Category Archives for USMLE Step 1

Gowri Korpal – USMLE Step 1 Experience – 270

USMLE Experiences

USMLE Experiences

This experience has been submitted to website by the student doctor. If you would like to submit your experience please use the contact us page to do so. Make sure you look at the USMLE Code Of Conduct before submitting an experience. Thanks. 🙂

Books used:

Pathoma (Fundamentals of Pathology)

First Aid USMLE Step 1


BRS Behavioural Science

BRS Gross Anatomy

High Yield Gross Anatomy

BRS Embryology

Conrad Fischer’s 100 most commonly tested Ethics questions – Kaplan Medical Ethics

WebPath for images

Basic Preparation:

My preparation was divided into 2 parts: Basic and Advanced Preparation. The basic preparation component consisted of doing the basic books ( As the name suggested it was basic :p ). So i did First Aid USMLE, Pathoma and UWorld. These 3 are part of the commonly used acronym UFAP = UW + FA + Pathoma. I decided not to overload myself with tons of books and restricted to these books. While people do Kaplan Lecture Notes, All BRS and HY and Becker.. I did not want to overload myself and hence focused on doing few resources but doing them well rather than doing 100 resources superficially. I did UW and FA in a way that i would understand each and every word of the book. Also, whenever i would not understand i looked up google and wikipedia. I made sure i would check everywhere in case i did not understand a concept. I would even see my undergraduate textbooks, goljan, uptodate, anything and everything to make sure i understand. Also, when a phrase like “central umbilication in molluscum contagiosum” is given i would make sure exactly what it means and how the lesions look like by seeing google images. I did this to ensure that in case the topic showed up in my exam i would know it inside out…its images..its everything..not just a phrase like umbilication. Everyone can memorize…but in exam they will put the actual image and not a phrase describing it.

NBME Assessments: These are the holy grail questions of USMLE preparation. The questions are an under-utilized resource which has a potential of increasing people’s score by a significant amount. Let me explain to you all about what are NBMEs, How to use them, What to use them for and Why ? I will explain everything A to Z about NBME. When i started my preparation i looked at the experiences of past applicants and saw that everyone who had scored well had done all the NBME questions. These have been present in every high scorer’s preparation. But for some reason most average and below average scorers have under utilized this resource. Many people procrastinate and / or are scared of taking a assessment test. The thing is if you use these tests well then you can increase your score drastically. So there are 15 NBMEs, each with 200 questions. The NBME organization does not give out the correct answers and explanations of these tests. However, students have compiled the correct answers and explanations of these tests. Now, the way these tests should be used is to do one test every week starting 5 months from your exam. If you do this then you will get a ton of questions on your realm exam which will be on the same topics as the NBMEs. The reason being that NBMEs are made by the USMLE organization itself. They have to be used as both a assesment tool and a learning tool. The thing you need to understand is that the NBME scores of the recent NBMEs are extremely predictive of the real exam. In addtion to this, when you do the NBMEs, make sure you check which topics you got correct and which topics you got wrong. By doing this, you will be able to understand which topics you need to focus on more. Like in my earlier NBMEs i was consistently getting Behavioural Science and Gross Anatomy wrong. What i did was i picked up  the best books i was aware of for these 2 subjects and i did those books inside out and in the later NBMEs my questions of those 2 topics were all correct and i improved my performance by a significant amount because i analyzed my weaknesses, like i was getting developmental milestones wrong and i was also getting patient physician interaction type questions wrong. As i will explain below in the Behavioural Science section i improved my Behavioural Science by getting the best books for it and learning the subject well. Similarly i was also having difficulty with gross anatomy and embryology and i improved it by getting better books than the ones i was using already and by doing the subject in depth.

I had done all the offline and the online NBMEs. For the Offline NBMEs i have written the number of incorrect questions out of 200. What you have to do is take the correct questions out of 200 and multiply it by 1.39 in order to get the 3 digit score. This is a rough estimate of what you would have scored had you taken the test online. I gave them in order from 1 to 19 without changing any order or skipping any NBME in between.

