USMLE Step 1 – 261 – Experience – IMG 2017

USMLE Experience - 261

Exam Date: 5 April, 2017 – 268 questions

Score: 261 Alhamdulilah

Total studying time: 4-5 Months

4-6 hours a day, last month only 8-10 Hours


NBME 11 246 (offline) 1 month After CK exam (after reading pathoma)

Uworld random Timed mode, 90%

UWSA 2 256 (online) 2 month before exam

NBME 17 260 (offline) 2 month before exam

NBME 15 270 (online) 15 days before exam

NBME 18 256 (online) 16 days before exam

Hello Friends, hope you people are doing great.

My name is Awais Aslam and I am Graduate of Allama Iqbal medical college Lahore Pakistan. (2015)

My journey of Step 1 was little tough as I went through different phases during my Prep.

I started my Step 1 prep after My Step 2 CK ( dec 2015). Got my Ck score report in dec. Score was 252. Alhamdulilah.

I read Fundamental Of Pathology – pathoma in January 2016, took me whole month with video lectures, Did NBME 11 scored 246. I got relaxed and lazy after that. All things of step 1 were almost the same as were in step 2 CK. Both exams overlap by almost 60-70%. I became over-confident after nbme 11, and did not study, I would study on and off biochem Kaplan Lecture Notes and procrastinate more. It took me more than a month to just finish Kaplan biochem with videos and I didnt retain much, it was mid February already and as I intended to apply this match (2017) so I applied for CS exam and visa at that time, got approved than took my step 1 date of june 2, 2016. And I had not read First Aid USMLE or uworld at that time. My friend and study partner encouraged me to go ahead and do uworld as there is still ample time left to take step 1, but I felt that I am not going to make it, I ll not be able to apply this match as I have wasted so much time already, this made me hopeless, i started offline uwrld did 20 % of it , but got interrupted. there was some health issues at home, My father Had Myocardial infarction , so my step 1 got delayed. Alhamdulilah he recovered well by grace of Allah Almighty.

my plans were changed by than. I travelled to USA for my Clinical skills examination and observership in june, , stayed there for 6 months, intended to take step 1 there, but couldn’t manage studies with rotations. I did First aid in that period but couldn’t retain much, subscription , did 80 % of questions in 20 days . but couldn’t finish the rest, procrastinated again the whole month and came back to Pakistan in November as I knew by than I could not apply this match, not even late application ll be of any benefit now. Finished the rest of uwrold in January 2017. I Did uworld only once. I was frustrated by than as I could not follow my plans , I didn’t have a tempo, no study plans, I wasted one year and I was still there where I was one year ago. I have not studied a single day for 5 hours consistently in the previous year. I was a bit depressed by than. At that time one of my friend who just recently took step 1, asked me to do his leftover UWSA 2, he did not attempt it for his exam. I was not hoping that I would do great on it. it was 256.

After that I revised first aid thoroughly and took nbme 17, it was 260. I was still studying only 6 hours. I decided to be more serious about it. Took exam date and Started first aid again. Finished in 30 days with Kaplan pharma and biochem, took 18 online 256, next day did nbme 15 270. and I thought that’s it. Its Time.

I want to say that my journey was not ideal , the things that worked for me may not be equally helpful for all of you since I did my CK first and a lot of things I did not even revised before taking my exam like ethics and biostat and anatomy, yes that’s true.

Ok coming straight to the point , I studied for like 4-5 months.

Study plan:

  • 1st read of pathology = Fundamentals of Pathology – pathoma
  • 1st read of anatomy = no anatomy, just First Aid USMLE Step 1 and uworld
  • 1st read of physio= no physio either. Just First Aid USMLE and UWorld
  • 1st read pharmacology = kaplan basic pharma, first chapters till anesthetics
  • 1st read bichemistry = Kaplan biochemistry lecture notes, read it very thoroughly. 2 times.
  • 1st read biostats from kaplan : just 1 day before exam
  • Immunology and microbiology: First Aid USMLE Step 1 was enough

First aid USMLE almost 4 times and that made the difference. Quality is important not the Quantity. Just google that thing which you don’t understand in FA. Uworld 1 time random. Listened to Heart sounds on exam day morning, advice: just do renal, cvs and pulmo physiology. pharma Kaplan till anesthetics. biochem Kaplan biostat Kaplan/uw biostat review ethics 100 cases. first aid and uworld no benefit of resources other than these. neuroanatomy if you think its your weak area, otherwise you are okey with only FA and uworld.


I was bit relaxed as I knew I am finally going to take my exam. I travelled from my home city to another to take the exam, that travel cost me my sleep, bit of a bus lag and I could not sleep well on my exam night. I took zolpidem on exam night, slept for 4 hours only. my advice is not to travel near your exam. Or atleast travel few days ahead of it. sleep is very important. Time was enough, I would do block in 45-50 mins and than review my marked qstns. But I was having trouble to concentrate on qstns due to poor sleep. sleep is very important. Mark it. I had 28 qstns in my last block.

• I took 2 mins break after every block sitting on the chair, as moving out of the cabin costs you more time. Did 3 blocks in a row. After that I had a headache due to poor sleep could not concentrate more. Took panadol.

• Took one 1o min break after 3 blocks and ate my lunch , after doing one block again took 10 min break for namaz and food.

• Important dont panic if u get a very long statement of a question, believe me the longer the stem of a Q the easier it is. I mean I would get happy to see a long statement caz u have more info to sort out the problem. Just read the question before reading long stem, sometimes its asking very simple qstn.

• Don’t panic if u don’t know the answer, pick more relevant option and move on. Don’t waste time on one item u may be loosing time for those ones u know.

• The patho questions with gross specimens , nutrition was tested mostly in my exam.

• There will be Cvs, renal and respiratory physiology qstns.

• There will be MRI of limbs and abd /cervical spine and CT abdomen/thorax/brain with all ANATOMY questions.

My advice is Don’t worry if you are going slow but you must know what your plans are, you must set your daily , weekly , monthly targets, plan ahead and try to achieve these targets. Things ll not work as you planned. But you ll get there eventually. sometimes going very slow make you depressed and frustrated, but this journey of usmle is tough yes. Its Tough , But its doable. I was an average student during medical school. If I did it ,so can you. Just be persistant and keep going. And one very important advice , if you are stressed out or depressed please do not open book it will only make it worse because whatever u will study during that time will take as double as the time u would have taken studying in a good mood with fresh mind. Go out with friends, pray and spend few hours away from books. Pray to Allah and ask anything. He ll reward you in shaa ALLAH. Wish you All the Best ! And please just don’t procrastinate too much ! 😛 And if u have any other query feel free to ask me on facebook anytime.

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

USMLE Step 1 – 240 Experience – US AMG

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

US Medical Student scores 256 – USMLE Step 1 Experience

November 12, 2017
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