STEP 1 EXPERIENCE SCORE: 235
Hi everyone, I’m an IMG from Latin America, graduated in 2017. I want to say thanks to the Lord (CGMJI) because this
score is a fulfilled promise of the almighty God. I wanted to post this document because when I started my preparation,
documents like this filled me of courage in this process so I wanted to give back. The duration of my preparation was 9
months after I finished my social service medical year in my home country, I made many mistakes too but at the end it
was worth it, I want to share this so people don’t make the same mistakes as I did.
Starting Date: 3 March/2018, I wanted to take the exam in the next 6 months but it was IMPOSSIBLE…
Total Time: 9 months. 1 month before exam I took a observership in US. It was an awesome experience but I wasted time
in the rotation instead preparing my exam.
First aid (4-5 times)
Uworld (70% first pass / 90.5% second pass)
Kaplan Lecture Notes Videos 2014 and only for anatomy and embryology I preferred 2015 videos, all of them
without the books (I completed those videos in the first step of my preparation)
Anatomy: anatomy shelf notes PDF and Netter anatomy book
Pathology: Pathoma (Only the videos).
Micro: Sketchy micro 1.5 times . I LOVED IT
Biostat and ethics: UWorld biostats subject review online + USMLE RX questions on the subject, 100 cases by
UW first pass 70%, UW second pass 90.5%.
NBME 13: 207 (4 months before exam, after my 3rd time in FA and 1800Q done in UW)
NBME 15: 232 (2.5 months before Exam)
NBME 17: 228 (1.5 months before exam)
NBME 18: 228 (1 months before exam) For me was the hardest
NBME 19: 230 (15 days before exam)
NBME 12: 36 Wrongs (3.5 months before Exam, after NBME 13)
NBME 16: 32 Wrongs (2 months before Exam) It was a big mistake take this NBME offline because is one of the
most important NBMEs and the offline format doesn´t have the real answers, so you need to confirm by yourself
FREE120: I didn’t take these questions.
UWSA1: 249 (15 days before exam)
UWSA2:249 (7 days before exam)
Phase 1: Building a base (3 months)
When I started this trip I didn’t understand several things, I took the diagnostic test from Kaplan the first day of my
preparing and OMG that was frustrating, I scored 45%!!! I was very sad but I say to myself…It is normal, I only need to
I started with the Kaplan lectures notes videos 2014 for all the subjects except for anatomy and embryology (I preferred
2015), these videos helped me to build a base of knowledge since I barely remembered some of the topics tested on this
exam like biochem or Neuro Anatomy. I made a schedule for the videos, because I wanted to finish them as soon as
possible…This took almost 3 months, which in my opinion was waaaay to long.
My strategy was, while I watched the Kaplan videos I reviewed the same topics in the FA. I tried to do that with all the
basic and each system, and when I was in the pathology section of each system I watched the Pathoma videos as needed.
I recommended you Sketchy micro, those videos are awesome and helped me a lot in my micro preparation, after I finished
the Sketchy micro videos I read in a fast way all the PDF with the Sketchy’s Pictures.
The order that I chose for the Kaplan videos was: Biochem, Immuno, General pathology, Micro, General pharma,
Antibiotics, then Systems. At the end of this first 3 months I had read FA 1 time + Kaplan videos + Sketchy Micro + Pathoma.
ADVICE #1: Complete Kaplan videos as fast as you can, ONLY try to understand and don’t get caught in their details…
because at the end only UW and FA must be mastered…. You can annotate important points, high yield points directly
into first aid.
ADVICE #2: Annotate everything in your FA, everything is only every important note HAHAHA…. Pathoma + Sketchy micro
- Anatomy Shelf notes… Everything that you think is not in your FA and is important.
Phase 1.5 - 2: First Aid and Uworld.
As I told you before, I started reading first aid as soon as I started with the Kaplan lecture notes and that helped me to
understand everything from FA. As I was reading first aid I listened to the Pathoma lectures for each corresponding topic
and I annotated in first aid extra points that Dr. Sattar mentioned.