NBME 1 – 30 incorrect – 236

NBME 2 – 34 incorrect – 230

NBME 3 – 30 incorrect – 236

NBME 4 – 28 incorrect – 239

NBME 5 – 32 incorrect – 233

NBME 6 – 31 incorrect – 234

NBME 7 – 24 incorrect – 245

NBME 11 – 26 incorrect –  242

NBME 12 – 21 incorrect – 249

NBME 13 – 24 incorrect – 245

NBME 15 -22  incorrect – 247

I gave these from the start of my preparation and i finished NBME 15 – 4 months before my test. I then prepared for 3 months and i gave the following NBMEs in the last month just prior to my exam. In these 3 months of preparation i did the things i was more weak in.i.e. Behavioural and Anatomy. This caused my score to jump from high 240s to low-mid 260s. With God’s grace i scored even higher 270 in my real test.

Advanced Preparation:

Now after doing the offline was time to do the topics which i was weak in PRIOR to doing the online NBMEs. And those topics were Behavioural Science & Gross Anatomy.

In Behavioural Science there are multiple parts and each one needs to be done in a specific manner. Following are the sections in Behavioural Science:

– Core Behavioural Science (stuff like conditioning)

– Psychiatry and Psychotherapeutics

– Patient – Physician Relations

– Biostatistics

The first 2 are pretty easy and i will concentrate on the last 2 as that was what i was getting wrong in my NBMEs. To improve this i did UWorld Biostatistics Subject Review, BRS Behavioural Science and Conrad Fischer’ 100 most likely questions of Ethics.

Apart from this i saw that in my NBME performance i was also weak in Anatomy and i was not just weak in Gross and Clinical Anatomy, i was also weak in Embryology. These sections i was at a point in time planning on ignoring and doing just UFAP for it. However, i am incredibly thankful to god that i did not ignore it and did it well. The reason is that it was heavily tested in my exam. I had concentrated on the questions in the following books more than the text. I would recommend you to do both, text + questions.. however, the questions are very helpful in actually memorizing the text and they are a must-do. I used:

BRS Gross Anatomy

High Yield Gross Anatomy

BRS Embryology

After doing my weak sections from these books for these 2 subjects, i went on to give online NBME and my score in th

Following i gave online:

NBME 16(24 days before exam): 261

NBME 17 (17 days before exam): 265

NBME 18 (13 days before exam): 269

NBME 19 (6 days before exam): 261

Final Preparation:

After these NBMEs i was sure that i am going to do well in the in the final 5 days before the exam.. I did wrong questions from UWorld, wrong questions from NBME and First Aid USMLE on last time. I made sure i knew each and every word in FA when i went in to give the test, I could literally visualize every nook and corner of the textbook.

Exam Day:

I slept well on the day before the exam. On the exam i was calm and confident and it helped me a lot. Being neurotic and anxious will not did what you had to.. you prepared for a long time.. Its all done now. Be confident and win the race.. Go in with your 100%

August 28, 2018

USMLE Step 1 Experience of IMG Dr. Farook – 271

USMLE STEp 1 (3)

USMLE STEp 1 (3)


USMLE Step 1 Experience by Dr. Farook

Materials studied and number of times studied:

Kaplan Lecture Notes – 2 times + Kaplan Videos  – 1 Time

First Aid USMLE Step 1 – 6 times

UWorld (1 time offline and 1 time online)

BRS Behavioural Science – only questions 1 time

BRS Anatomy – only questions 1 time

Conrad Fischer’s 100 questions of ethics – 1 time


USMLE is a long process and i recommend you understand your strengths and weaknesses in order to go for this test. My strength was studying for 8-10 hours a day consistently. Some people’s strength maybe to study 24-36 hours non-stop but that is not my strength. I believe that in order to synthesize memory one needs good sleep, good diet and good exercise in addition to studies. So i went to the gym regularly and ate healthily. I did not stay up late and made sure i study in proper rhythm. Rhythm is very important for me and i studied in the following pattern:

Wake up at 8

Go to library after a breakfast and begin reading at 9

Read for 4 hours till 1 PM

Take a light lunch at 1-2 PM. I brought the food along with me to the library and in this way i did not have to go back home to get the food. That maintained my tempo and i did not get distracted in time wasting transit from one place to another.

Then i would study till 7 PM from 2PM i.e. 5 more hours.

Then i would go for a run and then exercise. That was from 7PM to 9PM

9PM – 10PM i would have dinner

And finally i would study 1-2 hours in the night after food

So all in all i studied for 10 hours roughly per day..each and every day.


