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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everybody. I just got my STEP 1 score and it was 267. I've had a couple of friends ask me to write my full STEP 1 experience so I'm posting it here on this forum in the hopes that it will help some of you in your prep. I will not go through much detail here so if any of you has a specific question, then ask ahead, I would be more than glad to answer.

Prep material:

  • Kaplan review books: physiology, pharmacology, anatomy, biochemistry, behavioral and immunology.

  • Microbiology made ridiculously simple for microbiology: a great and fun book that made microbiology one of my favorite subjects. Did this book twice and annotated some facts directly to first aid. If you studied the microbiology section from FA + these annotations, I guarantee that you will answer 100% of microbiology question on the real exam.

  • BRS physiology: did it twice because I didn't like Kaplan physiology which I did only once and BRS is definitely my favorite of the two.

  • Lange biostatistics: great book to further your understanding of this tricky subject, full of questions and can be finished in one day. I would recommend it to anyone because it's definitely worth the read.

  • Goljan pathology: my favorite book of all and my bible in STEP 1 and I will definitely keep it with me for STEP 2. I did it one time completely but went back to it a lot throughout my prep so you could say I did it twice. I didn't do Goljan audio because I had already done the complete book but I hear they are great. I never heard of pathoma until recently but everyone says it's awesome so I can't say anything about it.

  • First aid: An absolute must but everyone knows that :)) I Did FA 2013 twice and my last revision of FA was from FA 2014 so basically, I did FA 3 times.

  • Question banks: only did UW which trained me well for the real exam. Don't know about any other qbank or qbook but UW is a must in my opinion.
My timetable:

17 months period and a total of 12.5 months of studying. And I would definitely recommend more than 9 months for anyone wishing to score above 260.

I would study from 4 to 10 hours a day but I didn't have a specific time and each day I would study for a different amount of time. Of course in my last 2 months I upped the ante and was averaging at least 10 hours/day.

1) First pass: 5.5 months. Studied the books listed above + Kaplan videos (pharmacology, physiology, immunology, biochemistry, anatomy and biostat). I didn't have FA or UW at this point so my first pass was only through the review books.
Then, I had to take a break from STEP 1 for 4 months due to personal reasons and didn't study at all during this period.
2) Second pass: 5 months. I reread some of the books (BRS physiology, Kaplan biochemistry, biostat, MRS, Kaplan anatomy but only the neuroanatomy section and I read abdominal and pelvic anatomy from HY gross anatomy which I never read in my first pass). I also added FA and UW this time.
Then, I took a 3 week vacation.
3) Third pass: my last 2 months. I did FA twice (once from FA 2013 and once from FA 2014), the questions I had marked in UW (400 qs total) + 5 NBMEs + Sample + some internet searches.

I'm an IMG and I was aiming for a 260+ score from the beginning of my prep. I know it took me a much longer time than most to finish my prep and that was mainly due to personal reasons that forced me to take extra-long breaks. I was a medium student during my time in med school and never scored above the average. I didn't have a strong background in basic sciences which is the main reason I decided to study from extensive review books because I knew doing FA only wasn't going to cut it for me. Also, medicine is taught in my native language in my country and not English so I had to become familiar with so many new words and concepts.

My NBME scores:
NBME 13 (8 weeks out): 256
NBME 12 (7 weeks out): 262
NBME 7 (4 weeks out): 258
NBME 11 (3 weeks out): 258
NBME 15 (1 week out): 261

2014 STEP 1 Sample (3 days out): 4/138 = 97%

Real exam: 267

The best thing I did during my prep is UNDERSTAND and not memorize. It's not about how much material you study, it's about how you use the things you studied to solve the questions on the exam. A lot of the questions on the STEP 1 exam are not straightforward and you have to think about them a lot before you answer. Some questions can only be solved through exclusion of the remaining choices until it comes down to one probable answer. Every time I read something that I didn't understand fully, I would use UpToDate, emedicine, and this forum and keep reading until I completely understand it. I believe my obsession with understanding everything and just memorize is what made me exceed 260.

