USMLE Step 1 – 270 Experience


Dr. Bushra Hamadi… an IMG scored 270 in USMLE in 2017 end… A highly recommended experience

Bushra Hamadi
IMG Graduate – 2016
Books used:
FA 2017
Kaplan Lecture Notes (2017) + Videos
Goljan audio + Lecture Notes
HY Gross Anatomy
BRS Gross Anatomy
BRS Physiology
BRS Behavioural Science
Kaplan Medical Ethics 100 Questions
Kaplan Qbank (Offline only)
UWorld (Online and Offline)
Practice Tests:
Did all NBME and 2 UWSA and 2 Kaplan Practice Tests and 1 Kaplan Diagnostic Test
The scores of UWSA and 3 Kaplan tests was very over predictive. I would not bet on it as a good
gauge of the final score.
Preparation Timeline:
I started out first by gathering the material. As i did not have any knowledge beforehand as to
how this exam works, I first read as many examples as i could. I started out by checking
examineees who in the past had scored 270+ and tried to emulate their success by using the
same resources as they did. I never imagined that I would get the same score… But here i am
writing an experience 1 year later as to how i got a 270 score myself. It took me 14 months
actually to get the score i wanted to… For reaching this score i had to sacrifice a lot, work very hard
and had to give up many bad habits of time wasting to get it. I will write in detail how i made it this
far and how you could too…
I started with Kaplan Lecture Notes + Kaplan Videos… I had heard starting out with Physiology is a
good idea…so that is what i did… I started out doing Physiology but soon i found that the lecture
videos are very lengthy and not very high yield. So i started using BRS Physiology along with
Kaplan Lecture notes. I did entire BRS Physiology book…and the MCQs in it are very high yield.
They give a lot of information on important HY concepts of CVS and Respi which i personally
found very difficult to do. So after having done BRS Physiology, I did Kaplan Lecture notes of
Physiology one more time to try and strengthen this subject as it would be very important to do
before doing Patho. I then did UW, Kaplan Qbank offline. They helped me as it was subjectwise
prep and i was reinforcing what i had studied in the previous period in Kaplan + BRS.
I then went on to do Microbiology and Immunology… The Kaplan lecture videos of this subject are
so boring. I think i fell asleep in more than half of them… So i skipped them and i did the book of
Kaplan for Immuno and Micro only. I recommend not focusing on the Kaplan book much as FA +
UW is everything. I did UW offline and Kaplan Qbank offline for these too.
Then i started doing the dreaded Anatomy as it was the most asked subject in the time that i was
giving my test… I gave my test in December end of 2017. Anatomy was asked a lot especially pelvic
anatomy and perineal anatomy. Fortunately my profs in MBBS was heavy on anatomy and
anatomy was not a major issue for me and i was used to it. Still i did Kaplan Lec Notes + HY Gross
anatomy + BRS gross anatomy… I also did UW and Kaplan Qbank with it. It was very helpful. For
Anatomy i recommend doing all the CT scans and MRIs… especially the thigh, arm ones which
people neglect… I had as everyone does…done the abdomen and the thorax and skull ones… but
we should not neglect XRay, CT, MRI, Angio, Veno, etc of limbs as that is HY in exam too… Just do
the radio given in the books, qbanks i mentioned and you will do well.
Biochemistry is a subject which is a rarity… It is the only one which is good in Kaplan Lec Notes +
Videos. I recommend to do entire Kaplan Biochem as it is just amazing and the professor had
done an amazing job.
Patho + Pharmac –> I had done FA + Pathoma + Goljan (only audio + lec notes). Patho and Pharm
kinda go hand in hand so i did both of them together. It was very helpful to do these from
multiple sources. this phase alone took 4 months and i also did offline UW and offline Kaplan
Qbank along with this.
After this all i had left was Behavioural science… So i did UWorld + BRS Behavioural + Kaplan
Qbank + Kaplan Lectures for Behavioural Science…
By this time i had felt that i was forgetting the initial subjects… so i started doing NBMEs to make
sure i am remembering everything… I would do 1 NBME and then i would take a week to do it’s
answers and explanations. This was very vital for me… it took my score from 240s to 270s…as i did
each and every NBME it helped me understand the sections that i was weak in… It also helped me
set a schedule. I would revise my week parts and then do NBME every weekend. In this way i did
11 NBMEs. In my time there were total 15 NBMEs (Not named sequentially)… So i did 11 NBMEs…
so 200 ques in each i did 2200 questiosn…then i took a small break and i did my entire course
again… I did every subject again and then on day i sat for 2 NBMEs back to back in 1 day. I did this
to emulate a real exam scenario. This was very helpful in building stamina… I scored above 250 in
that so i took a date of 1.5 months away… in that much time i again did all subjects and did
remaining 2 NBMEs… I also did Kaplan Diagnostic test and Kaplan Full Tests and 2 UWSA tests.
They all overpredicted what i got… As i got almost 100% correct in all of them…
Then finally i got a 1 month UW subscription online and got 93% in it. I had already done
offline…so it was not first pass but second.
Final week:
I did all incorrect questions of UW and incorrect NBME questions… I also did tough subjects like
lysosomal storage diseases again… and development milestones.
Exam was tough… I had very little sleep the previous night and after exam was over i thought i had
performed very poorly… I did 2 blocks initially together…then small break…then third block… then
lunch and then for rest of blocks i took 7-10 min breaks in between. I recommend you do USMLE
tutorial on day before exam as everyone serious in giving exam well will give the exam in a way to
get 15 mins extra break time.
After 3 weeks of anxiety… finally got my score !! 270 !! No words can describe this feeling…