USMLE Step 1 – 261 Experience – Dr. Ezz – Egypt

#USMLE #Step1 Experience – 261


Hello everybody, My name is Hesham Mohammed Ezz. Im a 6th year medical student in Tanta Uni. in Egypt. I took step 1 exam on 15th October 2014 (Wednesday) and got my score report exactly 21 days later on 5th November 2015 (Wednesday).

I’d like to thank everybody on step 1 preparation group who provided help to others by answering questions , posting his experience and providing guidance to his/her fellow colleagues .. you are the real heros and may Allah provide you with those who will help you as much as you helped others .


So as you sow so shall you reap.


First of all I d like to confirm that I dont (and I think No one) has the ultimate right path for preparing and acing step 1 but eventually you just examine and evaluate the experiences of others and have your own experience and hope for the best.


I dont consider my experience a good one to follow as I did A LOT of mistakes in my preparation so I will only write some tips to take into consideration and some mistakes to avoid so that you may have a better preparation.



1-Anatomy: Kaplan videos(and yes I liked the kaplan Neuroanatomy vids!!) , a PDF called ”anatomy shelf notes” someone uploaded it into the group, FA14.


2-Physiology: Kaplan videos, BRS physiology , FA14.


3-Pharmacology: Kaplan vids , FA14.


4-Microbiology: TA7 videos , Kaplan HY videos , FA 14


5-Immunology: Kaplan vids , FA 14


6-Behavioural, statistics and psychiatry: Kaplan vids , BRS behavioural , physician patient relationship and defense mechanisms from High Yield (tables of quoted examples) , 100cases of dr.Fischer , FA 14.


7-Pathology: Pathoma vids and book , Goljan slides PDF , FA 14 , Goljan tapes in hematology and musculoskeletal.


8-Biochemistry, Molecular biology and Genetics: Kaplan vids and LN , FA 14.


  1. Banks:

1-USMLE World 2014.

2-Kqplan Q bank (but not pharma and pathology).

3-rx Q bank (only biochemistry, Mol. Bio. & Genetics)


Study strategy: I would listen to videos or read a book and annotate into FA and if a topic was quite large or not written at all in FA I would write the page number or take notes from the video or take screenshots and revise it every time with FA and I did the same with UW I would take notes or write a Q number so that I revise it later, I followed this method in all subjects and in the end I had the ultimate study source (annotated FA with a huge load of extra notes and sticky notes + certain topics from pathoma or BRS or Kaplan LNs…. + number of UW Qs + a lot of screen shots from different sources)



Form 7 – 620/254 – 4+ months away

Form 11 – offline , 11Qs wrong – 2 months away

Form 12 – offline, 12Qs wrong – 4+ months away

Form 13 – offline, 13Qs wrong smile emoticon – 4+ months away

Form 15 – 630/256 – 3 weeks away

Form 16 – 620/254 – 7 weeks away

Real deal – 261


Score report :


Here is the most important part in my experience ; the mistakes I ve done and how to avoid and some tips and tricks:


1-Start preparing seriously from the beginning don’t procrastinate. put a plan and stick to it but also try to be flexible not to lose hope , this is to avoid taking a very long time in the 1st read that will make u feel bored , overwhelmed and disconnected from the subjects you did earlier.


2- the main goal of the 1st read is understand everything (NOT memorize) , annotating FirstAid and adding extra notes to make your ultimate study source that will be the main source of revisions to avoid the need to re-listen and re-read kaplan vids and LNs again after the 1st read.


3- Solving UW and reading the detailed explanations helped A LOT in the exam so dont deprive yourself from this amazing source of explanations and try to solve it multiple times (I did it 4 times) to truley grasp the concepts and how to reach the aim of the question.


4- The ultimate determinant whether you are ready for the test or not is the NBMEs self assessments especially the latest ones 15 & 16 not the number of reads , If you can get your goal score in 2 or 3 self assessments then you are ready.


5-The path is really long and tiring so try to remain motivated , refreshed and confident that you can do whatever anybody could do….and may be better.


Some Tips regarding subjects :


Anatomy – The 1ry source I did is Kaplan and then revised FA and remained to revise Kaplan (with FA) till just before the exam as FA is deficient in anatomy.


Biochemistry – also the 1ry source was Kaplan and it helped me A LOT especially in molecular biology and genetics and even in metabolism and nutrition I wouldn’t have understood FA without studying Kaplan and also kaplan videos were super amazing.


Neuroanatomy – Despite what everybody said , I did kaplan videos in neuro and actually it helped me a lot, the guy might not be the best but he is ok, if u listen to the vids and directly annotate into FA and try to understand everything then solve UW I think you will be fine (at least thats what I did and I had absolutely no good base in neurology)


Pathology – Pathoma is super amazing especially if u have a weak background knowledge but also I would advice listening to goljan’s tapes he is much more experienced and familiar with the board concepts more


Pharmacology – Kaplan videos are extremely important , every word said by dr L. Raymond is very important , I ve met so many concepts explained only by kaplan ( not in FA)


Biostats – Try to understand biostats not only memories the equations but also know what relative risk =5 means and what to conclude when OR is 4 …etc.


Behavioural – I actually still dont know what’s right and what’s wrong regarding behav. I ve always got borderline/low performance till 3 weaks before the exam in it in the NBMEs (you may notice that Ive read almost every available source because it was my persistently weak subject) but in the exam I felt that the Qs are easier in behavioural than nbmes and I got high performance in the score report….may be Im just lucky.


Kaplan Q bank – it was kinda helpful ( any Qs solving is definitely helpful) but also it has large number of super wierd questions that you shouldn’t waste a lot of time in.


NBMEs – try to solve all the nbmes especially those on the online site to give u an idea of how the board Qs are layed out and they are about 1200 Qs , that is a really good practice…(UPDATE) Offline NBMEs I didnt consider them accurate assessment , just to give idea about the general performance and also a great practice material … It is advised that you do 2-3 online ones to actually assess yourself.


(UPDATE) Slides : Goljan slides pdf helped me a lot in the exam ..also did slides in FA14, Pathoma and UW… and also did Slides from HY neuroanatomy book


(UPDATE) Time management : Every Q shouldn’t take more than 1 min and ofcourse there will be Qs needing more time u should just mark the answer of your initial thought and mark it then revised it in the last 10-15 min of the block , I used to mark 14-18 Qs each block and revise later and by this aproach I never had less than 12min (and in some blocks 18min) at end of the block to revise.


Finally Im not posting how long I took preparing not to disappoint any body as I did alot of mistakes in early preparing and almost total 2 months stops but If I would do it again it wouldn’t take more than 10-12 months.

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

246 after 270+ in NBMEs – DON’T MAKE MY MISTAKE – Advice for Step 1 Candidates from Dr. Mahmoud Yousif

My Step 1 Experience by Dr. Adeyemi Emmanuel – 249

Karen Tien – USMLE Step 1 Experience – 243 – without Kaplan

December 11, 2017
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