate. If you want the NBME 6 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 6 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 6 answer key here. NBME 6 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of average predictive value of NBME 6 when comparing NBME 6 vs real exam score, NBME 6 tends to be averagely predictive of your USMLE Step 1 score.
NBME 7 is a slightly older exam and hence NBME 7 predictive value is a bit lower than the predictive value of newer tests and also NBME 7 difficulty level is a bit easier. If you want the NBME 7 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 7 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 7 answer key here. NBME 7 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of decent predictive value of NBME 7 when comparing NBME 7 vs real exam score, NBME 7 tends to be quite predictive to your real exam score.
NBME 11 is not very old offline NBME exam and hence the NBME 11 predictive value is pretty good as compared to the predictive value of newer tests and also NBME 11 difficulty level is average. If you want the NBME 11 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 11 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 11 answer key here. NBME 11 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of good predictive value of NBME 11 when comparing NBME 11 vs real exam score, NBME 11 tends to predict your score on real exam well.
NBME 12 is quite new exam and hence the NBME 12 predictive value is good and also NBME 12 difficulty level is decent. If you want the NBME 12 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 12 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 12 answer key here. NBME 12 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of good predictive value of NBME 12 when comparing NBME 12 vs real exam score, NBME 12 tends to over predict your real score well.
NBME 13 is a fairly new exam and hence the NBME 13 predictive value is very good as compared to the predictive value of newer tests and also NBME 13 difficulty level is very representative of the real test. If you want the NBME 13 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 13 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 13 answer key here. NBME 13 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of good predictive value of NBME 13 when comparing NBME 13 vs real exam score, NBME 13 tends to represent your real score.
NBME 15 is a new exam and hence the NBME 15 predictive value is very good and also NBME 15 difficulty level is representative of actual exam of USMLE Step 1. If you want the NBME 15 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 15 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 15 answer key here. NBME 15 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of good predictive value of NBME 15 when comparing NBME 15 vs real exam score, NBME 15 tends to predict your score well for USMLE Step 1 real exam.
NBME 16 is one of the newest exams and hence the NBME 16 predictive value is amongst the best among the predictive value of newer tests and also NBME 16 difficulty level is at par with the real deal. If you want the NBME 16 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 16 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 16 answer key here. NBME 16 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of very high predictive value of NBME 16 when comparing NBME 16 vs real exam score, NBME 16 tends to predict perfectly your score as it has predicted the score of many many people before.
NBME 17 is one of the newest exam and hence the NBME 17 predictive value is among the most predictive nbme tests and also NBME 17 difficulty level is very representative of the real exam. If you want the NBME 17 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 17 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 17 answer key here. NBME 17 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of great predictive value of NBME 17 when comparing NBME 17 vs real exam score, NBME 17 tends to perfectly predict your score.
NBME 18 is the second to newest exam and hence the NBME 18 predictive value is much higher than the predictive value of other tests and also NBME 18 difficulty level is well calibrated to the real USMLE Step 1. If you want the NBME 18 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 18 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 18 answer key here. NBME 18 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of great predictive value of NBME 18 when comparing NBME 18 vs real exam score, NBME 18 tends to predict your score perfectly.
NBME 19 is the newest exam and hence the NBME 19 predictive value is much more precise than the predictive value of other nbme tests and also NBME 19 difficulty level is quite hard. If you want the NBME 19 questions and answers, explanations online then you can do so by reading it here. If you want NBME 19 offline pdf then you can see the NBME 19 answer key here. NBME 19 number of wrong questions can be used subsequently to calculate the corresponding 3 digit score. Because of good predictive value of NBME 19 when comparing NBME 19 vs real exam score, NBME 19 tends to under predict your score.
Exam date – 31.08.17
Score – 268
Year of graduation – 2012.
Prep time- 1 year (while working). Last 6 weeks dedicated.
First Aid USMLE Step 1 – two times .
UWorld – once offline subject wise (did almost 70-80% of the available offline UW) . Online last 6 weeks .
These are the subject wise books\videos used apart from the above two-
Anatomy: anatomy shelf notes and half of Kaplan videos 2015 – Dr.White ( did these two in the last month ). Did High Yield Gross Anatomy, High Yield Embryology and High-Yield Neuroanatomy in the beginning of my prep- I think these books are NOT required.
