USMLE Step – 1 Experience :

268 IMG 2017 Experience

Exam date – 31.08.17

Score – 268

Year of graduation – 2012.

Prep time- 1 year (while working). Last 6 weeks dedicated.

Resources used–

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

  1. I was improving with consistent study
  2. I made careless mistakes because I did not cross check my marked questions and was always in a hurry to finish


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.

Exam day:

  1. I used the black screen mode (as I had been doing throughout with UW as I get a headache due to staring at a computer screen)- this helped me immensely. I had no eye strain and no headache even after 7 blocks.
  2. Used quick high energy food which would keep me full. Took frequent and short snack and bathroom breaks post each block. Got lunch but was unable to eat it. So made do with chocolates, juices. Coffee -took at lunch time so I could stay fresh till the end and finish strong.
  3. Finished each block with 15 to 20 mins to spare. Then went through all questions again carefully after finishing. Changed answers to a few silly mistakes.

What you can learn from my experience:

  1. Old graduates and ppl working full day can do it (will take longer though)! Perseverance and regularity are key. Studying even 1 hour in the morning before going to work and doing questions regularly keeps your head in the game.
  2. Do all Kaplan videos (barring path) once (I unfortunately was unable to do so
  3. Do Fundamentals of Pathology – Hussein Sattar (Pathoma) with videos for Path (I didn’t do the book so can’t comment)
  4. Use UWorld smartly in the last 1 or 2 months- use it to improve test taking strategy. Read last two lines of the vignette first and then think of an answer\diagnosis in your head. Then go the answer choices and mark one. Just for completion sake read the rest of vignette cursorily to see if there’s any extra info which change your answer. Start practicing this in UWorld for at least one month prior to exam. This lessens the time taken to finish a Block thus preventing brain fatigue and gives you ample relaxed time to check your marked questions.
  5. Just cramming FA and UW will probably get you a good enough score. But if you want an above average score (240+) you need to improve your basics.
  6. I wish I had done all online NBMEs and checked the wrong answers. So please do as many NBMEs as possible even if it’s offline. Use them as an assessment plus learning tool.

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..

Check out the best resources for USMLE Step 1 by clicking here.

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:

US MS2 – USMLE Step 1 Experience – 257

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 256 – American Medical Student

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 250 – American Student

September 21, 2017
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