My Step 1 experience - 252 - USMLE Forums
USMLE Forums Logo
USMLE Forums         Your Reliable USMLE Online Community     Members     Posts
Home
USMLE Articles
USMLE News
USMLE Polls
USMLE Books
USMLE Apps
Go Back   USMLE Forums > USMLE Step 1 Forum

USMLE Step 1 Forum USMLE Step 1 Discussion Forum: Let's talk about anything related to USMLE Step 1 exam


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-23-2014
USMLE Forums Newbie
 
Steps History: Step 1 Only
Posts: 4
Threads: 1
Thanked 21 Times in 1 Post
Reputation: 31
Default My Step 1 experience - 252

Hi all,

Having been a silent reader on this website for a couple of months, I felt that I should share my exam experience with you guys as a thanks for all the support and advice as well as to help any future test takers that are to come. Feel free to copy my experience to any other threads or websites of your liking.

I am a fourth year medical student studying in a UK-system based University and Hospital (my university is a member of the NHS and we follow the same educational system: start medical school at age 18 for 5 years followed by two years of Foundation Programme before your can start your specialist training [residency] ).

I did my exam in London on the 24-12-13 and received the result on the 21-01-14 with a score of 252 (three digit scores apply only from now on). Needless to say I am extremely happy with the result.

For those students studying in the UK or in any UK-system based university I would like to clarify certain things:

1) It is true that Step 1, even though being labelled as the Basic Sciences Exam, is not completely equal to our Basic sciences years (Year 1 and 2) in content. Most of the concepts tested are clinically based so the knowledge acquired from your 1st and 2nd year is not necessarily enough for the step 1. During my studies for Step 1 I was still learning a considerable amount of things (I would say more than half the content) for the first time. This does NOT mean that you cannot tackle Step 1 before having finished your clinical years (Year 3 and 4).

2) I chose to do them now (before having graduated) for three reasons:

a) Some elements of the exam are covered during the first two years and the further you delay the harder it may be to recall those concepts with ease.
b) With a pass in step 1 you can apply for more US based clinical elective as a student
c) Getting step 1 out of the way during my years as a student allows me to tackle step 2 CS and CK during my foundation program years with ease so that I can apply for residency (hopefully) without taking a year off just to become ECFMG certified.

3) Balancing between step 1 and studying for your medical school exams whilst attending lectures, tutorials and ward rounds is definitely possible; you just need to be ready to work hard and consistently, start your studies earlier and make a well planned strategy.

Preparation

I technically started my preparation 1 year before my test (total prep time 8 months; see below) however the first three months were a bit of a waste of time. I read through all of the Kaplan books (2010 version) in those three months reading for 2-3 hours a day. In retrospect I would have skipped Kaplan and went straight to First aid. I found the Kaplan series to be too long, tedious and not very representative of the exam.

Next, I went through my first read of first aid. This was much better for me, I started getting an idea of the main subjects and concepts tested and I found the layout and presentation of the book to be excellent. For those finding it to be too crammed you have to understand that Step 1 is very vast and this book summarises the content in a very organised manner. Do not worry if things still seem to be in the air after the first read of first aid, you will grasp things better by reading it over and over, which I did. Seriously, First Aid is an unbelievably well written book and it is the definite BIBLE for Step 1. My First read took around 10 weeks studying 3-4 hours a day. I tend to prefer studying by taking my time instead of repeating the book over and over. I would highlight and underline (many times excessively) important details as well as add any notes in pencil. I would also try to connect any detail with ones I would have read previously by annotating see page xx which would make things easier during the second read. I found this to be extremely helpful as it manages to connect different details in the book which are related but are not necessarily close to each other or even in the same chapter. With this method I felt that I managed to eliminate one of the shortcomings of first aid mentioned previously. After each chapter I would do the First Aid Q and A book questions related to that same chapter. I would get around 50 % correct only and in retrospect this book was not very useful and representative for me as the questions are totally different to the real step 1 questions in format and content. The first read was more of a learning exercise rather than memorising exercise.

After having done my first read I had to study for my third year finals so I didn't do anything for a month. This was followed by a month of exams and this was then followed by a two month elective. I had therefore spent 4 months without revising first aid after my first read.

Next came the second read of first aid. This took around 5 weeks. I basically went through the whole book again specifically focusing on the underlined details as well as the connection annotations. This read was more of a memorising/studying exercise. By the end of this read I stopped studying/reading for my medical schools exams at this point and was only attending lectures and ward rounds. I applied for the Step 1 at this point.