Physiology: BRS physiology
Biochemistry: Kaplan lecture notes for USMLE Step 1
Pharmacology: Kaplan videos 2010
Pathology: Rapid Review Pathology by Edward Goljan book in the beginning of prep (do not recommend this) + Fundamentals of Pathology – Hussein Sattar (Pathoma) videos (last 2 months of prep)- highly recommend
Behavioural science: 2014 Kaplan videos + Kaplan lecture notes + 100 cases Conrad Fischer’s Kaplan USMLE Medical Ethics.
Biostatistics: Kaplan videos 2010 (Dr. Steve Daugherty) + Kaplan Lecture notes for USMLE Step 1
Microbiology: Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple + Kaplan notes for Immuno part + Immuno part of 2014 videos
NBME 18(online)- 8 months before exam : 209 (54 wrong)
NBME 1 – 6 months before exam: 38 questions wrong
NBME 2 – 5.5 months before exam: 25 wrong
NBME 16 (online) – 2 months before exam: 244 (21 wrong)
NBME 15- one month before – 24 wrong
NBME 19 (online)– ten days before exam- 250 (14 wrong)
UWSA 2 (online) 2 days before my exam – 264
I realized 2 things from my NBMEs
I started my prep in Sept 2016 and the first 4 months I was lost. I didn’t know how to study.
In December or January I started reading experiences and became a member of this FB forum. The exam experiences of previous test takers helped me a lot.
I started using Kaplan Step 1 Lecture Notes and offline UWorld.
I used to finish reading a subject from the books mentioned above and then do the corresponding part in First Aid for USMLE Step 1 and then the subject questions from offline UW.
This method remained the mainstay of my prep. I felt I needed to read or watch videos for each subject as I had forgotten a lot of basic science and then reinforced the subject by going through FA just so I was familiar with FA style. Used UW questions to know what they expect us to know and how they asked questions from each subject.
This method was slow. I was working nearly 10 hours 6 days a week and I managed one month per subject.
But I regularly took NBMEs to see if I was improving. Since I was, I continued with this method till the last 6 weeks.
Last 6 weeks- I finished First Aid USMLE Step 1 cover to cover once and did UW questions online.
I practiced 0ne block per day like an exam. Did it in random timed non tutor mode. My initial % was around 75 to 80. Went up to 90 to 100 by the end.
Even though ppl say we shouldn’t use UW as an assessment tool . I found their progress graphs\reports very helpful. They encouraged me because I knew my studying was helping me improve. And also I knew my embryology and anatomy were getting my scores down so I managed to do half of Kaplan videos as 1.5x speed in the last month. (Couldn’t finish due to lack of time- wish I had)
In the last one week I wanted to prep my mind and body to get used to sitting in one place and answering questions.
So I used the last 500 to 600 questions left in my UWorld q bank to help me do that. I did 4 blocks of 40 per day and then just went through explanations of the wrong or marked questions.
2 days prior to the test I took UWSA-2 as I had seen some experiences wherein it had predicted scores accurately. i was happy with what I got but felt I could do better as I had made silly mistakes because I was in a hurry to finish the test.
I took multiple short breaks during my day (even in the last 6 weeks of dedicated prep). Watched the entire game of thrones season 7 (could not resist) and modern family cause sometimes I felt too overwhelmed or just didn’t feel like studying. But I never let a single day go by where I hadn’t studied something. Even if it was an hour.
Felt de-stressed and also gulity after my break and used to study better.
Everybody is different. And therefore what may work for one person may not for another.
Find your path. Stumble and fall. Everybody does. But get up and keep working.
If you want it bad enough and work towards it. Nothing can stop you.
Thank your family for their support.
God bless and good luck everybody..
RESOURCES used to score a 268 on USMLE Step 1: + First Aid USMLE Step 1 + Kaplan lecture notes for USMLE Step 1 + Rapid Review Pathology by Edward Goljan + Fundamentals of Pathology – Hussein Sattar (Pathoma) + High Yield Gross Anatomy + High Yield Embryology + High-Yield Neuroanatomy + BRS physiology + Conrad Fischer’s Kaplan USMLE Medical Ethics + Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple
RESOURCES used to score a 268 on USMLE Step 1:
+ First Aid USMLE Step 1
+ Kaplan lecture notes for USMLE Step 1
+ Rapid Review Pathology by Edward Goljan
+ Fundamentals of Pathology – Hussein Sattar (Pathoma)
+ High Yield Gross Anatomy
+ High Yield Embryology
+ High-Yield Neuroanatomy
+ BRS physiology
+ Conrad Fischer’s Kaplan USMLE Medical Ethics
+ Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple
If this experience helped you, we recommend you check out the following experiences: