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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Exam on May 28th, 2010 Result on June 14th, 2010
Result Pass Attempt No 3
2 Digit Score 80

3 Digit Score 197

Test Banks Used:
USMLEworld Score --- 66% [71st percentile] (100% completed)
USMLEworld Self-Assessment test 1 --- 460/ 209 predicted usmle score
USMLEworld Self-Assessment test 2 --- 460/ 209 predicted usmle score
NBME 4 --- 380 / 196 predicted (1.5 months before exam)
NBME 6 --- 420 / 206 predicted (7 days before exam)
Kaplan Q bank --- Did it, can't seem to find score (I think it was around 65%)
USMLErx --- 72% / [234 +/- 20points for a prediction] (100% completed)

WikitestPrep --- 78% [predicted 226 on usmle] (100% completed)
Neuroscience Questions in Electronic Book (see material used)
Rapid Review Pharmacology (didn't keep score, old q bank but kept me sharp on pharm mech)

Other USMLE step 1 Exam Scores:

1st Write --- 55 / 131
2nd Write --- 58 / 139
3rd Write --- The charm!!

Take a deep breath; I had to with those 2 scores!

1st write- mom had heart attack and quintuplet bypass. Long recovery.
2nd write- Did only Kaplan live lecture and qbook.
3rd write- Took P.A.S.S. Program live lecture then had to take 3.5 years off to help with family farm and dads business while he recovered from squamous cell carcinoma of the right lower lobe and then the chemo, radiation and surgery. Then got the P.A.S.S. videos.

Found out about illnesses after I signed up to take exam. Extended the exams for the maximum and decided to take exams instead of throwing away the money.

Happy to report mom and dad, alive and well!


· Kaplan Videos and books (really early on in study)
· P.A.S.S. Videos and Took His Live Lecture
· First Aid
· 3 qbanks: Kaplans, USMLEworld, USMLErx
· 1 qbook: First Aid Q&A for the USMLE Step 1
· P.A.S.S. Book: Dissecting the USMLE Steps 1, 2 and 3 ; Need videos to follow book or else you will be lost.
· Physiology Board Review Series (my life saver)
· Lots of Note pads
· Made my own flashcards from the First Aid book
· Flash Card Manager from Vandant Software: Made my own electronic flashcards
· Lange: USMLE Road Map- Neuroscience
· Lippincott Biochemistry (gave me great background info). Not needed if you are running behind on your studies, I did it for peace of mind.

1st exam- was a write off. I wasn't prepared as you can tell. I had a lot of things going on and didn't want to throw away the money. I figured I could chance it since I did well in med school. I was wrong!!!

2nd exam- was tough to take. I did the Kaplan live lecture and then the videos. Spent a lot of money going to those classes. Hardly did any questions, I spent a lot of time memorizing everything. Thought I was ready, and so sure I passed that I did 2 clinical rotations. A++ in the clinical rotations but not very good on the usmle exam.

3rd exam- my school told me, this is it, last one, you aren't getting another chance. I had to beg and plead with them just to sign me up 1 last time.

Studying for the 3rd exam:
Before contacting the school to take my exam for a 3rd time, I wanted to get off to a good start of studying. So I started off by taking the P.A.S.S. program live lectures. After I came back my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. 3.5 years later, he's back to a clean bill of health (cross the fingers). The only problem is that 3.5 years later you don't remember what you learned.
I got the P.A.S.S. program video lectures and started watching them over and over again. I used my P.A.S.S. book a lot and did what Dr. Francis said, learn concepts, DON'T memorize. I remember him also saying that you should be doing 50 questions a day to start and on weekends do 100 questions and do less studying on weekends. I followed that rule to a "T".
While I was doing P.A.S.S. I did the Kaplan Qbank first (6 months out from my target date). Pass videos are sectioned off per subject. So I started doing Biochem first. During this time I only did Kaplan questions in biochem. I would do a slot of 10 questions. After each slot, I would go back and review the questions that I got wrong. Not just read, but used the note pad I had and also the first aid book. I looked at the question I got wrong, tried to determine what "clue" word I missed and what concept were they trying to explain. I then wrote down the wrong answers as well as the right answer. I had a pad that was only used for Biochem and got a new pad for every other subject. At the end of the night, I would review first aid and write notes into my First aid from my past day and do flashcards. Then had 1 hour of TV to unwind my mind. This continued for each subject.
After my first round of Kaplan questions, I then spent a week, going over my notes I made. For me doing repetition is the key. Constantly reviewing is the only way to study and understanding the concepts. By the time the Kaplan questions were done, I've already reviewed those notes 3 or 4 times. I brought them everywhere. After reviewing the notes I retook the Kaplan questions again that I got wrong. I then redid my notes again to visit the question that I got wrong for a second time. By the third time through, I completed the Kaplan questions. Time to move on to USMLEworld.

