I got 251 in step1. Here is my experience during the entire period

Hello, everyone, I am an IMG from India. I got 251 in step1. Here is my experience during the entire period.

Background:- IMG from India. I never even thought of giving Step 1 during my entire undergrad days. It was only in internship to give US residency a try. I remember I applied for electives in July for February dates which were near my end-internship days. I didn’t even make an ECFMG id let alone booking a Step 2CS dates. Never knew what books to study. Never seen Kaplan in my entire life.
I went just as an experiment loved it and bought First Aid 2018 Step 1 while coming back from the US and decided to study for Step 1.
During my entire graduation years, I never topped in my class got a few distinctions. Used to come in top 7 students in a batch of 150 students. So overall I was an above average but never had freakish savant abilities.
Also, I am a student from a private medical college based in Maharashtra

YOG:- 2018

Aim:- >260

So I started my preparation after coming back from the US and after completing my internship and all formalities. So I started in April end. As I had lost touch with all my pre-clinical subjects.
So I started with Kaplan videos and lecture notes. It took me 4 months to complete the videos and lectures. I was very slow in this phase. I wish I had done this quickly. I also used BRS for physiology and Pathoma for Pathology.
Next phase started with Uworld and FA. So I used to do FA one system followed by solving the same section in Uworld. An example I started with Neurology so I completed Neurology from FA then I did Uworld of the same section. There were many unavoidable things which happened in this phase which slowed (Got Malaria, my close family members got swine flu with 3 people admitted to ICU for ARDS I was lucky not to get it and innumerable other personal things ). These things affected me emotionally and physically. This slowed me down a lot but I never stopped studying. There were many breaks but never it was more than 20 days. So this phase went from August to January 1st week. Had to extend by exam from December to March.
Now the last phase is the most important phase. By this time I had near about completed Uworld (Could never say I completed Uworld till February as Uworld was crazily adding new questions. I was left with new questions and some general section questions) I had started doing NBME once every week. Low scores in starting NBME forced me to revise FA thoroughly and it magically helped in adding 10 points more in later NBME forms. I was in full flow started studying for 10-12 hours. Joined a study room as I was depressed. This decision helped me a lot. Had amazing parents whose unconditional support helped me get through.

A day before the exam:- Solved Free 120 and studied till 4:30 pm. Centre was very far from my place so I decided to live at my aunt’s place which was 20 minutes away from the center for minimal risk. Was dead tired after I reached my aunt’s place. But due to anxiety, I slept hardly for 4 hours maybe.

On the day of the exam:- Carried a sandwich. One bottle of Red Bull. Few protein bars. Took breaks after each section. Overall the questions were longer than NBME with many easy to extremely weird questions. While during the practice of Uworld I used to have at least 10-15 minutes for review. In the real test I hardly got 2 minutes with 1st two section it was just 30 seconds. Uworld does an amazing job of matching the interface with a real test.

Materials used:-
Kaplan videos with lectures:- While it is not as high yield it does an amazing job of understanding the basics. Special mention here is Neuroanatomy of I guess Dr. White, Dr. Turco Biochemistry and I personally also liked Dr. Moscatello Microbiology.

BRS physiology:- Does a pretty good job

Pathoma:- You get the original book shipped from the USA after you purchase a subscription. Dr.Sattar’s explanation was to the point.

Uworld:- Did it once. Online Timed System wise. Annotated all the points in my FA. Make my FA very messy. By the time I was done, there were >2650 questions.

First Aid:- I don’t even remember no of times I reviewed FA. Key here is understanding the concept because FA is too vast for just rote memorization. While there many sections which actually requires memorization (NBME helps in identifying those sections) but try to keep memorization to the minimum.

Boards and beyond:- I purchased it’s subscription when I was disappointed in my NBME performance. I didn’t have time to complete it. But saw the videos for topics I couldn’t remember or was weak in the section. It’s really good I wish I could complete it.

I referred to many youtube videos Special mention Biostatistics Dr. Randy Neill and Dirtyusmle.

NBME and UWSA performance
NBME 13:- 226 (2.5 months out was left with around 20% of the portion)
NBME 15:- 240 (5 weeks out)
NBME 16:- 234 (4 weeks out)
NBME 17:- 236 (3 weeks out)
I was badly disappointed with my NBME performance hence I decided to give UWSA1 on the day as the NBME 17
UWSA 1:- 254 (3 weeks out)
I knew UWSA1 is an over predictive but it boosted my morale like anything
At this point, I decided I need through look through FA
NBME 19:- 248 (2 weeks out)
NBME 18:- 246 (1 week out)
I divided my UWSA 2 into 2 parts. I did the 1st half with NBME 19 and 2nd half with NBME18
UWSA 2:- 260
Free 120:- 88.5%
Also, my Uworld % was 78%(I went through only once)
Real deal 15th March:- 251

Wait period after the exam was crazy. I gave it on a Friday and got it on 3rd Wednesday after the exams(3rd April). Was disappointed because I didn’t cross 261 but satisfied at least I crossed 250.

Few Special points:-
I did not have a study partner.
Could not religiously use Anki cards. I tried many times but not comfortable with it.
Could not use Goljan audios
I did not use any old NBME or Kaplan qbank.
Also for Indian students, I gave NEET this year got >610 (<15K rank). I didn’t a word from NEET books. Went solely with my FA knowledge (was about with around 25-30% portion).
Also any queries regarding the test, please post it in comments section so that it can help other students. And last but not the least I thank this group for the support and inspirational stories which made me feel confident about the exam and motivated me during hard times.