Hi guys, Namaste. I am Jyothiswaroop from Mamata Medical College,
India. I recently got my step 1 score. This is a small and humble
contribution to all the aspirants preparing for STEP 1.
Total duration of Preparation- 4 and half months.
Exam date –21 Sep 2018.
Result Date- 21 Nov 2018.
IntroUSMLE STEP 1 exam is a Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) based exam,
so however strong you are in your undergrad exams you need to
practice the art of solving MCQs in areas to be tested on STEP 1 and we
should train ourselves in solving them in timed frame. First and
foremost thing I did is to set a date for the exam which gives you real
fear of days you actually have for your study and exam. Just as you read
my experience I have read many experiences and gathered information
from students who scored above 250. I figured that almost all
suggested to have mastery over subject rather than months of
preparation (too long with interruptions and too short is not advised)
and revision is key for retention of core important stuff for getting good
score. Diagnose your weak areas and fill them with various resources.
I have read many telling that studying for 10-14 hrs a day will get you
good score but what I found was how qualitatively you use your time in
mastering the subject matters rather than spending too much time.
Always think in terms of tasks you have rather than time. Never try to
relax your schedule for too long, take breaks but try to catch up with
your schedule. Atleast at bed time tell yourselves you have mastered a
page of High yield stuff. Don’t waste time in entertainment it will be
hard for you to retain what you have studied. Try to focus on what is
essential and prioritize accordingly. Do regular exercise, yoga,
meditation during your prep as it will release endorphins and others
which will create pleasant mindset and ease your body to cooperate
during study time. Have sound sleep of 6-8hrs daily (REM sleep actually
helps you to consolidate your short term memory into the long term, so
don’t try to curtail this time).
ResourcesFirst Aid 2018 – Bhagavad Gita for USMLE STEP 1. We should use it
as an index book and add the stuff we get from multiple sources
(UWORLD, KAPLAN notes, Pathoma etc.) into it. Do annotate yourselves
which will be really helpful. Many emphasized to cram each and every
word of FA as they are most likely to be tested. I found it to be really
hard as it is not really my way of learning things. So, I used to do lots of
questions and review the content in the FA and by the end of my prep I
was able to recollect the contents without much effort.
I revised only FA in last month of prep. Don’t forget the rapid review
section at the back of the book.
Biochemistry- Dr.Sam Turco Kaplan lectures 2014 –very high yield
stuff. I really enjoyed listening his lectures. (“This makes sense”) He
makes biochemistry concepts so easy with his witty conversation. I
listened the lectures and annotated in Kaplan book and FA.
Physiology- BRS physio
Pathology- Pathoma videos and annotated in book. Took detailed
outlines of the videos. Highlighted all the facts he emphasized as “highyield”.
I listened Goljan audio lectures in my leisure time. It is real fun learning
pathology. It is old but gold. I loved it. You will find some questions
directly asked from Goljan.
Pharmacology – Kaplan notes and videos (Dr.Raymon).USMLE
pharmacology and Treatment Flashcards Dr.Conrad fischer. I didn’t find
sketchy pharma to be useful as it was very complex for every drug.
Microbiology -FA, Anki Flashcards, Uworld, and Sketchy Micro was
really fantastic. Covered most things. It is really amazing source and
makes memorizing microbes stuff easy, made Micro cakewalk for me.
Make sure you look at images of what the bugs look like under
Immunology – Kaplan videos and notes, FA, UWorld, Anki cards.
Biostatistics, Behavioral Sciences, Psychiatry
&Ethics: Kaplan notes with Kaplan Videos (Dr.Steven Daugherty)
- FA + Uworld
100 cases of Medical Ethics by Conrad Fischer.
BRS Behavioral sciences 7th edition- Only Questions -Really Great
material, I found most of the questions were similar to Uworld Q.
For Psychiatry- I found Memorable Psychiatry very helpful.
Here is the linkhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhmpi3yLeGg&list=PLeZk8BXkxXt
For Biostats - I watched Randy Neil Biostatistics in youtube. It is really
great and made biostats easy. Here is the link:
For Quality and safetyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO2cyC9DYDA
For ECG –UW, FA, I watched some videos of Strong medicine in
youtube. Here is the linkhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5cw1cAxXIs&list=PLYojB5NEEak
For Heart sounds –UW, some youtube videos –
I got around 4 questions with heart sounds.
Anki- I despised ANKI and flashcards method of learning in the
beginning because it was all about cramming and didn’t really found
useful but one thing changed my opinion about anki in the middle of
my preparation and that credit goes to www.yousmle.com . I read most
of the posts in that site and it convinced me how important it is for me
to use anki and its spaced repetition. I used Yousmle anki deck and
found out to be really useful with clear reasoning. Then I used Zanki
and other Decks for my weaker areas.
Qbanks – Uworld, Usmle Rx, Kaplan, NBME The more Qbanks u
do more exposure u get about the question patterns.
Caution- Try to complete all your Qbanks and other Study material stuff
1 month before your real exam. Last month of your prep must be just
for revision and assessment exams.
Uworld –As everyone emphasizes the importance of the question
bank I find to be the main tool (diamond) for cracking USMLE. It is to be
used most effectively to get benefited from it. It is precious period.