UW and FA i did word for word..each and every thing. I made sure i knew those books well. Uworld i solved as untimed timed and tutor mode for the first time and i got 82%. In the second time i got 96% and second time i did random and timed.

I annotated everything from UW and Kaplan into FA. I would also google for things not explained well in the books. After googleing i would enter some useful information into my FA. I had basically put FA into a binder and seperated the pages. I would be able to add new pages in between this way. Basically, because FA has so less free space… i had to add my own pages in it. So in this way i annotated stuff from everywhere into my book.

I also did all the NBMEs. I did each and every NBME – offline and online as it is known that the questions can come form any of them

Final days:

In the last months i did only my annotated FA. I just read that book as i had accumulated all the information in it.

In the last week i did somethings like – Heart sounds, ECG, FRED practice test. I also did the questions i got incorrect on the NBME and on the UWorld.

Exam day:

I got cold coffee, red bull and chips in my bag to the Prometric center. No heavy food. I took breaks between all blocks except first 2 and i did them back to back. Rest blocks i took a break between them. Also after 4th block i had the chips. In the rest of the block i alternate between consuming 1 red bull or 1 cold coffee..

August 28, 2018

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 256 – American Medical Student

Hey guys recently took my step 1 and thought I would share my experience while it is still fresh in my head.


CBSE January 2017:188

CBSE April 2017: 243

NBME 17:238(curve is ridiculous)

NBME 18: 256

NBME 19:250(curve yet again ridiculous but I got better at step I guess)


Ill try my best not to break any NBME laws but if I do please let me know so the NBME lords don’t come to my doorstep and seize everything I own.

I feel like while I was taking the exam I was having so many epiphanies that I feel like you can only have if you’ve taken the exam but by then its too late. No amount of SDN, reddit reading can help you fully capture the exam experience but I will try to give you some lessons I learned while taking the exam.


  1. Having good exam day mentality is so important. I never took strictly test setting practices, full lengths, paused my tests alot, looked up answers before finishing a block, and was very lazy with this overall. Well during the exam I was running low on time on almost every block and the uncertainty of not knowing the answers was killing me. You have to be prepared for the exam day itself as a part of your studying. I.E getting good sleep, food, not getting worn out, not getting thrown of by distractions(for example someone taking an exam other than STEP which requires a lot of typing and ANNOYING LOUD KEYBOARD BANGING THAT THREW ME OFF FOR THE FIRST TWO BLOCKS). ughhh Time plays a big factor in making you feel unsure. You dont always have time to check all your answers other then maybe marked questions and I think thats why people feel awful.

As important as this test is dont try to change how you answer questions. I remember in the beginning I would make sure to read every little detail in the question and make sure I wasnt missing a single thing and was very slow at answering. I ended up going back to my old approach of answering questions midway through and had a better experience from there on it.


  1. The material is all in in UFAPS. I was so afraid of SDN people talking about questions outside of these resources, questions that are completely left field. I barely had any of these types of questions. I did notice alot of questions that could LOOK left field but ultimately they were testing a basic first aid concept so know these cold and do UWORLD. People also say that the exam is more clinical rather than buzzword heavy. Maybe theres not as many buzzwords but I still could recognize the description of buzzwords. I feel like having the mentality that STEP 1, as convuluted as it may be, is testing a basic concept helped me answer questions and navigate through the crap.


  1. The test is very similar to UWORLD but even UWORLD doesn’t capture the higher ordered nature and trickiness of step. The trickyness of step isn’t necessarily that they are deliberately trying to make you choose the wrong answer like MCAT or sometimes UWORLD. Its more that they just make you uncomfortable picking answers that you know are probably right but there are other answers that could be right too. I felt like I was making so many educated guesses but at the same time I felt like I was still choosing the best answer. You need to get used to this feeling by doing a lot of practice test and UWORLD.


  1. Process of elimination is important. There were a lot of questions that sometimes felt like there could be 3 or even 4 answers that are correct but then I would go back to the passage and be like “hmm that cant be right, this doesnt make sense within this context” Until I get to the answer.

