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  #1  
Old 04-08-2015
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Default My step 1 exprience (w/o Kaplan, almost w/o FA)

Hi,
I just got my USMLE step 1 score and want to share my experience here just to pay back for a lot of things I learned on this forum (and ofcourse never followed exactly).
I am an old IMG (~10 years) and started my USMLE prep last summer (August).
From the posts here and elsewhere I noticed that everyone suggests that
FA+/-Kaplan+UW+Pathoma (or Goljan) is necessary (and sufficient) to get a decent score in the exam (decent for me last summer meant 240+).
I started with FA (2013 version), I studied microbiology. Eventhough I finished micro on FA I soon noticed that it's not my type of book. I vigorously searched every where on the web to figure out a way to do the whole thing without FA (and ofcourse kaplan notes which was another type of pain in the neck). NOTHING. There were some fresh AMGs who only did UW but even most of recent graduates emphasized on importance of FA (which I cannot deny is a great book if you know the stuff).
My conclusion was (based on many threads I read):
I would go for UW, will write down whatever I find on answers (even correct Qs). I will review that. For pathology which is supposed to be important I would use pathoma which is more doable than Goljan and review that two times.
There is obviously some anxiety when one chooses a simple method of preparation for such an important exam. I had to remind my self:
1-Med students and grads are such nerds that tend to overkill things and I witnessed it in 3 different countries and I could imagine that the well-accepted prep materials could be result of perfectionism rather than a minimalist approach.
2-be honest with myself and be prepared for a possible 220s score because I am too lazy and busy (working full-time as a postdoc) to follow the typical prep instructions.

From August on I did UW (in average 2-3 hours a day) and wrote down everything on paper(since I was using it as learning tool I went through questions subject by subject). I was done with 1 round of it (except pathology) in mid november. Mid november to mid january took me to finish pathoma + videos + UW (adding notes to pathoma).
From January to March 18 when I took my exam I got 1 and half weeks off from work when I studied +12 hours a day.. and also during my working days I would study ~6 hours a day).
From mid january I went back to my notes from UW (+1000 pages handwritten). It was done in 1 month.
At this point I took my first NBME (13): 232 (4weeks out)
Was so encouraging and already better than what I expected for the real thing.
For the next four weeks I reviewed pathoma once again (no videos this time). went back to my notes from UW. Tried to do the questions I did wrong on UW but I couldn't do all (I think I did ~30%).
3 days before the exam I did my second and last NBME (15): 249.
The last few days I got sick (fever and sore throat and stuff). Fortunately on the day of the exam I was better.

Exam experience: I think my exam was sooo difficult. More difficult than those NBMEs. It was only the last block that I felt "ok, this one is doable". I ran out of time on almost all block that I had to do the last 5 questions in 2-3 minutes. When I walked out I noticed 5 stupid mistakes which later made a list of 15 should have answered right mistakes. I really had no idea what my score would be. Somewhere between 200-250.
Today I got my score: 241.
Not brilliant but it is what I wished for last summer and I thought might be impossible with my prep method and my 10 years graduation. And at least now I can say it's doable to do 240+ without FA.

Regarding FA: On my last 2-3 days I checked FA for somethings that were not clear for me on my UW notes. I agree that FA is an amazing book. Now that I knew everything on UW, FA made a perfect sense and was much easier to go through. Maybe if I had 2 more weeks I would do a rapid skim over FA (and maybe not who knows) and maybe that would have meant 10+ scores.
Good luck everyone.
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  #2  
Old 04-08-2015
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So you wrote all your notes separate, you studied by organ system ?
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  #3  
Old 04-08-2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ezguy View Post
So you wrote all your notes separate, you studied by organ system ?
Yes. I wrote all of them separate like (anatomy, embryology, immunology, biochem, etc)
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Old 04-08-2015
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so what is best, doing by organ system or by subject ?

how about pharmacology ?
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  #5  
Old 04-08-2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ezguy View Post
so what is best, doing by organ system or by subject ?

how about pharmacology ?
I don't know. I think in the end that wouldn't make big difference. Whatever makes more sense to you or makes it easier to learn.
For pharmacology and the rest I actually selected questions based on subjects and on each subject (if there were enough Qs) I chose 1 organ system.
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Old 04-08-2015
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So you are saying Pathoma and UW is more than enough ?

also are you selling your notes ?
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  #7  
Old 04-08-2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ezguy View Post
So you are saying Pathoma and UW is more than enough ?

also are you selling your notes ?
Well, it depends on one's type of studying. It worked for me. I think with this method I could have got some thing in 250s too. But also maybe something in 220s.

Re: selling those notes, I doubt that can be easily usable for anyone else. Bad hand writing and stuff, so it's difficult to assess how much they worth and one haven't paid too much or too low.
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Old 04-08-2015
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how long did it take for you to write all your notes ?
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Old 04-08-2015
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Congratulations, really nice work! Best to you in the Match.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ezguy View Post
how long did it take for you to write all your notes ?
August to november
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Old 04-08-2015
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long time to write notes.

are you based in the US ? now step 2 ck and cs and match
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First of all Congratulations!!!

Did you do only pathoma or did you even do some topics from goljan?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CleverFOX View Post
First of all Congratulations!!!

Did you do only pathoma or did you even do some topics from goljan?
Never touched or seen Goljan.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reg2015 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by CleverFOX View Post
First of all Congratulations!!!

Did you do only pathoma or did you even do some topics from goljan?
Never touched or seen Goljan.
Okay...

Anyways nice thread,this tells us about a totally different approach to usmle step1 and that to you managed 240+...simply excellent...best of luck for your future mate
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