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Old 11-14-2015
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Default My road to 267 on the USMLE STEP 1 examination

BACKGROUND: My story like everyone else’s began with a dream. I was very certain of wanting to pursue my post-graduation abroad. I am an IMG from Mumbai currently in my 3rd year of med school. (Have 2 more years to go before I graduate). It was in my 2nd year that I decided to act towards what I wanted to do. So I went over to a counselling center and enrolled myself for the Kaplan courses (center prep) in the year 2013. I started the lecture series in the year 2014 as I had to wrap up some stuff prior to that. By Aug 2014 I was pretty sure of wanting to give off the exam in the year 2015. I visited the center almost 2-3 times a week. I would sit for 3-4 hours at a stretch and do the lectures. By the end of 2014 I was done with most lectures except Behavioral sciences and parts of biochemistry, pathology, physiology.
WHAT I COVERED FROM KAPLAN COURSES:
1) Behavioral sciences: The whole thing. Found it extremely useful. Dr Daugherty is an amazing professor and clarifies stuff amazingly. Did the lectures for chap 1 and 2 twice.
2) Biochemistry: All chaps once.
3) Pathology: Covered the whole of systemic. Did only neoplasia from the general path section.
4) Pharmacology: Again all lectures. Did the lectures for the volatile stuff like ANS and anti-arrhythmics twice.
5) Microbiology: all lectures once.
6) Physiology: Just CVS, Renal a bit of respiratory physiology, the whole of chap 1 (fluid distribution), nerve and muscle physiology.
7) Anatomy: The whole of anatomy except neuroanatomy. Histology lectures were a waste of time. Did anatomy as my last subject because it is extremely volatile.
MATERIALS USED OTHER THAN KAPLAN NOTES AND LECTURES.
****** FIRST AID FOR THE USMLE (LATEST EDITION) ***** practically the bible for step 1.
1) BRS for physiology: Very concise. Would recommend only if your basics are strong. 2
2) High yield neuroanatomy: Again extremely concise and volatile. Good for the neuroanatomy stuff tested on step 1. But again your basics have to be strong else you find yourself reading your base book every now and then (happened to me).
3) Dr Najeeb’s lectures: OK! SO this one is MASSIVE!!!! Concepts cleared BEAUTIFULLY!!! The lectures are amazing. Unfortunately, I found out about these extremely late during the course of my preparation. So did a select few chapters of physiology (renal and respiratory), neuroanatomy (a few lectures), ECG.
4) Goljan for pathology: The whole thing once. (every single page) Revise chapters like skin, musculoskeletal. (These are tested very frequently on the exam).
BOOKS I WOULD ADVISE IF YOU HAVE TIME:
1) Robbins and Cotran for pathology.
2) Clinical Microbiology made ridiculously simple.
3) Katzung basic principles for pharmacology: The chapters on pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics.