This plays into the higher orderedness of the questions. One question can have information about a disease and ask you a detail on that disease, and then they include bits of information on other diseases that you have to eliminate because they dont make sense within the context. Mix that in with physio/pharm/ anatomy tie ins and youve got one gigantic monster question that requires you to know the full presentation of 4-5 different diseases and some knowledge on other Non organ system topics to get one question right. Oh and you have about a minute and a half to move through your brain access all the info you need, make the best decision and move on without any assurance of whether you got the question right or not. So when you are learning first aid keep this mentality of mind. Take disease, know their full presentation ask yourself how changing certain factors can make you choose another similar disease. There were so many questions where I felt like I knew 90% of the information in the questions and answers but could not make that last link to the answer which really frustrated me.


  1. Topics are skewed, thankfully they favored my strengths but they may not so know everything well, show no weakness!!

There were also a good chunk of straight forward questions so don’t neglect memorization from first aid, sketchy, pathoma. There are people who are UWORLD fanatics and go over the top about how great it is and how it is all you really need. Thats somewhat true but you still need to memorize the dumb details which I found to be lacking in UWORLD.


  1. Anatomy is pretty low yield. wasted so much time freaking out about CTs,MRIs, gross path, and overstudied for it. Most high yield is probably Neuroanatomy, GI, and I guess cardiopulm but that anatomy is simple so need to worry.


  1. The main difference between UWORLD and Step 1 is that step 1 questions don’t try to trick you as much as UWORLD. UWORLD goes overboard with this. I also feel like STEP 1, questions tend to be more muddy and exclude a lot of information(like NBMEs) that could give you more confidence with your answers. STEP 1 also had questions even higher ordered than UWORLD.

Essentially, a good chunk of STEP 1 questions felt like NBME and UWORLD questions did a FUSION Ha and then took it to the next level and went super saiyan three.


  1. Do your NBMES. Noticed some similar appearing questions. One question that I obsessed over for the NBMEs because I could not find an explanation for it actually came up on my test.


Overall, I would say what makes the step 1 hard is the actual test experience itself, knowing information so well that you can apply it to difficult, uncomfortable questions, memorizing the dumb details for the gimme questions, and overall maintaining composure, being confident and efficient.

Final Score: 256


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

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 257 IMG – Dr. Mohamed Mustafa – Egypt


USMLE STEP 1 – 253 Experience – Indian IMG (Malak Modi)

December 27, 2017

US MS2 – USMLE Step 1 Experience – 257

NBME 13 3/5/17 248

NBME 15 3/14/17 246

NBME 19 3/31/17 257

NBME 16 4/14/17 265

NBME17 4/18/17 269

NBME18 4/21/17 255


Real thing (April 2017)= 257


uworld twice, with first aid. its the recipe that never fails. imo always get the newest edition – there was a lot of new info in 2017 vs. 2016. also sketchy micro and pharm is gold. I have no idea how i would have learned the neuro/psych/antiarrhythmic w/o sketchy pharm. FA is just a vomit of info, and no uworld question captures all of the concepts in a single place like the pharm videos do. Another thing I found useful – if you are using the paper copy of FA you are doing in wrong (at least imo). it’s a massive waste of time looking up buzzwords in the index. get an online version of FA, open up like 5-9 version, and search function terms. and pay attention to every single time the buzzwords you are searching are noted in the text (e.g. if you search retinitis, look at every single place where it is mentioned. it helps to build contrast b/w subjects). it the beginning it is painful and there is so much you don’t know. but it gets faster, eventually. like months later (for me!). i never actually read FA front to back but I definitely had seen every page multiple times using this method. in terms of pathoma, it’s definitely high yield. a few questions were indeed “high yield” as he mentions in his videos. but these are typically random facts. they are good to know, and good to be familiar with for sure during your test, but i feel this is a resource best maximized in the last weeks of study, where you can tie together concepts you already know with the small high yield details he provides.


I took my classes seriously the first year of school. in the end, the info i probably learned wasn’t super high yield but i probably became more familiar with the language of medicine. second year, i tried to do at least 40Q from each system with my school’s systems based modules. i think this was really important. you don’t have to do every question to get a feel for how the subject as a whole is tested in uworld/nbme format. around january, i started doing 40Q random and timed. i finally finished uworld first pass at the beginning of april, and did the second pass within the month of april.

