Step. 1 Experience
Graduate IMG from Pakistan
Duration: 14 months + with a lot of breaks (avoid it if possible, especially towards the end), last 8 months were dedicated, with 6-8 productive hours per day (7-10 hours in the last 2 months)
-Main resources: UW, Pathoma & FA(3 complete reads of FA, I labeled pages on FA that I wasn’t good at or which were very heavy on cramming, I went over them again a 4th time)
-Supplemental: Kaplan for Physio & Biochem + Boards and Beyond (videos only) for Neuro, Micro, Immuno, Pharma, some Genetics & Cardio + UW biostats review + around ~ 1000 Rx Q’s with FA first pass + Anki Bros deck (only got through around half the cards, got overwhelmed and stopped maturing the cards, a very good tool if you can keep up with it daily!)
-UW(Online) first pass (System wise-Untimed): 82%
I didn’t do a full second pass, Did around 800 marked + ~500 wrong questions on the second pass, Random timed mode
So 1.5 passes in total
Assessments in the order taken: (Only took them Online)
45 days out-UWSA-1-249
35 days out-NBME-20-240
25 days out-NBME-22-234 (dropped hard on me, so there’s hope for people crushed by an NBME)
16 days out-NBME-21-246
10 days out-NBME-18-263
3 days out-UWSA-2-262
3 days out-Free 120-91%
Real Deal: 255
My 2 cents:
-Start with UW as soon as possible, its an enormous learning resource and doing it well takes time.
- An adequate grip on FA is key, you can read it all together and then start Random UW or you can take it system by system, read a system from FA and then follow it with UW(I did this for UW first pass)
-Discuss things with your online/offline study partner/people taking the test around you. Discussion stimulates the mind and is always beneficial for all the parties involved. Also sometimes it helps to hear things from someone else’s perspective to clear your own concepts
-Don’t get discouraged with low scores in the new nbmes. For many they are underpredicting, so use their score to track your progress and look for weak areas but there’s a chance your score will be higher than them (20-22 have 20% repeats in them from older NBMEs, so if you’ve taken offline ones you should rely more on NBME 23 & 24 in addition to UWSA-2 & NBME-18)
-FA is necessary but UW is Gold. Both resources should be used in conjunction, especially in the last couple of months. I felt like my improvement towards the end came because of doing both FA and UW every day
-Quality over quantity reads of FA, Period.
-Don’t delay your exam after doing final pass of UW. UW has the highest yield and the most testable material you are likely to get in your exam (albeit asked from a different angle and phrased a little differently). This keeps some of those volatile concepts fresh in your mind that you don’t even realize you are losing a grip on slowly.
-Try to stick to a schedule if possible, sometimes it’s hard to do but it increases your productivity and even if you don’t end up following it religiously, don’t kill yourself over it, you’ll still end up doing more than you would have without a goal in mind.
-Keep yourself surrounded by positive people, this exam is so draining in itself that if you add toxic people to the mix, its possible to lose focus. Also, be positive to others around you. Don’t be that negative person who tries to pull others down.
-Exercise, watch a movie, go out, hang around with your people, do whatever you enjoy doing. Also, take a break once in a bit. It’s important to give yourself some time off studies as well, otherwise, burnout is real.
-On exam day stick to your routine with regards to caffeine and whatever your daily ritual is. I kept some light stuff to eat (dates, raisins, sandwiches, bananas) along with water and a redbull to sip for the last 2-3 blocks
-I took breaks in the order of 3-3-5-15-15-15 minutes after every block. Experiment how your brain works, personally, I prefer short breaks after each block over back to back blocks, find out what works for you and do that.
-Take any advice with a grain of salt, including this. We’re all different so it’s possible what works for one person might not work for another. Moreover, sometimes there is no one right way to do something, so listen to everyone, try things, find out what works for you and just keep doing that.
-Keep moving forward, keep pushing on, it’s hard sometimes but this exam is a test of your nerves in addition to your knowledge, so hang in there, persevere, stop thinking about your past mistakes, keep an eye on your goal and once again keeping moving on, you’ll get there eventually.
-For those who have had setbacks in their prep, remember the real measure of the character of a person is by how hard he/she can get hit, fall down, then get back up on their feet and keep moving on, stronger and more incisive than before. Be that person.
All the best!