QUESTION BANKS
KAPLAN Q BANK
U WORLD
NBME FORM 15, 16, 17. (Have heard that form 13 is a good predictor of your final score. But an average of all your u world and nbmes is a better estimate rather than one single test).
STUDY PERIOD: 7 months intensive preparation
PHASE 1: I had started doing the Kaplan lectures and taking down notes into the Kaplan books since May 2014. Since I had to manage other academic and extra-academic stuff with it, it went a little slow. Nevertheless, I managed to complete most of the important subjects (except physiology) by the end of Jan’15. Annotate as much as you can from the lectures. It is better to be thorough in the beginning rather than incomplete later on. It takes some time but it is worth it in the end. Serves as a good reference book once you start solving the tests and you need to get a few concepts clear.
PHASE 2: January – June (First week). This was a very important period for me as I had to finish up all the Kaplan notes, BRS for physiology, High yield Neuroanatomy, Goljan for pathology along with videos of Dr. Najeeb. I had also started reading first aid some time around the early part of May. Dr Najeeb’s videos were extremely useful for some chapters of physiology like Respiratory (highly recommend), Renal, Cardiovascular (ECG) and any other system which you are particularly weak at. Again, this is very time consuming because you need to take down notes for the same, BUT they are totally worth it.
Lectures for reproductive and endocrine physiology and GI physiology are a waste of time and I do NOT recommend doing them. You can refer to the Kaplan videos for the high yield systems for physiology if time permits.
With reference to Dr Najeeb’s videos, Neuroanatomy requires a special mention. His lectures on intracranial hemorrhages, Spinal cord lesions, Meninges and the vestibular system are the only ones I could do due to a time constraint. But his neurology lectures are pretty elaborate and I would recommend doing most of them only if you have started your preparations in advance and can spare time for these. Now you can do away with these lectures as the neuroanatomy questions that show up on the main exam are relatively simple. But that is my perspective and opinions may vary.
This was also the time when I finished reading GOLJAN for pathology. Again, a time consuming process but a one-time thorough reading is definitely recommended.
The Kaplan q bank was particularly useful during this period as it helped me apply what I was reading and also helped me with time management. I never faced a time crunch for any test- Neither U world nor NBMEs and Neither on the main exam.
Phase 3; I started solving my U world Q bank (3 month subscription) in mid-June. Now this is a MUST-DO for the exam. There is no escaping this and each and every question needs to be solved and reviewed at least once. I solved the tests on the TIME MODE. Initially. I would combine 2 systems together and solve tests till I had about 80-100 questions pending per system. Now this number is variable as some systems have a lot of questions but others have very few. So be judicious and careful. The last 30 tests or so that I solved were mixed, like they show up on step1. Reviewing the tests is a task and it took me practically 4.5-5.5 hours to review each test. I would practically write down every little detail form u world into my FA. I had to attach at least 5-6 extra sheets per chapter to fit in the notes after there was no more space left on the FA pages. But doing this helped me a lot as my first time doing U World was very thorough and I could read up my notes every time I revised first aid. FA is the only book recommended while you’re in the whole U world phase because you need to get thorough with FA and you practically do NOT have the time to read anything else, especially if you’re still a student. You cannot compromise your academics at any cost because they matter equally.
PHASE 4: 26th July onwards till the date of my main step (1st September). This is the time to solve NBMEs, Kaplan simulated exams, Uworld self-assessments and also continue revising FA. I did the whole of FA thrice. A minimum of 2 readings is essential. You can revise the U world tests if you want to during the last 1.5 months. This is a timeline of my tests and the scores on each:
Kaplan simulated taken on 26-7-15 score 81%
NBME 15- (2ND AUG) 251
NBME 16- (15 TH AUG) 260
NBME 17 - (25TH AUG) 254
UWSA 1 - 8TH AUG - 263
UWSA 2 – 23 rd AUG- 262
UWORLD TOTAL - 77%
UW LAST 30 TESTS - 82%
KAPLAN Q BANK SOLVED 54%. SCORE 72%
Now a lot of people wonder what a good score is and many a times get demotivated with their NBME or UWSA scores. The deal here is NOT the individual scores but your progress and consistency. If you are scoring in the lower range (220-230) in your first NBME, your scores are bound to increase in the subsequent ones. So try and maintain a graph that is positive and if you have reached a point of saturation (250+) try and maintain that. The length of the questions on the main step corresponds to the length of the uwsa questions, but the difficulty is more along the lines of the NBMEs. But the key here is to NOT get bothered, even if your scores are below your expectations. You have to work hard, keep going and give it your best shot on the main exam. Go through the heart sounds over and over again and also the CTs, MRIs and other images.
There is a discrepancy between my test scores and my actual score. This is because, while doing these practice tests, I realized that I had a crazy tendency to overanalyze the questions and keep changing my answers and that actually got me a lot of incorrect questions. So I restrained myself from last minute changes and went with my gut feeling. It was a risky move but it paid off for me. So try and analyze why you are going wrong and work towards correcting them your way.
The D-DAY
Ohkay! Now I could fill up an entire page again on my experience on the day of the exam. But I’m going to keep this very concise and give you bullet points of the DO’s and DON’T’S
DO:
1) Get a good night’s sleep one day prior. Have a well-adjusted circadian rhythm. A sleepless night and anxiety won’t get you anything.
2) Wind up all your last minute revisions by the evening of the previous day. You have to resist the urge to keep going through FA. It messes with your mind and confuse you even more.
3) Comfortable clothing is the way to go. NO long sleeved outfits and preferably no pockets.
4) FOOOOD! Please carry good food and enough drinks to keep you hydrated. Anything that makes you feel good. Chocolates, cookies.. Whatever. It makes a difference.
5) Plan your breaks appropriately. Take a break after every block if you need it. I did the same.
6) Don’t panic staring at the questions. Try and guess an answer even if you’re not sure. Try NOT to skip and leave too many questions unanswered till the end because that can stress you out.
7) Pee when needed.
8) Never re-enter the exam room from a break just for the heck of getting done with the test. Re-enter only when you feel fresh enough for another block.
9) ENJOY after the exam regardless of how it went. You deserve it.
10) No usmle predictor (online) can predict your actual score.
DON’T:
PANIC, PANIC, PANIC!!!!
Have some faith in all the efforts you have put in for this one day. It will pay off in the end. Don’t let your worry get the better of you.
(And then finally wait for 3-4 painful weeks for the results to arrive)
THE REAL DEAL: 267. (23rd September)
It’s a long journey and it tries your patience at practically every other level. From an ECFMG certification to the application and what not. But that’s what you have friends for. Having a study partner helps you get through this exhausting process alive and breathing. It’s tougher when you’re all by yourself with no one to handle those frequent panic attacks and nightmares. Yes we all go through them and it can mess with you. And the only salvation at that time is the support of your family and friends who believe in you more than you believe in yourself. So don’t lose hope! And HAPPY STEP 1 DIARIES to all!!