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

269 – USMLE Step 1 Experience

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 257 IMG – Dr. Mohamed Mustafa – Egypt


December 27, 2017

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 247 – US Medical Student 2

Just took it


Will share score when it comes out. I didn’t have a survey at the end. I just had a screen saying I was done but that doesn’t guarantee I finished all sections (I answered every question, so I guess that’s just a standardized message). Goal score is 250. I can live with anything 230+.


Practice Scores

U World Average 71% timed random while I was doing organ systems. One week after finishing organ systems, I did last 16 blocks and averaged 75%.


(All taken before studying)

CBSA 190

NBME 13 180

UWSA 180


(2 weeks into hardcore studying)

UWSA 236


(Taken while going through organ systems)

NBME 15 236

NBME 16 232

NBME 17 222

NBME 18 236


(After reviewing all organ systems)

NBME 19 244

Free 117 85%


What I did

Study time: 10 weeks about 8-10 hours a day (took some time out of school’s normal curriculum to begin early and lowered my grades a bit for the last module)

U World 1.5X (I did my incorrects and marks after my first run through on tutor mood)

First Aid 2X

Pathoma 2X

Goljan 1X

DIT (About 70% and coupled it with first aid, since I lack the discipline to sit there and read)

Kaplan 70% completion (mostly done through med school)

USMLE RX 70% completion (along with First Aid and DIT to hammer first aid)


Test Experience

Some blocks were easy and felt like NBME 18 and 19. Some blocks were about the difficulty level of U World. It felt like recall questions with weird organisms or drugs as the correct answer were all purposely designed so that someone who knew all the high yield information could effectively eliminate all of the other choices. The most difficult questions had to do with pathogenesis. It was a lot of “can you figure out the most reasonable explanation/mechanism for this common medical phenomena.” The physiology was easier than both Kaplan and U World. The pathophysiology was on the same level. I’m generally a good standardized test taker and fast reader, so, when practicing, timing was never an issue. On the actual exam, the easy blocks took me about 40-50 minutes and left me a good amount of time for double checking. However, I needed almost all the time just to get through the tougher blocks. The people at my test center were super slow at signing people in after breaks. I lost a bit of time on my last block. I still managed to finished, but it wasn’t a good feeling to see those red digits wind down as I frantically clicked the bubble for my last answer.


I definitely made some really dumb mistakes here and there, especially in the later blocks. Test fatigue is very real. I practiced taking 8 blocks a day on more than a few occasions. However, the pressure and multistep questions on the real deal really do wear you down. By the last three blocks, I started to be less thorough with my reading of questions. But I’m not really going to beat myself up over this because I think test fatigue affects almost everyone and almost everyone makes a few dumb errors they wouldn’t normally make due to it.


How I would study differently?

Specifically for STEP 1, I wouldn’t study differently at all. I can distinctly remember questions on my exam that I only knew because of a combination of one or two of the resources listed above.


How I would study differently in med school to be in a better position at the beginning of my dedicated study period?

READ more. The exam tests if you know the mechanisms behind disease. All of the rote facts can be readily memorized in a few weeks. It’s hard to gain a good background in pathology in that time period. Reading Robbins during your actual coursework is golden. If you had lecture based exams that asked nit picky details off of slides like at my school, time spent reading might take away a bit from grades on exams. However, I think sacrificing your grades a bit to read the right resources more is worth it for two reasons: #1 you gain a broader background and framework to actually understand medicine as a system rather than an assortment of disjointed facts #2 It helps a lot come boards study time, when you start with a strong base of understanding the “why” and the “how” rather than just the “what” of processes.

The way scoring on USMLE STEP 1 most likely works is as follows:


All questions you get were given as experimentals several times to different pools of test takers. The statistics regarding %who got it right vs. %who got it wrong for those questions are used to compute a difficulty rating for each of the questions. On your exam you get say 280 questions. Say 40 are experimental. Therefore 240 count towards your score. Each of those questions has its own individual difficulty rating, computed by the test makers via the aforementioned technique. The difficulty ratings of all of your questions is averaged. That rating is used to generate a “curve” or standardization for your test. This is then used to finally compute your score.


Now your questions actually come from a pool of 20,000 questions. NBME essentially makes sure you get a nearly random set of 280 questions. However, to ensure that you get a certain number in every topic, all of the topics have a minimum number of questions that NEED be asked for them. For example, “pathology” probably has the highest minimum and something like biochem would have a lower minimum. Hope this makes sense


Also questions, where say under 15% got it right and there were only 5 choices, are probably thrown out. This is because it is hard to tell if people got it right because of luck or knowing the answer.