The best way to use UW in my opinion is not just to know the correct answer of the q but to know why the wrong answers are wrong. I would go through every choice and think about why it couldn't be a correct answer. I never cared about the massive amount of new information within UW explanations but only cared about how to apply the things I already learned from FA and review books to solve UW qs.

NBMEs in my opinion are a must. They are as close to the real exam as it gets. Some people even say that they got a couple of NBME qs on their exam. They also correlate closely with the real score. Now I have to say this wasn't the case for me as my highest was NBME was 262, 5 points lower than the real deal but it was still pretty close and predictive. The best thing NBMEs can do to you is to help u figure out your weak areas, and if you did them early enough (2 months out is a perfect time to start), you will still have enough time to do something about it and cover your weak areas. I would recommend doing all of the NBMEs but if time is scarce, then at least the most recent 2 (currently 15 and 16).

DAY BEFORE THE TEST: I suggest u wake up very early the day before the exam, do some revision for biostat and the review section in FA, try to relax and go for a peaceful walk, have a lot of coffee and a nice big meal but don't take any naps so you'll be exhausted at 9 or 10 pm and then go to sleep and try not to think about the exam. This is exactly what I did and I slept like a baby and woke up at 6 am after 8 good hours of sleep, had my coffee and then walked to the exam center

TEST DAY: I'm usually the freaking out type but I tried to be very calm and I don't know how I did it but it was very helpful. You should expect some nervousness in the first block especially the first couple of qs but don't dwell on it and move on to the next question. If u didn't know the answer just pick one and move on and don't panic it will become much easier afterwards. Expect to get many tough question but don't worry they won't affect your score. Just keep your mind relaxed and try to keep focused and don't obsess about any hard qs. Try to take a 5 min break after every block it will be very relaxing (especially you need your cigarette like I do :notsure:) but don't try to read or think about anything regarding STEP 1 during your breaks.

I hope I wrote a comprehensible experience but you have to excuse me for my writing skills as English isn't my first language. If you have any specific qs regarding any subject, book, NBME form or anything I will be here to answer.

I wish the best of luck to all of you who are going through their STEP 1 prep. STEP 1 is a tough exam but nothing that a focused mind can't conquer.
 

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Which editon of Goljan Rapid Review book did you use? is it the 3rd or the fourth edition of the book? did you ever attemot to memorize the text? What was your approach to the text in general? some say it may help in clinical rotations, what is your input on that?
 

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could you please provide the link for lange biostat from amazon...
i found a lange biostat book but that is 400 pages?!! i don't think it is the one that you referring to....
thanx
 

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congrats!

congratulations again! you rocked it. and thanks for the detailed post! :D

do you think doing more than one question banks will help?
 

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congratulation,
I would like to ask you, how many times you did UW, and Did you recommended to take self assessment test of UW.

Wish you all the best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Which editon of Goljan Rapid Review book did you use? is it the 3rd or the fourth edition of the book? did you ever attemot to memorize the text? What was your approach to the text in general? some say it may help in clinical rotations, what is your input on that?
I used the third edition in my prep. But I saw the 4th with one of my friends so I took a peak and it's more gorgeous and has lots of new stuff. As you can see, I love this book and I will buy the 4th edition when I begin my STEP 2 prep.
And yeah there was definitely massive amounts of things to memorize so I tried to memorize as much as I could but that was impossible. But I can say that I went to my exam knowing 80% of it. Goljan is great in that it explains everything and I mean every symptom of every disease is explained. It will make you a master of pathology and physiology.
My approach was to read the chapter quickly to see what it was all about. Then read again carefully and highlighting the things I didn't understand for later revision. This was during my first pass. But later, when I was doing FA and UW, I used to read something in FA or UW then I immediately go back to Goljan to read about it fully.
Goljan is full of stuff from STEP 2 and clinical medicine. Now I wouldn't study it for my rotations of course :) but if you do it for STEP 1 then your gonna have an advantage in you rotations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
could you please provide the link for lange biostat from amazon...
i found a lange biostat book but that is 400 pages?!! i don't think it is the one that you referring to....
thanx
I'm sorry I didn't clarify this earlier. This is the actual name of the book "Appleton and Lange's Review of Epidemiology and Biostatistics for the USMLE" but I used to call it Lange biostat only. And here's a link
http://bookzz.org/book/919733/764518
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
congratulations again! you rocked it. and thanks for the detailed post! :D

