Step1 Experience Score: 270 Exam: March 2019

Result: April 2019
Graduate of Jinnah Sindh Medical University, Karachi, Pakistan.

I started preparing for this exam from January 2016, when I was in my 4th year of medical college. I used to cover subjects during my semesters on and off. Like studying for 2 months and then a gap for 2-3 months for semester studies. I somehow managed to cover all the subjects by the end of my graduation in December 2017. I did cover one read of First Aid along with Kaplan books but, didn’t memorise it.

I started reading First Aid properly this time by January 2018 and completed it by march 2018. During this time I watched first Aid express lectures that helped me alot in memorising the content of First Aid.

Resources that I used for each subject other than First Aid book, FA Express lectures and 2010 Kaplan lectures along with the book for all the subjects:

  • Biochemistry:
    2x Kaplan book and lectures.
  • Microbiology:
    Used Levinson Microbiology book for few sections. Read Kaplan for once because I compared the content written in the First Aid is more than enough. Many of fellows suggested me to go through sketchy microbiology but I found them as waste of time to memorise STORIES!
  • Immunology:
    2x Kaplan book and lectures.
  • Anatomy:
    High Yield Anatomy book that helped me to have a good grip on this subject. Used Anatomy shelf notes too, it took one day as most of the content in it is from High yield anatomy book. But for Neuroanatomy Kaplan and FA are enough.
  • Physiology:
    BRS book of physiology ( a good book for physiology review in a short time).
  • Pathology:
    Never used Kaplan for this subject. Did pathoma lectures and book twice. Read the Goljan book too during my semesters and it is the best book to go through if you are stuck on any topic or system. Most of the physiology basics are in it too.
  • Pharma:
    2x to 3x Kaplan book and lectures. This was the subject which gave me a hard time. Even a day before exam I felt like I need to go through the drugs one more time.
  • Behavioural sciences:
    2x Kaplan book and lectures. Also, 100 cases of ethics book and Uworld Review for Biostats.
  • Plus, I watched Dr. Najeeb’s lectures during my semesters and those helped me a lot with my basics, so if you are in 1st or 2nd year of med school and can manage the time, do watch them. But if you have already started preparing for Step1, then I would suggest not to use them as they will take a lot of your time.

After doing all this I started UWORLD by April 2018 and took around 6 months for the first read and one more month for the wrong questions as well. 78% was the average at the end of first read and I did it in TIMED mode, also randomly not system wise. Before I started uworld my weakest areas were Microbiology, Behavioural sciences and Pharmacology. But uworld made me memorise all the bugs and then I didn’t feel the need to review complete section of microbiology even till my exam. Though I had my subscription till march but didn’t go through the uworld for the second time, I used to solve the marked questions block whenever I had the time.

Other Qbanks that I used were:

  • Rx: 400-500 questions with explanations (average was in 80s). Rx is a good Qbank to cram FA incase Uworld didn’t do enough help for you.
  • Medbullets: 300-400 questions.

I started doing NBMEs after I did almost 80% of uworld. Few of them I did offline and few online.

  • Offline ones were NBME 06, 07, 11, 12, 13, 19.
  • Online ones were NBME 15, 16, 17, 18.
    I didn’t follow the same sequence, did them randomly. In all the offline ones I made 12-18 mistakes except NBME 7, and it was the first NBME I did with 20 plus mistakes.

UWSA 1, I did it right after I completed my first round of UWORLD and scored in 250s, and after reading the explanations I did my first online NBME, 15, in which I scored in 250s as well. I gave both these assessments in December 2018.

I used to read each topic that was covered in any NBME I gave. Luckily, this pattern of study helped me cover most of the topics that were tested in my exam. I found NBME pattern more easy than the Uworld pattern, because in Uworld you have more lengthy question and I had a hard time, managing the time during the blocks in Uworld.

Besides reading the topics that were covered in NBMEs, I tried to revise one or two systems during the gap of each NBME I gave, interval varied from one week to two weeks. By the February 2019, I was done with all the assessments except NBME 18, which I had on 1st March, 12 days before my exam and was very much satisfied with my score in it, as my target exam score was in 260s. During the last days I revised my weak areas, especially Pharmacology and Behavioural sciences (BS). I don’t know why but in all my assessments I scored low in BS and even in exam my BS graph was lowest of all.

UWSA 2 and NBME 18 were very close to my actual exam score.
I booked my exam date, 4 days before the exam after giving FREE 120questions assessment in which I scored 88%.

Total time duration was 1.5-2 years as I took a lot of breaks in my preparation and I used to study for total of 20 days in a month.

A day before my exam, I left books around 5pm in the evening, watched a movie, had early dinner and was off to bed by 10, watched videos of heart sounds that are on youtube and then slept by 11pm. And yes I started making this routine of sleeping by 12am, 2 weeks before my exam.

Exam day, got up at 6.45am and reached to the Prometric centre by 8.15am. Had to wait there for almost 45 minutes and my exam started at 9am. I found my exam more easy than any assessment I gave, solved almost every block in 50 minutes and then reviewed the marked questions in last 10minutes of each block. Took a break after every block, and ate snacks, and had juices and cold coffee, to keep my mind working (as during the preparation time I had this habit of eating something within an hour or two :D).

The pattern of exam was more of a uworld type and the topics that are covered in assessments is the major content of the exam, so try not to miss out on any explanations.

Everyone has a different way of memorising stuff, try not to copy others as this will only waste your time, listen to what everybody has to say but do what you think is better for you. Everybody has a different way of dealing with things, like in discussions I was not good at cross questioning mates or giving the answers rapidly. I just had this good way of solving the questions when alone, giving any assessment. Not all of us are good at everything, don’t be hopeless about anything there is always something in all of us that makes us better than others. So try to use that quality of yours and stay positive. One thing that I would like to emphasise here, is try to have a supportive company during your preparation who helps you motivate towards your goals, because they are the ones who will not let you down and will always give you a push in your bad times.

Thank you everyone!