Hello everyone, I'm an IMG and this is my Step1 experience

Hello everyone, I’m an IMG and this is my Step1 experience.

Target score: 250
Step1 score: 261


First Aid

Boards and Beyond
B&B/Rx/Amboss Qbanks
YouTube (channels like Dirty Medicine, Cognitionis, Anatomy Zone, etc)
Physeo (for cardiac physiology)

I did not use Anki, Sketchy, BRS, Goljan or Kaplan.

My Step1 preparation in details

I started preparing for step1 back in summer last year after I graduated from medical school. Initially, I had no clue what resources I needed to use, then I came across the B&B website and read Dr. Ryan’s tips and advice, then I subscribed to the website. By the end of November, I finished B&B videos/Qbank, Pathoma, and my 1st read of First Aid. My dedicated period started in December with UWorld and I was determined to take the exam in April. It took me 2 months to finish my 1st round of UWorld (65%) side by side with First Aid. In early February, I took my 1st NBME and I scored way below my target score, then I spent the rest of that month doing questions from Rx (75%). In March, I started my 2nd round of UWorld in the random timed mode (85%), I also took several self-assessments during that month and the NBME scores were discouraging. In April, I received a cancellation email due to the coronavirus and they gave me a new date for June, I tried to reschedule for May because I had plans for the summer but there were no available dates. At that point, I had to find a new Qbank other than UW/B&B/Rx to stay on track, so I subscribed to Amboss for one month, I also did most of the questions in the random timed mode (72%). In May, I started working on my weak areas using YouTube, going over UWorld for the 3rd time, and also reading First Aid. In early June, I took the rest of NBMEs and reviewed the ones I had already taken, and I also read the notes I had written down from my 3rd round of UWorld. In the last 2 weeks before the exam, I mainly focused on First Aid and Pathoma, in the last 4 days I stayed in an Airbnb close to the Prometric center and the day before the exam I went over all the incorrect and marked questions in UWorld (140 questions).

My Self-Assessments (All online)

NBME 21: 221
Amboss: 238

NBME 22: 230
Rx1: 256
UWSA1: 256
Rx2: 246
NBME 20: 231

NBME 23: 233
NBME 19: 240

NBME 13: 234
NBME 15: 250

NBME 16: 257
NBME 17: 250
NBME 18: 255
NBME 24: 249
UWSA2: 258 (1 week out)
Free 120: 89% (3 days out, at the Prometric center)
Step1: 261

My thoughts

  • There are so many resources out there for step1, but after taking the exam I realized that the only important resources are First aid, UWorld, and Pathoma (especially the first 3 chapters). When you look at First Aid, you’re literally looking at the exam, UWorld puts First Aid in context, and Pathoma grants you free points on exam day. If you study these 3 resources very well, then you can easily answer most of the questions and get at least 250.

  • Coming out of the exam I felt happy, it wasn’t as difficult as everyone portrays and most of the questions were straightforward to the point that I had to read the question twice and thrice just to make sure they were not tricky (only a few turned out to be after careful reading). The question stems had the same length as the questions you see in a regular UWorld block with only a few longer ones accompanied with lab results. There were also some weird questions, but in my case, they were not too many (probably 3-5 per block), and I guarantee you that if you have the right mindset and think properly while taking the exam, you can get these questions right based on your logic/common sense and what you learn from the 3 main resources.

  • You don’t have to use Anki/Sketchy/BRS/Goljan/Kaplan, please don’t listen to those who tell you that you must do so because that will just add to your anxiety and overwhelm you with lots of unnecessary resources. Micro was the most difficult chapter for me to grasp and I was on the verge of going for sketchy, but back then I decided to read First Aid again and learn from questions, and gradually Micro became one of the easiest topics, so always give First Aid and UWorld another chance before you consider trying other resources. Also contrary to what some recent exam takers imply, I am firmly against reading any textbook for Step1, don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re not going to do well because you didn’t do this and that back in medical school, be gentle with yourself and trust the main 3 resources.

  • The more questions you see the better prepared you will be for the exam. That’s being said, make sure that you do these questions from the Qbanks in the timed mode to practice on reading questions and picking answers fast. Try not to get discouraged from your performance on UWorld and self-assessments, remember that all of that is just a practice.

  • The last month before the exam is the most important period and my advice here is to leave this month for your weak areas and the things that need to be memorized (mainly micro and pharma). Avoid trying anything new and stick to First Aid and your UWorld notes.

  • If you have never been to a Prometric center before, then I strongly recommend that you take the practice exam (free 120) at the center, this is super important because that way you will be mentally better prepared for the exam’s environment.

  • Make sure to have a good sleep the night before your exam, though I believe that the adrenaline rush will keep you focused and awake. Do watch Dirty Medicine YouTube video for more details on how to prepare yourself for the exam day.

  • Step1 does not define who you are or tell if you are going to be a good doctor, it only implies if you are a good test taker or not, please understand that and don’t let the score intimidate you. This is just a step of many more steps in this long beautiful journey ahead that no matter what happens there’s always something that pulls you back to it stronger than before.

“Ultimately, board preparation is a personal journey of expanding our minds to understand the beautiful complexity of the human body” -Dr. Jason Ryan.

Good luck to you all