Next up were the Q banks. I cannot stress enough how important these are. The remaining 20 percent of content not covered by First aid is definitely covered by the Q banks. However this is not the reason you should do Q banks. Q banks allow you to become familiar with the style of questions in the exam and allow you to practice different strategies that work best for you. This is a a very significant limiting factor in exam score. Do not rely on pure knowledge only for this exam, test taking skills are essential and this is what Q banks are for. I only did Uworld once and it took me around 5 weeks to finish it completely. I would do 1-1.5 blocks a day random timed with the reviews as well (5-7 hours a day). I started off getting low 50's % correct average (sometimes even getting 40's % correct) which was a major blow to my confidence but managed to barrel through as everyone seems to agree that one should use Uworld as a learning tool rather than an assessment tool. This is completely true; do not be discouraged by your scores, if anything this is the hardest part of preparation as your confidence is at it's lowest, just keep doing block after block until you finish all the bank. Do each block in exam conditions and always try your best in every question. This way you start to shape the mindset required for tackling step 1; cross out the answers you are sure that are incorrect first and then try to rationalise which of the remaining ones is the best answer. If you are stuck always go for the one which seems most familiar to you, no matter how distant in the realms of your memory (educated guessing). I am not a fan of highlighting important points in the question; I see it as a waste of precious time which doesn't help at all. Always be aware of the time; it was a major limiting factor for me as I like to take my time with questions but try to complete 23 (half) of the questions a couple of minutes before the 30 minute mark so by the end you have approximately 4 minutes of checking marked answers. I would mark questions quite freely at first (even if completely unsure of the correct answer, I would select the best option and mark the question for later review), but by the end of the bank I changed my approach to marking the ones I knew I had enough knowledge to commit to changing the answer. The completely bewildering questions would be tackled using the educated guessing method but I would not mark these as any further attempt to change the answer would be futile. Instead I would spend any remaining time on the ones I knew I had a shot at changing to a better (and hopefully correct) answer. During the review I would read all the explanation briefly then mark on the corresponding page of First aid the question ID number. This would later help me in my third review of first aid to search for each individual question whilst reading on a particular topic. Sometimes I would annotate first aid with notes from the particular educational objective of the question instead of writing the question ID number for later review. I slowly started to increase my scores in each block from low 50's to high 50's then low 60's and finally on to high 60's. Towards the end I scored some 70's and even one 85% but these did not amount to more than 10 blocks in total. My final average score was in fact 61%. I did not use any other Qbanks besides from Uworld so I cannot comment on others such as Kaplan. However in my experience doing any more than one is a bit of an overkill; I was dead by the end of the bank (around 2300 questions in total).

Next came the third review of first aid which took around 2.5 weeks. I went through it again this time focusing on memorising details to a higher level whilst revisiting the questions related to that topic according the the question ID I annotated on first Aid (use the search function on Uworld for this under the utilities tab).

Next up were the NBME's. I had stopped attending any lectures or ward rounds by this time (I was lucky as most of them had been done and the Christmas Holidays were approaching so we had less and less things to attend so I barely missed out on anything important). It is important to say that I also did Uworld self assesment examination prior to the NBME's. I did no 1 after completing half of the uworld Qbank and scored 225. I did the no 2 after completing Uworld and scored 256 (however I felt that I was extremely lucky in this one and the questions seemed a bit easier than usual). I did my all my NBME's in 1.5-2 weeks. NBME's are definitely more representative of the style and difficulty of the real exam questions, Uworld questions (including the self assessments) have a different style and are harder than NBME's overall. However the NBME's tend to have harsh scoring bell curves so they tend to underestimate your score in my opinion (at least that is what happened for me). Do the NBME's in complete exam format, take breaks as you are planning to do so during the real exam and eat as you are planning to do so in the exam too. After each NBME I would spend that day and the next going over the areas I did worst in but I wasn't too fussy about this as sometimes areas marked as your weakest aren't necessarily so, you just happened to find those particular questions difficult or got them wrong for any other reason. I would look up the wrong answers for the NBME's on the net (there are plenty of forums out there discussing questions) but I wouldn't spend more than 1 hour doing this as I did not see it to be very useful.

This is the succession I took NBME's:

NBME 15: 235
NMBE 7: 240
NBME 13: 247
NBME 12: 245
NBME 11: 247

Next up was the final review of first aid (around 10 days). I basically went through things again focusing on my weakest areas and leaving the most annoying details until the end to maximise the amount of mindless detail I could remember. By this stage I was studying around 8-10 hours a day and really pushing hard. I kept telling myself it would soon be over and I could smell the freedom so well by this point it pushed me to work even harder. I kept studying until the day before the exam until around 9 pm ( I feel better if I know that I am utilising my time left to the fullest). I watched a few of my favourite stand up comedians' acts for an hour, prepared my stuff for the day after and went to bed at 10pm. This and the fact that my girlfriend was sleeping next to me (she had done her step 1 a couple of days before) calmed me down quite a bit and I was asleep in around 30 minutes to an hour (contrary to most experiences I've heard). Either way, even if you don't sleep at all I assure you that the adrenaline in your system during the exam day will keep you there for those lovely 7-8 hours so don't worry too much. Obviously expect quite a high level of anxiety during the week of the exam especially the day before and on the day. Understand that anxiety is good thing if present in manageable levels and do not let it bring you down. What worked for me is telling myself that I did my utmost best and that there wouldn't be any better time in my life for me to do the Step 1. This was it.

