Gowri Korpal – USMLE Step 1 Experience – 270

USMLE Experiences

USMLE Experiences

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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 NBMEs..it 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 exam..so 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 help..you 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
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