USMLE Step 1 Experience of an International Medical Graduate – Ria Singh


Hey guys… I got my step 1 score today. This group has been amazing in helping me. Though it isn’t as amazing score as some of the other people posted here, I still would like to share some points on how I prepared and how I scored way more than my NBMEs and give back to the group. This is a long post but I hope it will be useful.


I started my preparation in February of 2017 with Kaplan LN and videos and Pathoma for pathology. It took me about three to four months to finish them and honestly, I wasted a lot of time on them. Just learn your base and go over them as quickly as possible. Then I began UWorld and FA. My first pass in UWorld was around 59 percent and it took me about three months to finish it along with FA. I had scheduled my exam in November and was tense since my scores were very low on the NBMEs. I had given UWSA 1 first about four months before my exam and got 205. I was still optimistic at this point since I had time on my hands.

I first took NBME 13 about two and a half months before my exam and got 38 wrong.

After another few weeks, I took NBME 15 and got 45 wrong. I was worried at this point and sat down and started reading FA again and doing more UWorld.

Then after another few weeks (I’m sorry I don’t really remember the time frames in which I did the NBMEs) I did NBME 16and got 47 wrongs. my marks were falling with each NBME. so, I kept on going back to FA and took NBME 16 again and got a score of 248 which was about two months before my exam, but I couldn’t really be satisfied with that since I had already known the answers.

Then I proceeded to take NBME 17 and got 232. I was a bit happy at this point and the exam was in one and a half month but afterward, I took NBME 18 in another week and scored a 217. I was continually getting depressed. It seemed that no matter how much I studied FA or did UWorld my marks weren’t improving. Then after another week of doing NBME 18, I did NBME 19 after going through some flashcards online. This time it was a devastating 207. I was super depressed at this point and had already scheduled my exam date. It was in 20 days. I realized there was something I wasn’t doing right since my seniors had said FA and UWorld were enough. So, I sat down and started memorizing fa completely from line to line and started doing the old NBMEs and redoing UWorld for the next 20 days. I even redid NBME 19. I had made a lot of silly mistakes in the NBMEs and when I went over them I would always be like “HOW DID I DO THIS WRONG?” to myself. I understood it all came down to having a clear mind and waiting a bit before choosing an answer. I did UWSA 2 exactly two weeks before my exam and got a 232. I was a bit hopeful at this point. Throughout the next days, I went through all the NBMEs and did any MCQs I found online.

On the day of the exam, I was tense till I entered the exam hall. Once I started the exam I cooled down and kept myself calm and I think that’s what saved me the most. I didn’t take many breaks and maybe just a ten minute one after the fourth block to eat something. I was running on pure adrenaline. It was definitely doable and wasn’t as tough as I had expected it to be. I had marked almost half of the questions per each block and had about 20 to 15 minutes left in which I went over them quickly. I am a pretty fast reader and I guess this is why I had so much time left but I don’t recommend reading fast as you may miss some points in the question.

Finally, till the result date, I was very tense. I honestly didn’t expect a 235 judging from my NBMEs. It felt like a miracle to improve that much in 20 days just by keeping my mind clear and reducing the number of mistakes that were well known. I felt that I had done the entire preparation process wrong and maybe could have scored a bit more if I had followed up on forums and groups earlier.

As a summary, what I wanted to say is, don’t be depressed about your NBME scores. Yes, I agree they are very predictive but it all depends on how much you’ve been practicing and memorizing. FA and UWorld are the Holy Grail. try going through FA as much as possible cause I guarantee you’ll find a new point every time you read it. Flashcards have helped me in the days before the exam and I strongly recommend them.

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

USMLE Step 1 – 252 Experience – HARIKA KANDLAKUNTA

USMLE Step 1 Experience – Gustavo Rosas

USMLE Step 1 Experience – 250 – Dr. Hemel Ahmed

December 26, 2017
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