As promised, here is my score: 247. Long way up from a baseline of 180. Even professors lacked confidence in me, given my baseline and merely average preclinical grades. Work hard and don’t listen to the haters.

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


269 – USMLE Step 1 Experience

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 257 IMG – Dr. Mohamed Mustafa – Egypt


December 27, 2017

USMLE Step 1 Experience – AMS2


I haven’t been on SDN since starting med school, but I thought I’d chime in with my Step experience in case it helps someone lurking I was very nervous about my practice test scores and felt like I knew the material better than my scores were reflecting, but luckily the real deal worked out well for me.


Baseline, 4.5 weeks before test, NBME 16: 215

2.5 weeks before test, NBME 17: 217 (<– really panicked right about here, couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t gone up)

2 weeks before test, UWSA1: 241

1.5 weeks before test, NBME 18: 228

1 week before test, NBME 19: 223

6 days before test, UWSA2: 241

Overall UWorld, first pass, started Day 1 of dedicated, random untimed: 70% (though steadily climbing throughout dedicated)

Real score: 241


Very happy with how things turned out, despite feeling very uncertain that I was going to even break 230s — by the time I got my score, I was just hoping for 225+. I’m 97% sure I’m pursuing peds, which isn’t particularly competitive, so I feel really relieved and confident headed into MS3.


Good luck to those still waiting to take Step and to get your scores back! Hopefully this helps someone out there

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

275 – USMLE Step 1 Experience IMG


269 – USMLE Step 1 Experience


December 27, 2017

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 259 – American Medical Student


Score came back faster than expected, in less than 3 weeks.

Test day: Much harder than both NBMEs I took and both UWSAs. Walked out feeling I did significantly worse than I expected to do. Obviously, that did not line up with reality — my guess is that many “stumper” questions were experimental or just washed out with the curve. The curve must have been far, far more generous than that of the NBMEs.


Timing… there was plenty of time to finish each section. I generally finished with 10+ minutes to spare, and ended the day with 90 minutes of break time remaining (I didn’t use much either because after eating, I just wanted to get back to the exam and get it over with…).


Question stems were generally fairly brief, more akin to NBME than UWorld. Some questions were off the wall and I had never heard of the topic before; that occurred particularly with respect to musculoskeletal and dermatology material. Others were prosaic topics asked about in a strange way that confused me utterly. Pictures were generally good quality. Lots of radiology (more than I expected, by far). Quite a bit of genetics. Multiple ethics questions that I could narrow down to 2 choices but could not differentiate after that. Couple of heart sound questions with the interactive interface; sound quality was great and those questions were not difficult.


Lesson learned is that Step 1 will crush your soul and make you feel you did horrible even if you did well.


Step 1: 259

Baseline/pre-dedicated study NBME (17), ~1.5 months out: 244 (580)

Second NBME (19), ~3 weeks out: 252 (620)

UWSA 1, 1 week out: 277 (730)

UWSA 2, day before exam: 262 (forgot to note assessment score)

UWorld cumulative %: 84.2% (96th percentile)


Amazingly the average of the 4 practice tests is 258.75. How crazy is that.


Resources used:

First Aid: Nothing to say here, everyone knows First Aid. Lots of stuff in the book that is actually quite low-yield. You can’t learn everything, the volume is too great. Make sure you know the stuff that comes up more than once. Anything that doesn’t, maybe don’t go crazy trying to memorize (e.g. pharmacology section’s endless pages of random side effects).

Pathoma: Awesome. Pay a lot of attention to the first few (fundamentals) chapters. These are free points if you have the facts down pat. I missed a point on an easy question straight out of the inflammation chapter and kicked myself for it later. This book is slim and easy to review once you’ve read through it once. Rinse and repeat.

UWorld: Nothing to say here. Interface is a carbon copy of the actual step 1 interface. Questions are great. Do timed and random, and suppress your rage at the endless number of arcane questions in the bank. You can’t know everything, but you can learn all the random stuff you do happen to come across…

USMLERx Qbank: I highly recommend doing USMLERx during M2 because it basically serves as a pass through First Aid in a more digestible format. I did ~90% of the question bank. Used during organ system courses midway through M2. Medium and hard questions only, timed. Did easy questions when I’d cleared a subject, just to complete them and see 0 questions remaining on the tally.

