USMLE Experience : 268 in Step1 - USMLE Experiences & Best Books for USMLE Preparation
Hi My Name is – Nimer Abushehab
Today I am going to share my USMLE Experience on step 1 study plan which I finished on
December 2015 and scored 268.
Length of focused study: 4 months
I tried to start in Jan 2015, but was working as research fellow and barely managed to watch
pathoma videos and add it to the book without memorizing, and quickly looked at BRS physiology,
neuroanatomy, and Kaplan Biochemistry and genetics. Then I stopped for several months until I
took a time off in August 2015 and started all over again. I did the test in December 2015. I was
very tight in time because I had to start working at a new hospital. Otherwise I might have studied
Previous USMLE steps: Step 2CK – 262
Year of graduation: 2013
Main books read for each topic:
Pathology: Pathoma book and videos (I love it !!)
Physiology: BRS physiology
Biochemistry and genetics: Kaplan Biochemistry and genetics
Microbiology: First Aid (I looked at the Lippincott cards quickly after each topic but barely added
some information about bacteria or viruses that are not in FA, I think it helped)
Neuroanatomy: High-yield + First Aid Anatomy and embryology: First Aid only
Immunology: First Aid only
Pharmacology: First Aid only
Behavioral: First Aid + I only solved the questions in Ethics part of BRS Behavioral (I felt weak in
ethics) without reading the book
Statistics: First Aid + Quickly looked at BRS Behavioral for anything I couldn’t understand and
solved the questions
Psychiatry: First Aid only
First Aid 2015: Where it says First Aid only up, I read the topic twice except psychiatry, behavioral,
and statistics which I only read once few days before exam.
Pathology: Barely looked once for few topics not all. Only memorized few extra things in the basic
pathology chapter. o Physiology: Looked quickly after each topic in BRS Physiology, but barely
found anything to add or memorize o Biochemistry and genetics: I read once after each topic in
Kaplan. Memorized the extra parts that are not in Kaplan. But I read the tables about Glycogen
Storage Diseases and Lysosomal Storage Diseases several time.
USMLE Rx: Did around 600 questions. Used to do some topics after I read them from text books. I
left notes on separate notebook. For people who don’t know it, it the official question bank for
First Aid. Styles of questions are similar to USMLE World but not as important.
USMLE World: The most important source of questions. Did it all after finishing my reading. Used
to do 80-100 questions a day because I was running out of time. Quickly read explanation and left
notes on a separate notebook. I only did it once. Then quickly went through more than half the
questions I did wrong. I never left a note of FA. If I totally forgot about the topic of the question I
sometime would go back and read about it quickly.
I left notes on separate note books when I was doing question banks. I read most of them quickly
before the test but didn’t have time to read them all. None of them actually showed on the real
exam. So they were not vey helpful.
UW question bank (started almost 1 month before test) – Mixed: 89% UWSA 1 (6 days before
test): 261 NBME 16 (4 days before test): 269 – Most accurate NBME 17 (3 days before test): 266
The most important part I believe was not how much you memorize but how much you
understand. You will see this on the real exam. Almost all the questions are clinical and you can’t
pinpoint the answer in any text book or FA. So you have to understand what you read. I used to
look at Wikipedia if there was something I didn’t understand. Number of times you read FA has
do with your performance if you don’t understand the content. You are just wasting your time. At
the same time, in my case, I believe not finishing all FA was not a smart idea, but I was running out
Doing UW many times is also a waste of your time. If you have time after finishing it, redo only the
questions you got wrong, and use the extra time to look for another source. Practicing questions
is the most important part.
I honestly never used Anki, although the concept is very nice.
I did step 2 CK before step 1, and I felt it really helped. The question style is clinical which is
something you get used to, and it helped me to go quickly through pathology as I already knew
most of it from step 2.
Feeling that you are forgetting what you read is very normal, unless your self assessment tells you
It is very important to learn how to do the questions more efficiently. The time is limited and if you
spend more time on one question you might lose the others. Mark any question you don’t know
or you suspect and then at the end of the block go back to those you marked. The stress during
the first round through the block is way more, which makes it harder to think deep.
Before test day: The day before test day I had to look at my notes but couldn’t read them all as I
said. I tried to have enough sleep.
Test day: On test day I went wearing my pajamas. It is very important to feel comfortable sitting all
this time. You can start whenever you show up unless you come late, I came 30 minutes earlier
and started then. I felt the first block was the hardest. Then you get used to the situation. I did 2
blocks – break – 2 blocks – break – 1 block – break – 1 block – break – 1 block
At the end I would look to thank everyone who helped me before and during my preparation, and
I would like to pay it forward for anyone who needs any advice.