For me, In the first pass of FA it is vital that you UNDERSTAND the material, when you understand something you don’t
need to memorize it, learn the material, don’t just passively pass the pages. Every time I read a topic I asked myself how
the exam could test me on this, how can I memorize that. If you don’t understand something from fist aid, don’t just read
it passively and pass over it, google it, actively search for answers and explanations so you don’t forget. Associate as much
as you can, Make connections. So that’s why I spent my first 3 months complete Kaplan videos + FA + Sketchy + Pathoma.
Once you have read FA by first time and you have watched all the videos, at least you have read the information in your
mind, and that’s the perfect time for me to start UW. By this time, I found my first Study partner and that was ONE OF
THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES OF MY PROCESS, Because the Study partner will help you and motivate you; she motivated
me a lot, and we started to review topics from 7-11am and 2-6 pm everyday at least 20 pages of FA, while each one
completed at least 20-30 UW Questions every day.
I would like to remember an old advice: DO UWORLD AS SOON AS YOU CAN, take Uworld as a learning tool, your Uworld
percentage doesn’t determine your exam performance. At the beginning of my UW I was stressed with my % because in
my first Block I only reached like 40-50%, don’t worry you will improve with time.
When you are solving Uworld questions you need to analyze your thought process for every right and wrong question.
Read every explanation to detail, and the educational objectives are very important! Make emphasis on how to
differentiate between diseases. In the beginning I tried to remember each explanation, but after some blocks I realized
that it was difficult, and to correct that I started a new strategy: I started reading the explanation of UW, then I searched
the page of FA about that topic, if was necessary I took notes in my FA and after that I read the Educational objective of
UW and I decided to write in a little Notebook only the summary of the main idea of each question and in the end of the
day I read those lines in the notebook and It helped me to re confirm the knowledge. In any case that you feel necessary,
Write a little note in your FA from UW.
I did Uworld the first 800qs in tutor mode, the next 800qs in timed + tutor mode, and the last 800qs in timed mode (First
Pass of course). In the second pass all questions were in Timed. I tried to finish every question in 1 minute, in that way I
could finish each block in 40-45 mints and at least 10 minutes to spare to solve my marked questions.
How do I analyze a question: first I read the first line of the vignette, then I read the final question, I saw the answer
options and then I read the entire vignette every word, then try to predict an answer. Use logic as much as you can even
if you don’t know what the question is about, to rule out answers. Practice on reading the vignette only once so you don’t’
waste time on the exam.
After finishing Kaplan videos + UW only with 700qs left to finish first pass + 2nd time of FA with my study partner +
Pathoma + Sketchy Micro, I took NBME 13 online and I scored 207, I was devastated because when I reviewed that I
realized that I had several silly mistakes. My weak areas were Biostats, CVS, CNS, behavioral.
Phase 3: Improving my score, Final 3 months
I read first aid for the third time with my study partner, this time trying to re-memorize everything, I tried to cover up the
tables, and I tried to complete UW first pass as soon as possible. I would not go to the next page before firmly knowing
the information on the current page. I marked things that I had hard time memorizing, and I tried to re-read those pages
as many times as possible. I tried Anki Flash for a while, but I didn’t like that.
When I finished my first pass of UW and my third pass of FA, I gave more NBMEs I was happy but I did not felt ready,
because I realized that I had several silly mistakes. Every time that I took a NBME I tried to finish with another 2-3 blocks
of UW to simulate the exam. After this time, I read 100 cases of ethics and I read again anatomy shelf notes.
For Biostatics I completed the UW review for Step 1 + USMLE RX questions of Biostats + RANDY NEIL VIDEOS
(https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjTHgZY7U6pajEz61sQCHBw). FOR ME, THOSE VIDEOS IN YOUTUBE WERE THE
MOST IMPORTANT STEP IN MY BIOSTATS IMPROVING, you MUST watch them.
NBME’s: This was the key to improving my score, to be confident with myself, I did nbme 12 and 16 offline, but for me
have taken the 16 offline WAS A BIG MISTAKE. In each NBME I analyzed my thinking process and promised myself to never
make the same mistakes again. I actively looked for explanations of questions I did not understand in google, in the FB
group or in forums.