Rapid Review Pathology: Read some chapters. Not really necessary but if you have time sure why not. Goljan writes well and the chapters are fast reads.

SketchyMicro: Watched virus, parasite, and fungi videos only. SketchyMicro is amazing and I suggest using it early and often. I should have used it for the bacteria but by the time I started using it in general, I had already studied the bacteria extensively anyway.

MicroCards: Pretty good, more useful in microbiology course than for Step review in my experience.

PharmCards: Not very useful in my opinion… too dense and too many cards.


I did only one pass of UWorld because I ran out of time and motivation to go back through or even review my missed questions. However, I did review a Word doc I made with “pearls” from each question I missed throughout my dedicated study period. Were I to re-do this process (not in a million years!), I would take the time to do a second pass of UWorld and also do more NBMEs, and maybe re-review the first few chapters of Pathoma (very high yield!).

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

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 265 – Must Read

275 – USMLE Step 1 Experience IMG



December 27, 2017

US MS2 – USMLE Step 1 Experience – 250

Just have got the result.

UWorld first pass 79.5%

NBME 19 236 ( 6 days before exam)

FRED 120 89.% ( 3 days before)

Real exam. 250

Thank you very much. To be honest, I was expecting something between 240 and 250, but after disappointing result of NBME 19 would be glad to see anything higher than 235. My exam overall was roughly that I was expecting, unlike my step 2ck. I had overall 272 questions, the last block was only 32. The 3-rd one and the last one were extremely hard, I probably marked 40 % of questions on them. I clearly remember the last question of the last block. The clinical question written by some misanthropic guy . Was given a clinical scenario with 5 options of diagnosis, none of them were even close to be true. In the first half an hour after the exam I found out around a dozen mistakes I committed. Strongly recommend against doing that to anyone, just suppress your temptation.

Again, diagnostic forms failed to predict my result. My step 2 ck result was over predicted by UWSA by 16 points, here is under prediction by 14. Still I am glad I took this form. In the real exam I had a question almost identical to the one that I did wrong in NBME.

My preparation materials were FA, a must, Pathoma( to say it is an excellent resource means to say nothing). Kaplan video lectures and lecture notes. For the old IMG which I am it was also extremely helpful, especially biochemistry, genetics, pharm. I didn’t like their pathology lectures though. I did Rx once ( didn’t tell me much), Kaplan qbank once ( much of lower yield stuff, but the physiology and pathophysiology parts had some important concepts). UWorld did in the last two months twice. No need to mention the importance of that qbank. But one has to use it as a learning tool, not as a monitor of progress or something in that style.

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


USMLE Step 1 Experience – 265 – Must Read

275 – USMLE Step 1 Experience IMG

December 27, 2017

USMLE Step 1 – 242 Experience – US Medical Student

Just opened my score report after putting it off all day during my clerkship due to being filled with dread – hopefully my experience serves as some encouragement for those who didn’t score too hot on practice tests!


Baseline CBSE (12/2016): 60, which correlates to 175

NBME 15 (3 weeks out): 221 with 35 incorrects

NBME 19 (10 days out): 223 with 30 incorrects

UWorld (1st pass, timed, random): 71%

I finished all but 4 blocks of UWorld; I only did one pass and did not review incorrects. I started with scores in the 40s and by the last couple of weeks was scoring around an average of 78% with a range of 68% – 90%.


Actual Score (4/6/2017): 242


I did USMLERx casually for about six months before dedicated and finished about 50% of the question bank; I also did one pass of FA and Pathoma before dedicated. Dedicated was 5 weeks long for me, during which I did the majority of UWorld, went through two additional passes of both FA and Pathoma, and listened to all of the Goljan lectures once. I didn’t take any other NBMEs or any UWorld Assessments because after NBME 15 and especially after NBME 19, I realized that practice tests were only severely stressing me out since I wasn’t meeting my expectations. At that point during dedicated, I decided that having a positive mindset was more important than what I could gain by doing additional tests – so I just stuck with UWorld and did as much as I could until the day before my exam.