I woke up at 6am the day of the exam. I had a good breakfast and caught the tube to the prometric centre (took around 20 minutes). Make sure you arrive there at least 30 minutes before you start. With me I just took several ready made baguettes from a local tesco's, some fruit juice, water and a bottle of coke (a caffeine drink which I don't suggest you depend on but is there only for emergencies). I dressed with several layers so I could adjust by removing or adding clothing according to the temperature of the room. Signed in and put the stuff in my locker, was escorted to my station, deep breath in, cleared my mind, and focused only on giving my utmost effort for each and every question whilst keeping a cool head at all times. Then I began.

First block was on the hard side and time was a big problem for me. I only had one minute to check all of the questions which was rather useless since I had marked around 10. I made it a point to try and hurry up in the others. However this never happened. I only managed to check block 6 well with 5 minutes to spare. The rest where much like block 1. block 4 and 5 were the hardest for me , I even had to hurry through the last 5 questions in one of them. To be honest, I did take my time rather excessively on each question but I had to because the questions seemed longer and rather harder than any NBME's but not as hard as Uworld questions. Block 2, 3 and 7 were just as hard as 1, with 5 being the easiest. I took a 10 minute break after each block where I ate equal amounts of food in each block to avoid getting tired. I would go to the bathroom to wash my face and getting pumped up for the next block. Try to thing of each block as a new exam and forget about previous blocks no matter how badly you think you did in them. By the end I wasn't that tired however it is a LONG exam and make sure you understand the implications of it's length by simulating it once or twice under strict conditions (i did NBME 12 and 13 after each other to get a feel of a full length exam). The fatigue is another limiting factor in your score so do not take it lightly. I used all the break time to minimise fatigue as well.
All in all I felt it was harder than any NBME and came out quite disappointed, however the score was way better than I could ever have hoped for and this seems to be a very common occurrence, which i suspect is due to the NBME's harsh scoring curve. The centre is excellent, no noise disturbances, temperature was perfect, the chair was very comfortable and the staff is very professional and friendly.

So that sums up my experience with Step 1. Needless to say do not assume my method works for you, always tailor your strategy to compensate for you weaknesses. I do not consider myself to more than an average medical student so doing well is definitely possible. You just have to remember that this exam rewards hard work above everything else and intelligence and skill alone will get you nowhere. Do not compromise the important things in your life during study, always find time to do the things you love to unwind and relax as cutting these out might alter your performance anyway. I found time to train with my team and go out with friends/family/girlfriend up until the last first aid review.

All the best for your future careers and never stop believing in yourselves until the day of your result.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
The above post was thanked by:
amandasoto (01-26-2014), boat1235 (01-27-2014), darbi (01-25-2014), doctor2k14 (01-23-2014), Dr.Albert (01-23-2014), drshuvo1 (09-24-2014), dwijeshsheth (01-23-2014), gagz (01-24-2014), hemali_hpk (01-25-2014), Insomniac (01-23-2014), Jedi (01-23-2014), Mukti (01-26-2014), Neutrino (01-24-2014), Nijhum (01-23-2014), Oscaryasser (01-23-2014), pranavmerchant (01-23-2014), Splenda (01-23-2014), sukh25 (01-25-2014), truepassion20 (01-23-2014), vrush_1003 (01-24-2014), wa87el (01-23-2014)



  #2  
Old 01-23-2014
USMLE Forums Addict
 
Steps History: Step 1 Only
Posts: 129
Threads: 33
Thanked 19 Times in 16 Posts
Reputation: 29
Default

Thank you very much .. And Congrats ,, you deserved it
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
  #3  
Old 01-23-2014
USMLE Forums Scout
 
Steps History: Step 1 Only
Posts: 14
Threads: 4
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Reputation: 14
Default

Congrats for de great score....m too scared to take de exam date after I cancelled it once due to not so good scores in nbme......
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
  #4  
Old 01-23-2014
pranavmerchant's Avatar
USMLE Forums Guru
 
Steps History: 1 + CS
Posts: 350
Threads: 5
Thanked 237 Times in 123 Posts
Reputation: 247
Default

Very Well written experience... Thank you!
:-)
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
  #5  
Old 01-24-2014
USMLE Forums Newbie
 
