IMG (U.S citizen) – USMLE Step 1 Experience

I am an IMG (U.S citizen)…I am one of the happiest individuals right now. I worked my butt of for this exam and with GOD, and GOD only I was able to clear this thing first time. I am an average student with good work ethic. I was average in my med school classes but had a drive to succeed. I know it is not the best score, but you know when you have sweated and stressed and done everything possible about an exam, you knew what it took to get it …you will be proud of it regardless. Trust me when I started I had dreams of 240 plus, but as my prep continued, I realized what a beast of an exam Step 1 was, and it became a 230 goal, to a 220 goal to a “I just wanna pass” lol. 


USWA 1: 206 ( 5 months out)
USWA 2: 219 ( 3 weeks out)
NBME 6: 160( 6 months out)
NBME 7: 165( 5 months out) 
NBME 11: 184( 2 months out)
NBME 13: 184( 4 weeks out)
USMLE RX sim 1: 190( 2 months out)
USMLE RX sim 2: 213 ( 6 weeks out)
USMLE RX sim 3: 217 ( 5 weeks out)
USMLE RX sim 4: 229 (2 weeks out)
Free 150q : 72 % (220) (3 days out)


Kaplan Step 1 Live prep
Kaplan books & Videos
USMLE step 1 secrets (50%)
FA 2012 (3x)
PATHOMA video (2x)
DIT 2013 
Deja Review USMLE step 1
USMLE Success Academy: Dr. Paul
USMLE RX Qmax (1.5x)


When I started, I read a lot of posts and had my master plan to take the exam in 6 months, but the exam ended up taking me 11 months to complete. I started with Kaplan live prep class, and at the time I thought the program was great, but after taking my NBMEs upon completion and failed miserably, I knew I had a lot of work to do. Kaplan is great but not for everyone, it is fast paced and massive amount of information with not enough time to sink in. I highly recommend the Kaplan videos though; it was 90 percent similar to the live prep program. 

So after completion of that I read and watched the entire Kaplan book/videos, then I moved on to FA & DIT for a month plus, then moved on to PATHOMA afterwards. The transition was great because I was now able to focus more on higher yield info, but just slight improvement in scores. I then started with UWORLD, upon completion I took the assessment, and then again took NBME, no improvement. I was heartbroken and disappointed. After doing all the things I was supposed to do still no improvement. I contacted Dr. Paul USMLE Success Academy, and did the 4 weeks program, upon completion my score increased tremendously but I was still not passing. So I then started USMLE RX[ best decision I ever made]. USMLE RX allowed me to really understand firstaid, the questions seem straightforward but I was able to start mastering ways of picking out an answer in a vignette, and so I continued RX and FA and UWORLD at the end of my prep. 


I haven’t prayed so much about any exam in my life. MCAT experience is nothing compared to step 1. Night before exam I knew I needed to get a lot of sleep, but I had so much adrenaline and thoughts rushing through me that I couldn’t sleep till after 2 am. I went to bed at 10 and kept twisting and turning with my heart racing for no reason. On exam day, I took a lot of granola bars, 4 red bulls, water and a bowl of oranges for breaks. Don’t carry a lot of stuff with you, the lockers aren’t that big (size of a shoe box, but taller). Overall my exam was a mix of everything, I can’t really say I had lots of neuro or micro etc. But I know that FA did help me a lot, also some neuro images. But what I noticed is that the questions were LONGGGG. Believe me when I tell you, I had no time to go back to review my checked answers for ALL 7 blocks. Vignette is longer than uworld and rx and nbmes. So practice time management very well. I was ending blocks with seconds left in my time. Just ridiculous. So read fast, very fast, and be able to pick out key points from the exam. I took almost all my breaks, especially after a hard block. Also they give you a laminated marker board before start, make sure you save space and you can write your formulas and note before you start, so that was helpful. I used it to jot down all the biostats equation, some pharm equations and renal equations. I don’t recall seeing any questions from NBMEs, but I saw an exact question from the free 150q I was shocked. But I probably got it wrong because it was a hard question. The 8 hours was long, tiring and I was ready for it to be over with. But I tell you, the relief of being done was priceless. I felt I could breathe again. 

I received my score January 15, 2014, Got an email that my score was available through oasis, I tell you when I opened that pdf and saw pass, I was in tears, just thanking God. I know I couldn’t have done it on my own. 


I am here for you, I have been in your shoes and I know what you feel. It is easy to get discouraged when you come here and see 240 plus scores and think you are not smart enough when you can barely pass your NBMES. And you see people with 230 depressed about their scores. But you have to keep your head up and not always let what you see in these forums depress you. When I posted my score on the nbme score correlation page on this site, I was a little embarrassed because my stats was quite unique from others. I kept seeing 240 plus scores and here I was about to post my 205. Also know that the NBMEs are a good prediction of your scores but it is not everything. I got tired of NBMEs messing me up and depressing me. So I stopped after my 184 and couldn’t handle prolonging my exam anymore. Be honest with yourself. Know your test taking abilities, know your knowledge and use it in your favor. Don’t be ignorant and think because you passed on your med school classes Step 1 will be a breeze. It is not. REPETITION, REPETITION REPETITTION is key. FA and uworld helped me a lot. But USMLE rx helped me tremendously. FA is more concept driven, but you can’t start understanding concepts if your knowledge level is lacking, that is where USMLE rx comes in. It helps you cram FA. 

IF I CAN PASS THIS EXAM, you can too. Do away with all distractions (friends, facebook, stress etc)…dedicate months and weeks to preparing, at least 10 hours daily….with reading and qbanks. Memorizing your way through this exam would not work. Stay diligent, do it over and over. I read FA 3x, wish I could have done it 10 times. On my 3rd time I began understanding it even more, and was able to recall things better. And the most important, put your faith in God. You hear of stories of people passing their NBMEs and still failing and I didn’t even pass my last NBME and passed this exam. So do away with fear. Fear will deter you from doing well on this exam. Ask God to grant you wisdom and knowledge to tackle this exam. Pray and have faith that you can pass/ get your target score. I struggled through different sources before I could pass this exam. But I am glad I passed it first time. It is not the greatest score. But I will take it and run with it, because now I have learned do’s and don’ts for my step 2 ck/cs. So pick yourself up. Don’t take “NO” for an answer, study study study, and you will do well. 

Please feel free to ask me any questions or INBOX me. I hope my story can help those struggling with this exam. God Bless. [Feels good to officially be moving on to Step 2 CK and CS Forums]

~When FEAR knocks, let FAITH answer the door.~

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

Dr. Aamir Laghari – USMLE Step 1 – 255 Experience

Journey to 250+ USMLE Step 1 – Dr. Donmez

Dr. Nikki – 2017 Experience – USMLE Step 1 – 244

December 26, 2017
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