do you think doing more than one question banks will help?
I know it will. But like I said I only did UW. Now doing more that that will benefit you of course. The most important thing about doing more qs is that they will train u for the real exam. You'll be able to solve the qs faster and will have a lot of spare time left. They will help u consolidate the harder facts by putting them in the form of a question but that's just about it. Don't expect to get new ideas from other qbanks. The most important ideas and concepts are already covered in FA and UW and that was enough for me.
I though about doing another qbank a lot but I had already spent so much time in my prep that I didn't want to add another month or so to it. I don't regret that one bit but then again the decision is up to u since they are definitely beneficial.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
congratulation,
I would like to ask you, how many times you did UW, and Did you recommended to take self assessment test of UW.

Wish you all the best.
I did UW one time. I have to mention that I did it offline and subject-wise. I did however spend alot of time on my first and only time. It would take me a day to get through 30-40 qs which is a lot of time but I honestly never had to go back to UW again. Everything that I wanted from UW, I got in the first time.
I did however mark 400 qs that I went back and did completely in the last 2 months before the exam.

Regarding UWSA, I've heard of them and that they were more predicative than NBMEs and what not but I have absolutely no idea since I had never actually done them. I think NBMEs are by far the most important but if u have enough time then why not . I'm sure doing a simulated test is beneficial.
 

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Thank you very much for your answer.
Could you explain which edition you have for MMRS book for Microbiology.

Appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you very much for your answer.
Could you explain which edition you have for MMRS book for Microbiology.

Appreciated.
It was either the 4th or 5th edition but definitely not the 6th. I'm sorry i cant remember which but I gave my book to a friend along time ago :)
 

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I did UW one time. I have to mention that I did it offline and subject-wise. I did however spend alot of time on my first and only time. It would take me a day to get through 30-40 qs which is a lot of time but I honestly never had to go back to UW again. Everything that I wanted from UW, I got in the first time.
I did however mark 400 qs that I went back and did completely in the last 2 months before the exam.

Regarding UWSA, I've heard of them and that they were more predicative than NBMEs and what not but I have absolutely no idea since I had never actually done them. I think NBMEs are by far the most important but if u have enough time then why not . I'm sure doing a simulated test is beneficial.
many congratulations on such a huge achievement and great score !

Thanks alot for your detailed exp , it really helps

Im glad to read that you used offline too ..... ive started with offline uw along with FA
Now i know alot of people recommend doing the online one
but i thought to complete once offline system wise and then purchase online

I know offline has its drawbacks like time management n all .... but apart from that ... what do u think about doing offline one ??

i guess the only one to download out there is 2007 version, im aware of uw updating question pool every year

which offline version you used ????

Im also thinking of doing 1 round of Usmle Rx before purchasing uw
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
many congratulations on such a huge achievement and great score !

Thanks alot for your detailed exp , it really helps

Im glad to read that you used offline too ..... ive started with offline uw along with FA
Now i know alot of people recommend doing the online one
but i thought to complete once offline system wise and then purchase online

I know offline has its drawbacks like time management n all .... but apart from that ... what do u think about doing offline one ??

i guess the only one to download out there is 2007 version, im aware of uw updating question pool every year

which offline version you used ????