Phase 4: 2 months before the test
After I scheduled my exam, I tried to do FA again for 4 time with a new study partner because the first one took the exam
before me, and of course I started with the Uworld second pass. In the final month I started an observership and that
event changed my schedule, because I had to spent time in the rotation. I also took nbme 17, 18 and 19 along with UWSA
1 and 2. When I took NBME 18 I was FULL OF ANXIETY AND THAT WAS BAD FOR ME, after that I worked in my anxiety,
and that helped me to be without any Anxiety in NBME 19 and I scored 230 (and when I read in the FB group that 19 was
under predictive I was very happy HAHAHA), I took UWSA 2 one week before the exam and was overpredictive for me.
IMPORTANT ADVICE: TRY TO TAKE ALL THE NBMEs ONLINE, because you will know the correct answer and your
performance with your weak areas.
I tried to do a NBME followed of 3 blocks of UW on the same day because I wanted to simulate the real exam, see when I
was goanna need a bathroom break, when I got tired, when I needed food to wake up etc. Do this to see how are you
gonna manage your time on the test, I used to always do 2 blocks without leaving my seat to get used to it for the exam.
In the last week, I finished my second pass of UW with 90.5 % of correct questions, and I read several pages of FA in fast
way, I reviewed UWSA 2 and NBME 19 in this last week. I didn’t have time to do again the wrong or marked questions
because my UW subscription ended 3 days before my exam and I was without time.One day before the test: I went to the
Church CGMJI, I went to the cinema and I played video games, at night I reviewed some formulas. I was calm because I
knew I had done everything that I could to prepare for this test. I put my clothes in order, my scheduling permit and my
documents and all the things I needed for the test. Before sleep, I prayed to the lord and meditated to relax a bit more
and have more positive thoughts, I read the bible to give myself some courage, then I fell asleep.
Test day experience:
I woke up fresh, before I left my house I prayed again, I didn’t review any formula or any paper that day. I went to the test
center as comfortable as I could, and the staff of the prometric center were very kind. Food: I took with me some water,
almonds, Hershey’s chocolates, protein bars, Sandwich and an energy drink call V8 with “fruit” that I have tried before
and was tolerated by me. I also started Omeprazole 5 days before to avoid any gastritis and If you have eye strain problems
like me, take your eye drops and put them in your breaks. I also took some Acetaminophen to the test center in case my
head hurt. You leave all of your stuff in your locker by the way, and you have access to them on your breaks.
I started My first block, the first question was similar to a UW question and that was amazing! HAHAHA I said to myself
“Yes! OMG Thanks, WE CAN DO IT!”, I finished my first block in 45-50”, I started my second block and that block was very
hard, for me that was the hardest. After my second block I took a break of 15 mints.
I started my Third block after my break, after that I continued with the bock #4 and OMG… #4 was hard too. After my 4th
block I took another break of 25 minutes and I had lunch, I walked around the prometric center and I repeated to myself
several times “You can do it, you have studied, you can and The Lord will help you”. I returned to the prometic center and
started my Block #5, after I finished that I took another break of 5 mints, I returned to the Block #6 and after I finished I
had like 30 mints left in my total break time so I took my last break of 10 mints before I took my final block.
Basically I solved all blocks except the second one in about 40 to 50 minutes, giving me 10 or sometimes even 20 minutes
to go over my marked questions which were like 7-9 in every block, sometimes more. My break strategy was: 2 blocks
(with deep breathing in between blocks staying put in my seat), break, 2 more blocks, break for lunch, 1 block, break,
block, break, final block.
I finished my test exhausted and I felt ok and happy about the test, because the Lord helped me a lot. The waiting for the
results part was horrible, and I treated that with my Super Nintendo hahaha, I went to the cinema several times and I tried
to avoid thinking in the Exam, remember that after the test there’s nothing you can do, so just give yourself a nice break
and relax until results come, trust yourself and your knowledge.
I wanted to thank most importantly to the Almighty God of the CGMJI that fulfilled his promises and my family for putting
up with me while I studied. Thanks to my study partners in the world, Specially to Maya which were always there for
At the beginning of my preparation I believed a 230 like an impossible… and I got 235!
Good luck to everyone!!
“All things are possible for him who believes”