Malaysian IMG – USMLE Step 1 Experience 251

Hey guys, as a brief introduction, I am a medical student in Malaysia (at south east Asia), and I did my step 1 on the 11th February, and got my score a few days ago. 

I prepped for the USMLE during my 2nd year which is March last year, and started getting serious is the final 3 months.

I used basically used Kaplan books for all subjects except Patho which is used Goljan’s Rapid Review. As for anatomy, I also used High Yield Neuroanatomy. I covered the books till 3 months before the exam, where I started question banks.

Added : While I am covering the Kaplan books, I would watch the Kaplan videos to pace myself. I feel that studying with the videos along with the books is not as boring as studying only on the books alone. I have to travel up and down my university everyday, and I spend almost an hour in the car everyday, that is when I will listen to the Goljan Audio. I would say I had went through 3 times of Goljan Audio by the time I sit for my Step 1. But somehow I feel the Audio is quite old, and the questions are changing. Then again, it is from Goljan that I learn that the emphasis of the exam is for us to make as much linkage between everything as possible.

During the last 6 months, I started annotating my First Aid heavily. In the end, while I am doing the question banks, I used mainly First Aid while occasionally referring back to Goljan and Kaplan.

I completed 2 question banks, USMLE Rx and UWorld. In mid November, I finished half of USMLE Rx. During December, I did both USMLE Rx and UW side by side. I completed USMLE Rx at the beginning of January with the average of 70%. During January till 4 days before my exam, I was doing UWorld. I finished UWorld 1 week before my exam, with an average of 69%.

On the final 2 weeks, I was just doing mainly NBMEs and UWSA. Added together, they provide quite a huge sum of questions.

In between study bursts, I would surf usmle forums just to have a feel that I am not in this alone.  Throughout my study periods, I would say a short prayer before I study that I may be able to concentrate, and I would say a short prayer before I sleep that I may be able to retain what I studied. I received loads of support from my girlfriend and family. I think the key to going through the hard times of preparing for the Step 1 is to know that we are all just weak human beings, and we need support and help from our god and also the people who love and care for us. I know I could never could have gotten through that period alone.

I did NBME 1-3 and NBME 7 offline.
I did NBME 4,5,6 online.

Here is the list of my NBME/UWSA scores in chronological order. My exam date is on the 11th February.

UWSA 1 (21st Jan) : 247
NBME 6 (29th Jan) : 240
NBME 5 (3rd Feb) : 229
On the 5th of Feb, I did NBME 4 (249) and UWSA 2 (256) back to back.

The last few days before the exam was just revising, especially the weak areas I have which I analyzed from NBME, UW, and UWSA.

There are many things which I planned to do 1 year ago when I planned my preparation, which I ended up did not have the time to do. Throughout my final month, I had been quite easily distracted, and had not put up the hard effort which I initially planned to put. Throughout the last few weeks, I would only study average of 5-6 hours a day. I know during the last few days of my prep that I do not deserve any high score despite my relatively good NBME and UWSA scores, which I would attribute mainly to guessing.

The day before my exam, I took a big break, watched movie in the cinema, and watched TV, and just spent time with my girlfriend. I went to bed at 9.30pm, but could not sleep till about 1-2am. Probably because for the past weeks I had been sleeping at 1-3am everyday. I should have slept at the same time I would plan to sleep every night during the last week.

On the exam day, my questions were quite okay for me.  I would say a short prayer before and after and even during every block. I am a Christian, but have not been really religious till I realize that I could never have survived this exam till I learn that only through God’s help can I ever pass this exam, or even succeed in anything in life. I know that I do not know well of many many topics, and thankfully, not much of the things I do not know came out in my blocks, and I could only thank God for that. You could say it was luck or coincidence, but for me, I believe that God is helping me pass this exam, even though I do not deserve it any single bit.

I took plenty of short breaks throughout the exam and called my girlfriend just to talk to her.

Finally, I ended the exam and was smiling all the way out of the prometric center, and I felt like a heavy burden has been lifted from me.

3 days ago, I got my results. It was a 251/99 and I can only thank God for that. I had been really blessed to receive a bunch of people to help and guide and support me along my whole path, especially my girlfriend, my family and my close friends, and also the people of USMLE Forums, especially the forum staffs, who have answered patiently all the silly questions I posted. 

Thank you guys!!

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


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