Last edited by Priya6713; 11-18-2015 at 04:40 AM.
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  #2  
Old 11-14-2015
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Excellent post very detailed and congrats
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Congrats on ur great score.well deserved!!!can u tell me how many weeks you took off from Medical College to study for the exam??and how did u prepare Anatomy/Genetics/Ethics/Immuno sections for the test..since these sections r pretty tough these days
Thanks
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Congratulations for your great score Can you please tell me that which chapters are needed to be done from Behavioral science book ? and how did you prepare for ethics ?
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Old 11-14-2015
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Congrats! Amazing!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by achandra_23 View Post
Congrats on ur great score.well deserved!!!can u tell me how many weeks you took off from Medical College to study for the exam??and how did u prepare Anatomy/Genetics/Ethics/Immuno sections for the test..since these sections r pretty tough these days
Thanks

I couldn't really take many days off. Thankfully i had 2 three week vacations in may and July. Plus i took a 3 week off from my postings. And i took a 10 day holiday just before my exam till my majn step. Otherwise i had to attend college pretty regularly.
As gar as anatomy, immunology and genetics is concerned, i did the Kaplan lectures and notes and that's about it. Genetics is NOT tested much. At least it wasn't for me. Anatomy is tested quite a lot. And a lot of extra stuff.. i have heard high yield anatomy is pretty useful. So uyou can try and refer to that. Ethics wasn't my strong point. So 3 weeks before the exam i reviewed all uworld ethics questions again to look for a pattern. I went through the explanations carefully. And that helped me on the main step. So you can try that too..
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UsmleNewBye View Post
Congratulations for your great score Can you please tell me that which chapters are needed to be done from Behavioral science book ? and how did you prepare for ethics ?
All the chapters need to be done form the behavioural science book. They can test you on anything and everything. Try reviewing the uworld ethics questions over and over again and try analysing the pattern. It will hepl you.
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Congratulations on a great score!

I have a few questions;

1)What are your thoughts on using Pathoma instead of Goljan?Also did you listen to Goljan audio?
2)How many hours a day did you study?
3)Did you take the exam in 3rd year?Did you feel that basic knowledge of clinical subjects helped in solving some of the questions?
4)Also how did you juggle MBBS studies along-with USMLE studies?
5)Lastly what area on your exam was tested the most?

Thanks and congratulations again on such a massive achievement.
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Old 11-15-2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdiggz1878 View Post
Congratulations on a great score!

I have a few questions;

1)What are your thoughts on using Pathoma instead of Goljan?Also did you listen to Goljan audio?
2)How many hours a day did you study?
3)Did you take the exam in 3rd year?Did you feel that basic knowledge of clinical subjects helped in solving some of the questions?
4)Also how did you juggle MBBS studies along-with USMLE studies?
5)Lastly what area on your exam was tested the most?