Steps History: Step 1 Only
Posts: 4
Threads: 1
Thanked 21 Times in 1 Post
Reputation: 31
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Splenda View Post
Congrats for de great score....m too scared to take de exam date after I cancelled it once due to not so good scores in nbme......
What are your NBME scores and what score are you aiming for? Remember NMBE's tend to underestimate. Keep working hard and consistently and you will slowly bring your scores up, trust me! Try not to fall in the 'delaying trap'....constantly delaying will never push you to work to your best...sometimes you just have to accept the date of your exam and go for it.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
  #6  
Old 01-24-2014
USMLE Forums Scout
 
Steps History: Step 1 Only
Posts: 14
Threads: 4
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Reputation: 14
Default

My nbme11 score 1month ago was192 wich scared me nd I cancelled de date.nw after 1 month I got 214 in nbme13....still nt sure wether I shud take de date or not...I was aiming for atleast 240...
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
  #7  
Old 01-24-2014
USMLE Forums Scout
 
Steps History: Not yet
Posts: 24
Threads: 1
Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Reputation: 13
Default

Heya europeanimg! I literally came here to write my experience and you saved me all the effort. I wanted to write one especially for the UK grads ( I am to be one hopefully soon) as I felt that I didn't really have any guidance when I started it. I am in my final year in London and did it a day before you and got my scores yesterday too! pleasantly surprised I must say!
I was trying to balance out uni stuff/hospitals too and pulled sickies all the time (as much as I hated to!) and totally didn't give myself enough time - but actually its totally doable IF you put your mind to it.
Anyways well done on the amaze score and the incredible feedback, perhaps you want to work for the CS together? Drop me a message if you do.
Enjoy freedom in the meanwhile!!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
The above post was thanked by:
europeanimg (01-25-2014)
  #8  
Old 01-25-2014
USMLE Forums Newbie
 
Steps History: Step 1 Only
Posts: 4
Threads: 1
Thanked 21 Times in 1 Post
Reputation: 31
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Splenda View Post
My nbme11 score 1month ago was192 wich scared me nd I cancelled de date.nw after 1 month I got 214 in nbme13....still nt sure wether I shud take de date or not...I was aiming for atleast 240...
You seem to be improving so don't give up. Keep reviewing the knowledge you've acquired and keep on working questions from any bank. You'll find that your score keeps on improving with time. I would go for the exam once I start hitting 225-230 (just around ten more points for you)
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
  #9  
Old 01-25-2014
USMLE Forums Newbie
 
Steps History: Step 1 Only
Posts: 4
Threads: 1
Thanked 21 Times in 1 Post
Reputation: 31
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ir308 View Post
Heya europeanimg! I literally came here to write my experience and you saved me all the effort. I wanted to write one especially for the UK grads ( I am to be one hopefully soon) as I felt that I didn't really have any guidance when I started it. I am in my final year in London and did it a day before you and got my scores yesterday too! pleasantly surprised I must say!
I was trying to balance out uni stuff/hospitals too and pulled sickies all the time (as much as I hated to!) and totally didn't give myself enough time - but actually its totally doable IF you put your mind to it.
Anyways well done on the amaze score and the incredible feedback, perhaps you want to work for the CS together? Drop me a message if you do.
Enjoy freedom in the meanwhile!!
Hey ir308! Yes I wanted to give some advice to UK grads out there on how to tackle step 1 as there seems to be little information available on the net. I guess we are a bit of a minority... I won't be doing my CS for more than a year and a half now as I want to focus on my medical school exams in my final year as much as I can. When were you planning to take CS?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message



Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the USMLE Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:
Medical School
Choose "---" if you don't want to tell. AMG for US & Canadian medical schools. IMG for all other medical schools.
USMLE Steps History
What steps finished! Example: 1+CK+CS+3 = Passed Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 2 CS, and Step 3.

Choose "---" if you don't want to tell.

Favorite USMLE Books
What USMLE books you really think are useful. Leave blank if you don't want to tell.
Location
Where you live. Leave blank if you don't want to tell.

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
My Step 1 Experience: 269/99 maryjane85 USMLE Step 1 Forum 60 10-23-2016 11:24 AM
My step 2 ck experience usmle_2013 USMLE Step 2 CK Forum 15 02-17-2015 09:44 PM
got 267 step 1 my experience kim_12 USMLE Step 1 Forum 13 08-26-2013 07:36 AM
My Step 2 CS Experience Tempe USMLE Step 2 CS Forum 11 08-01-2013 10:35 AM
Step 1 Experience - 232/99 NGaleas USMLE Step 1 Forum 62 04-28-2012 05:27 PM

RSS Feed
Find Us on Facebook
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

USMLE® & other trade marks belong to their respective owners, read full disclaimer
USMLE Forums created under Creative Commons 3.0 License. (2009-2014)