US MS2 scores 253 on USMLE Step 1 – Experience of 253


Hi everybody! I’m a UNM student who loved looking at this thread before taking Step 1, and wanted to share my experiences:


CBSE- 222- (6 weeks out, given by the school)

UWSA 1- 254 (three weeks before test)

UWSA 2- 245 (two weeks out)

NBME 16- 228 (Three weeks out)

NBME15- 236 (2 weeks out)


UWorld- Only random, timed. Started in the mid sixties average, moved up to averaging about 76% on the 15 or so blocks before the test- cumulative was 70%. Finished 85% of it, did a few blocks of incorrect towards the end, weak-subject specific (Neuro and anatomy)


Kaplan, USMLE-Rx– Used sporadically, if I would have studied more I would have made sure to finish them. Found them both much less satisfying and more spotty than using UWorld. Would recommend doing most of these as timed, subject specific during Phase 1, then using just UWorld for random in the six weeks or so before the exam.

First Aid- Only study resource I used besides the Q-banks, found the depth just perfect. From my perspective, I would say use a hard copy and mark it up; I’m pretty sure the science says being able to visualized where something is on a page and what is around it gives it more context, and perhaps an easier time recalling/ using the data to rule out answers. (I say this for people who use an E-version with a text search function – if you have a hardcopy you should probably know it well enough that you don’t need to look things up in the index, and you can find them easily. Enough pontificating on the merits of paper).

Step 1 – 253

Thoughts: As you can see, much better than might have been predicted (just as I was hoping for- phew!). Personal opinion: I loved the questions on UWorld, and found the exam to be nearly identical in terms of question stem length and integration of knowledge required (I would hazard a guess that the average for Step 1 might be in the low 70s percentage-wise, considerably higher than UW’s low 60s, but much harder than the NBMEs with averages in the low 80s). There was a TON of critical thinking required/ able to be used. I keep my studying pretty mellow due to family time constraints, mostly 3 hrs/day x 4 weeks, and so my knowledge of FA was not super strong, but I found this hindered me hardly at all on the real test. Reasoning and understanding were far more important than details. It felt like I was able to think through almost every question to arrive at an answer. From my viewpoint, this made the actual test FAR superior to the NBMEs, which are fairly easy, but with some factoid questions that threw me off (not to mention a super steep curve on the right side, with above a raw 90% required to break 240, or whatever). In light of this integration and thought required, I never finished a block with more than three minutes left, versus my usual 15 on UW. When the Board changed the time per question to 90s to more adequately assess reasoning, they really achieved their goal! I left the exam feeling like it had been written for me, in terms of pushing me right to the limit of what I could handle but not beyond.


Bottom line- If you have always been an strong test taker (e.g., SATs 1500s, MCAT high 30s, medical school studying quite relaxed and non-time-intensive, etc), this test should play to your strengths, and leave you higher than predicted. [Our school’s academic support office swears by the NBMEs as the best predictors, but I found then very lacking in terms of format, challenge and score. UWSAs are where it is at!] If you have trouble with tests, I would really pay attention to the advice that time may prove to be an issue, and do all three q-banks on timed, random, as fast as you can. (I am also a believer in the power of increasing your brain power with reading- lots of dense philosophy, keeping up with the news, fiction etc. The more reading the better).


Best of luck to everyone! May you find your real score is right where you would have hoped!!

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

USMLE Step 1 – 254 Experience

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 268 IMG USMLE Step 1 Preparation



December 27, 2017
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