Thanks and congratulations again on such a massive achievement.
First of all.. thanks a lot!!!
I did the general pathology lectures from pathoma and found them very useful. I didn't do the systemic path ones because i had done Robbins in my 2nd year and patho was my strong point. So i could overlook the systemic path videos. I personally i did not like the goljan audios as i prefer something more visually engaging.
I studied for 8-9 hours a day on days i did not have college and for 5-6 hours on the days i did. But please take into account that i am a slow reader and i never rush through with anything especially in my first reading. It'snot the duration but rather what you accomplish that matters.
I was very concerned about the clinical knowledge part. But my postings from 2nd and 3rd year helped me a lot. Also no matter what the questions are.. they ultimately test your knowledge on basic sciences. So giving step 1 in 3rd minor and getting a good score is pretty doable.
I had to overlook a lot of my 3rd year stuff because of step 1. Thankfully 3rd year is a comparatively light year .but i m struggling to wrap this stuff up as i have my finals due in 15 days.

Last edited by Priya6713; 11-18-2015 at 04:11 AM.
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Old 11-15-2015
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How did you cover B.S from KLN ? I mean did you read all the chapters from KLN or just specific one ?
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Old 11-18-2015
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Originally Posted by UsmleNewBye View Post
How did you cover B.S from KLN ? I mean did you read all the chapters from KLN or just specific one ?
I did all the chapters and videos of behavioural sciences. Did not leave anything undone. Its very important.
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Old 11-18-2015
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first congratulations of your great score!!

did u find KLN for gross anatomy enough for the real deal?
What's your thoughts about the immunology section in FA? sufficient or not?
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Old 11-18-2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T.Alanazi View Post
first congratulations of your great score!!

did u find KLN for gross anatomy enough for the real deal?
What's your thoughts about the immunology section in FA? sufficient or not?
Kaplan GA was not sufficient. I was tested on a lot of extra stuff from anatomy and that was a unanimous opinion of all those who gave the exam with me during that week.
The immunology section from FA is sufficient from a theoretical point of view. The exam tests you on the application of principles of immunology and its integration with other disciplines. So solving as many questions as you can is the way to go. And get thorough with first aid.
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Old 11-29-2015
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Thumbs Up Congratulations!!

Hey first of all congratulations and best of luck for the future.
I wanted to know about the Kaplan lectures. Did you take the online lectures?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelzac View Post
Hey first of all congratulations and best of luck for the future.
I wanted to know about the Kaplan lectures. Did you take the online lectures?
Hi , yes I had enrolled with a kaplan centre in my city. I didn't take the online correspondence package. Mine was a centre preparation.
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Old 01-14-2016
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Are you single?
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Old 01-16-2016
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Originally Posted by voicesinmyhead View Post
Are you single?
That's a personal question.
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Old 01-16-2016
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lol was meant to be!

I'm jackpot, as far as single guys go!

would you PM me?

p.s: I'll probably get a 260+ next month. Our desi babies will match into dermatology.

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Old 01-16-2016
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all these 260+ folks and here i am sweating to break 240 haha
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Old 01-16-2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voicesinmyhead View Post
lol was meant to be!

I'm jackpot, as far as single guys go!

would you PM me?

p.s: I'll probably get a 260+ next month. Our desi babies will match into dermatology.
i thought you were a girl. you are on SDN too right?
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Old 01-16-2016
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if u think that kaplan gross anatomy is not enough for high score then what do u recommend to supplement it . I have only done kaplan anatomy book plus videos and I have exam in march . If I take 2-3 days between the uworld to study gross anatomy what do u recommend to read?
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Old 01-17-2016
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Originally Posted by Drsaeed90 View Post
if u think that kaplan gross anatomy is not enough for high score then what do u recommend to supplement it . I have only done kaplan anatomy book plus videos and I have exam in march . If I take 2-3 days between the uworld to study gross anatomy what do u recommend to read?
Hi ! I have heard that high yield gross anatomy is really good. Especially for a quick read since you have already done Kaplan. You should give that a shot! Good luck with your preparation
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Old 01-17-2016
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Originally Posted by pseudomyxoma View Post
all these 260+ folks and here i am sweating to break 240 haha
You will definitely get there! Good luck
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  #24  
Old 01-17-2016
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thank you! amazing score btw!
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Old 01-28-2016
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Default i need advice please

i am a resident who has a hectic schedule as well as a family preparing to write step 1. the main issue for me is time as i am not putting in up to 6 hours per day in my studies. are there anybody in my category who has any useful suggestions on how i can go about this. thank you.
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