I did a block per day for 2 months. Took 5-8 hrs per day. From the
beginning I always did RANDOM and TIMED MODE rather than SUBJECT
WISE and TUTOR MODE. In my view untimed and tutor mode may
create bias while solving questions which may not be effective. After
completing a random timed mode block I used to read through
explanations thoroughly (both correct and incorrect responses) and I
found that explanations for questions is really great and one will tend
to note it in first aid as a summary near the topic. To be honest it is the
most time taking task. I recommend you to be as succinct as possible as
it will save your time.
I don’t recommend tutor mode because it doesn’t simulate testing
conditions well at all. This is very important. Don’t be afraid that uworld
blocks will reflect your score. I too had low score for each block in the
beginning but as time passed my score improved. I did UWORLD only
once and reviewed the wrong ones.
I found these links about UWORLD helpful- check out
USMLE Rx(I registered for free trial which is for 7 days and completed
around 1800 Questions by taking simulation of 7 blocks ). Thank god
they made access to every content for free for 7 days which allowed me
to do simulation mode and most of its questions. I only reviewed the
wrong ones along with express video. It is basically FA made into MCQs
so by doing it we essentially going to revise FA. I used this mainly for my
weak areas that I identified in my practice tests (psych, behavioural
science & biostats). Didn’t get too much additional information from it,
UWorld definitely was a lot better.
Kaplan Q bank book (only my weak areas)
My practice test’s scoresNBME 1-15 (Offline) – I solved them once to know what sort of
question patterns are asked. Be careful about the answer key as there
are lots of errors, then I realized the importance of online tests.
NBME 16(15 days out)-242
NBME 17(13 days out)-248
UWSA 1 (11 days out) - 266 and NBME 18 -242(2 tests back to back)
UWSA 2 (9 days out)-262 and NBME 19 – 248 (2 tests back to back)
Free 120 practice test (5 days out) – 89%.
Real Deal- 257
Give your Assessment exams once you feel that you are ready for the
exam. Don’t waste them.
I have postponed my exam once to 2 weeks later. (Feel free to do so
when you are not confident. At the end of the day what you are striving
for is to get good score in your real test). If you are not confident to
give your exam – watch this -
Test Day- Game day. Excitement and nervousness. I woke up early at
5 AM. Looked after some important HY pages that I have noted down.
Packed snacks and lunch.
Once you login with your credentials the total time will be 8 hrs
(including break time- 45 mins)
Test – I would describe the exam to be moderately difficult with a
mixture of NBME & UWorld style questions. There was a mixture of
easy, difficult and crazy questions. Expect some experimental
questions in every block. I couldn’t figure out any sort of logic in which
it could fit in. (don’t lose hope for the next blocks)
Timeline- Skipped Tutorial (saved 15 min) -Block1- Block 2 –
Break (10 min) - Block 3- Block 4- Lunch break (30 min) - Block
5- Break (10 min) - Block 6 – Break (10 min)- Block 7 – DONE!!!
Posttest thoughts- I was completely dejected and lost hope of
getting good score. I didn’t give my best because during last 2 blocks as
I was totally exhausted. I made many silly mistakes which I regret a lot.
Please try to avoid this by practicing long hour practice sessions similar
to real exam. Your performance really decreases towards the last
Waiting period – Usually result will be out by 3 – 4 weeks but in my
case it got prolonged to 8 weeks because of verification of credentials.
This phase of waiting for the score is worst part. I had flashbacks and
nightmares of getting low score and I had some sort of frustration and
regret of not giving my best. I tried constantly of not thinking about my
result but my efforts were in vain. I used to google about post step1
and everyone used to give me hope and solace that you should trust
your practice scores they somehow are going to appear on your real
test score. Now I realize that those comforting words to be true.
Normally scores will be released on Wednesday. So I used to refresh my
email inbox if I had any every day. I have called many times to Ecfmg for
enquiring about the delay of my score.
Finally after 8 weeks of waiting, on a fine (great) Wednesday email was
sent that my score is available. Suddenly I had adrenaline rush. After
opening the link when I checked out my score I was really jubilant and
was delighted that I crossed 255.
I think the most important thing is to find a study strategy that works
well for you and add things you can accommodate. Take input from
many sources and channelize them in your style. Never ever compare
yourselves with others and don’t undermine yourselves. It is your
journey and your story, so stay focused on your path.
Ultimately, preparation for this exam is not an easy feat. It’s a
marathon and patience during preparation, perseverance and
persistence is key.
There will be times where you can’t even think straight during your
preparation. I experienced those moments and that’s okay. Don’t
follow anyone or feel jealous about someone. If something great, be
humble and learn from it and improve yourselves. At the end of the day
you have to gain more than what you were the previous day. Don’t hurt
yourselves with negative feelings.
When you are not succeeding in your efforts, it is not you who is failing
but it is your method. So change your method rather than blaming
yourselves for your failure. Take a break and come back with greater
passion and energy to make your dream come true. To emit light we
must burn like fire. If you are committed to your cause no one can stop
it to happen. Don’t think of your past. Hard and smart work always
pays. Trust in your good preparation and result will be great.
Hope you found something useful. Forgive me if there are any errors.
I would like to thank everyone for the
All the best for your future endeavors
and excel in every effort you make.
Thank you very much.