USMLE Step 1 Experience – 265 – Must Read

Preparation time: 5.5 months

Sami Ghazaleh

An-Najah National University – Palestine

Graduated in May 2016


I have previously done Step 2 CK (263) and CS (Pass).

Study material:

  • First aid USMLE Step 1
  • UWorld
  • Kaplan Biochemistry book and videos (2010)
  • Kaplan Anatomy videos (2010)
  • Fundamentals of Pathology – Pathoma videos

Study plan:

  • Kaplan Biochemistry book and videos 15 days
  • First Aid USMLE Step 1, Fundamentals of Pathology- Pathoma videos, Kaplan Anatomy videos simultaneously 45 days
  • UWorld first run (85%) 40 days
  • Revision of study material 30 days
  • UWorld second run 20 days
  • Revision of selected topics and notes + Self assessments 15 days

Self-assessments (Last 15 days):

  • UWSA 1: 273 (17 mistakes)
  • NBME 15 (offline): 11 mistakes
  • NBME 17 (offline): 15 mistakes
  • NBME 18 (offline): 13 mistakes
  • NBME 19 (offline): 14 mistakes
  • NBME 16 (offline): 7 mistakes
  • UWSA 2: 275 (8 mistakes)
  • FRED: 92% (10 mistakes)

Preparation – 5.5 months

Kaplan Biochemistry book and videos – 15 days

It’s always a good idea to start with what you perceive is difficult. Biochemistry was a heavy burden for me and I had to get it off my chest. Kaplan did a very good job in explaining the material. I was relieved to know that I only needed to learn the high yield information. The material is easily forgettable however and I needed to revise it every now and then

First Aid for USMLE Step 1, Fundamentals of Pathology – Pathoma videos, Kaplan Anatomy videos simultaneously – 45 days

First aid is the corner stone for Step 1 preparation. This book is packed with information, and anything in it can show up on the exam. Doing Step 2 CK gave me a huge advantage. I could read through the book quickly as most of the material felt familiar. I remember that Microbiology and Neurology gave me a hard time. I used to read every chapter from FA and then watch Kaplan Anatomy and Pathoma videos and add what’s missing to FA. Fundamentals of Pathology – Pathoma was not really useful for me as most of the information in it was similar to what I’ve learned in Step 2 CK, and most of the histology pictures were in FA. The first 3 chapters were particularly useful though, and they were very high yield for the exam. I would occasionally go to Google and Wikipedia if I had a problem understanding something especially in anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology. I also liked Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy. I didn’t use it frequently, but it did help me in understanding a few things in anatomy. I had a study partner whose exam was on the same day as mine. This was very helpful as we used to have discussions and review material and questions at the end of the day.

UWorld first run – 40 days

UWorld is one of the highest yield sources out there. I subscribed for 6 months. I was aiming for 2 blocks/day when possible. I solved all the questions in Tutor mode. I did not mix the subjects or the systems. I marked 1100 – 1200 questions. I finished with a cumulative performance of 85%. For every question, I would read the relevant information from FA and add the what’s missing to it from UWorld.

Revision of study material – 30 days

I revised Kaplan Biochemistry book, first 3 chapters from Fundamentals of Pathology – Pathoma, and First Aid USMLE Step 1.

UWorld second run – 20 days

I redid the incorrect and marked questions and read their explanations. This time I mixed all the subjects and systems.

Revision of selected topics and notes + Self assessments – Last 15 days

I planned to solve all the NBME exams, but didn’t have enough time to do so. I recommend that everyone solves them as they are extremely high yield. I solved NBME 15-19 offline. I only intended to use them as a learning tool, so I didn’t solve them online. My self-assessments scores are in the first page.

Exam day

I skipped the tutorial as I already did it in FRED. In each block, I found 5-7 tricky questions. I just gave them my best, answered them, and then marked them. I finished most blocks with extra 15 mins. I used that extra time to review the marked questions. I ended some blocks with extra time and that time was added to my break time.

Books Used:

Fundamentals of Pathology (PATHOMA) book and lectures

USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes 2018

First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2018


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

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 254 – American Med School Student

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 255 – Med School Student 1

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 253 – International Medical Student

November 7, 2017
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