Im also thinking of doing 1 round of Usmle Rx before purchasing uw
First of all, I wish I was able to purchase the online version but in my country here I didn't have a stable internet connection nor a method to purchase anything online (I went to hell and back trying to pay my exam fee :( )so I had to do with the offline version. You can find the 2012 version on the torrent site thepiratebay.
And don't worry about time management. I used to time myself when doing uw question blocks even if it's offline and I made sure to control my time to have at least 5 mins to spare. This really did pay off since I started timing myself very early in my prep that I had at least 10 mins to spare on every block in my real exam.
Like I mentioned earlier I didn't do any qbank other than UW so I can't say anything about Rx but If u have enough time then why not.
 

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hi,
thanks for sharing your experience.

can you please tell us more about anatomy questions? how were they? i have only studied kaplan notes for anatomy, is it enough? what else should i do for anatomy?:eek::eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
hi,
thanks for sharing your experience.

can you please tell us more about anatomy questions? how were they? i have only studied kaplan notes for anatomy, is it enough? what else should i do for anatomy?:eek::eek:
Anatomy qs were numerous on my exam. I remember getting something around 40 qs. Now to break it down for you, 50% of these were easy and didn't require a lot of thinking. 25% were relatively hard but doable if you took ur time and understood the q. Now these 75% could be answered from FA, UW and kaplan anatomy. The other 25% were either extremely hard or just something that I have never heard of in my prep. It took all I have in the exam to reason through each of these hard qs and exclude as much choices as I possibly could with absolute certainty. I would usually have 2-3 choices left and would choose the one I was most familiar with and move on.
I guess the only logical thing to do to be more adjusted to these kind of qs is to do more anatomy qs from NBMEs and question banks. I hesitate to say do HY gross anatomy because I have no idea if the questions I got could be answered from it since I only did the abdomen and pelvis sections.
Your questions is by far the hardest question to give a complete answer to :( I honestly don't know how I performed in anatomy. My score report tells me that anatomy was in fact my weakest area on the exam but I still managed to get it in the higher performance level way above the borderline which made me happy since anatomy was my most feared subject.
Lastly not all people will get the same focus on anatomy like I got. So don't think about this too much and don't waste ur time reading extra long books cz in the end missing 3-4 qs will not affect ur score drastically.
I hope I answered ur question like u wanted :)
 

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Congratulations on your score. Truly amazing. Can u also advice about what to read for ethics. Most people find it difficult
And also the questions like in nbme 15 and 16 where the ask the most likely factor causing the disease among the risk factors
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Congratulations on your score. Truly amazing. Can u also advice about what to read for ethics. Most people find it difficult
And also the questions like in nbme 15 and 16 where the ask the most likely factor causing the disease among the risk factors
Ethics is one tricky subject. There's no best source for it like other subjects. However, in my exam, I only had 5-6 qs and only one of them was actually hard and confusing. My ethics prep consisted of FA, UW, ethics sections in kaplan behavioral sciences book, and whatever ethics q I would find in NBMEs and on this forum :) and I think these are enough. Doing as much ethics qs is by far the best advice I can give u. Not because you'll get similar cases on the real exam (in fact, it's highly unlikely that u do) but because they'll help u develop a sense of understanding for the subject and will give the ability to reason through most ethics question without much trouble.
If u want the next best source that I know of is the ethics book by Dr. Conrad Fischer. It has 100 qs and I believe they'll take only 2 days to do. I didn't do it myself but I discussed some of the qs with a friend of mine who was doing it for her prep and these case were great. If u could do all those then I think you'll master ethics and won't have any trouble with it on the real exam. This is book also has like 100 pages of chapters and what not but the qs are more than enough in mu opinion.

Regarding the risk factors qs, I didn't do NBME 16 but I think I remember one or two of them on other NBMEs that I did. I don't know how to prepare for these because there are so many diseases and risk factors. But I think Goljan was great in this area. I'm not saying do Goljan specifically for this but if you've already done it, then it's safe to say that you'll have an easy time with these qs. If not, then the next logical think is so spend some extra time searching for the most important risk factor for the diseases that are found in FA that FA has listed their risk factors but did not specify which factor is the most important one. I think this applies mostly to cancers and some very famous diseases such as osteoporosis and sarcoidosis etc.
Hope that helps.
 
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