I thought my actual test felt almost exactly like doing 7 blocks of UWorld, and I was weirdly very relaxed during it (like 100x more relaxed than when I was doing NBMEs) because I was just ready for it to be over and to experience fun again. My test was fair, with a healthy dose of both gimmies and WTF questions (don’t let these stress you out; just guess and move on). In my opinion, I think doing UWorld in timed, random blocks was the most helpful because one of the hardest aspects of this exam (at least for me) is the constant recall of random information, especially information that I reviewed weeks ago. Pathoma is a must – I can remember at least several questions off the top of my head that were ONLY in Pathoma, so I was really glad I did that 3x. FA was used mostly as a checklist rather than for rote memorization, and Goljan was very fun to listen to and really good for morale. I also used Sketchy Micro during the school year and Sketchy Pharm during dedicated as needed.


Hope this helps someone, and I’m happy to answer any questions!

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

How to Save Time on USMLE Test Day ?


USMLE Step 1 Experience – 265 – Must Read

December 27, 2017

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 253 – International Medical Student

IMG here. I just got my results this past Wednesday. Like most of you I have been lurking on the sidelines and I just felt I should add my experience too to encourage others that you are not alone.


UWORLD: 75% first pass (94% on second pass of which I only did 47% of the qbank)

NBME 16: 236 (6 weeks out)

NBME 17: 240 (4 weeks out)

NBME 18: 246 (9 days out)

Free 120: 87.5 % (2 days out)


real deal: 253


Materials used:


Pathoma videos x2: Great resource indeed. I never read the book.


Kaplan Behavioral science videos (my weakest subjects area which I managed to change to stars on the real deal). Good resources, it helped me build the foundation I needed in order to understand the difficult concept that were in FA and uwolrd. I definitely recommend the videos. I remember after my nbme 16 I performed very badly on biostats and behavioral science. My performance had a star on the low side!


First Aid for Basic Sciences and First Aid for Organ Systems. These books were great for me because the helped me get a comprehensive review of the materials before I dived into uworld. The only downside is that they are a bit too old (released in 2012). First Aid team should release new edition!


Uworld: The most important resource in my opinion. It took me four months to do the first pass! Yes I am a slow reader sometimes I would do 25 questions only per day, doing just uworld from morning to evening. But I am glad I took all that time because it helped me absorb most of the high yield stuff and my nbme 16 actually shocked me because all I was aiming for was to get above 230. Hence I ended up taking other nbmes just to be sure that it was not a fluke.


First Aid 2017 together with usmlerx videos over the last 6 weeks. This was actually the first time I was opening FA in my entire life! It helped fill in the gaps in knowledge I had especially in those areas that arent covered well in uworld. So I took nbme 16 as the baseline before starting my dedicated studies. For my dedicated studying, over the last 6 weeks I focused on FA, usmlerx videos and uworld about one block per day. Basically I would spend the whole day doing usmlerx videos and FA, then do a block in random timed mode towards the end of the day. Some days I would even do less than a block per day. I did not believe in rushing, just slowly but sure was my approach.


The exam experience:


Well the first two blocks were hard. I marked about 15 questions on those blocks. The rest of the blocks had 5-6 difficult questions per block. My major take home from the experience and what actually helped me get a higher score was that I finished most of the blocks with a few seconds to spare. This helped because the only time I managed to finish with more than three minutes to spare I went back to some of my marked questions and changed correct answers to wrong ones! My advice to you dont second guess yourself UNLESS it clear you had missed something in the vignette then dont change you answer! Trust your instincts! Getting out of the exam I didnt know how I had performed and I basically repressed all exam content after realizing the five silly mistakes I had made. That helped me study a bit for step 2 CK without worries whilist I was waiting for my scores. Most of the questions I wasnt sure about I used process of elimination. It works!




The most important thing is to know yourself and do whats best for you. Do whatever it is that will make you comfortable and absorb the most materials. First get your concepts straight then dive into UFAP. those three resources are more than enough to get a 250 plus score. The only problem is that people dive into UFAP with a shallow base. Its kinda difficult to get the most out of these resources if the fundamentals are not in place. Yeah that was long I hope it helps someone ace the exam.


God Bless.

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

How to Save Time on USMLE Test Day ?


USMLE Step 1 Experience – 265 – Must Read

December 27, 2017