For me, using fewer books is more. It doesn't help having 4 books of biochem, or 3 books of pharmacology. Every book basically says the same thing, they just want you to think they say it better, they don't. Use first aid as a guide. First aid is incomplete, so you should be making notes in it. Use whatever books you think are the best and don't waver from them after completing the Kaplan questions, I noticed my physiology was terrible. I always found that subject the hardest. So I asked around and picked Board Review series- Physiology 4th edition as my supplement. I am SO glad I did, it saved me on my boards. In fact, it has the charts with more detail than Kaplan did in physiology. So I opened up excel and made the charts that BRS had. I left them blank and made multiple copies and made 1 key. From that day forward I did a blank chart every 2 or 3 days. I understood the PTH, CA and Phosphate fine, but BRS also put in 1-25oh, bone what was in urine and the camp arrows. My weakest subject was becoming my strongest by doing this.

I have my 14 note pads with each subjects notes and my first aid starting to get filled in nicely. I start increasing my per day questions to 70 - 100. I started the USMLEworld question bank and I felt nervous. The first 300 questions I did were tough, I think just from getting used to 1 question bank and then seeing new questions really throws a person. But, this is good. After about the 700th question, it hit me, just like Dr. Francis said it would! They are asking me the exact same stuff here as they did in Kaplan; the only problem is they are asking me in a different way! From my exam 2, I realized where I went wrong. I memorized things and I probably knew it, BUT if they change a word on me, then I would think they are asking me something totally different. So, Dr. Francis was right, you had to work through your bad habits and start training your mind to think another way. They can change the language but the concept never changes. A clot in the brain is a stroke; a clot in the heart is a heart attack. After that, I started looking at questions differently. Instead of getting 6 out of 10 on my set, I'd get 7 or 8 out of 10. May not sound like much, but it does add up.
I did the exact same thing on the USMLEworld questions as I did with the the Kaplan questions. I took those same note pads that I did notes in and I wrote more info that USMLEworld taught me, while adding things to my first aid. This time, I didn't retake the questions I got wrong; I left them there for future use.
Ok, so a couple months away from my set goal of taking the exam, start USMLErx.
I did the same method; I reviewed my note pads and first aid and then dove into the usmlerx questions. Out of all the qbanks, this one was the most time consuming. It had over 3000+ questions. These questions helped me a lot, not only did they help in my recalls and I thought were good quality questions but they showed me where in the first aid book the answer was. I had reviewed first aid probably 7 times now and read the first aid but was becoming oblivious to some of the things I read. USMLErx brought that to my attention quickly.
USMLErx was the perfect choice for the last qbank I was going to do. I had about 3 weeks left before my exam and I was done them. All notes completed in my pad and in first aid.
For the next 3 weeks, all I did was my anatomy note pad and my pictures I printed off from the neuroscience electronic book, my charts, flashcards and first aid. I then did 2 hours of questions a night from the questions I got wrong in USMLEworld and USMLErx, only this time I did them from all subjects in 30 question blocks.
Last week left before my exam. I did questions 5 hours out of the day and then switch and do my final flashcards review of both electronic and physical ones (pharmacology). Through my time studying I constantly did they flashcards, so it was a breeze to get through the thousand I made.
Last day before the exam, I packed up all my stuff in the morning. Put it all away in a closest and books on the book shelf. I drove 5 hours to the nearest city that had a Testing center. I live in Saskatchewan Canada. Once I got into the hotel, I ordered a pizza and watched a movie. I rested that last day.
I don't know if it was the nerves or what, but that night was peaceful. If I felt myself getting nervous I just thought, you studied as hard as you could, you were brutally honest with yourself and everything points to you passing your exam. Nothing else you can do and you won't learn a thing that last night so don't even think about the exam or studying.

: Woke up at 7:30 AM (9am start time). Showered, had a banana. Stopped by the store and got myself some apple juice, apples, 2 chocolate bars and some coke. Got to the exam center and they greeted me with a smile. Today I was the only one writing a test in the morning. They made me read through the rules and regulations. They then took my ID and compared it with my head. They did the clothes search all the while telling me if I have to take clothes off during the exam to get up and go by the door and someone would be there to take it for me. After my search came up clean they made me stand in front of a camera and they took my picture. Today they said the exam didn't need my finger prints, I guess it usually asks for it. They then gave me a locker and key. They then took out 2 dry erase boards and markers and handed them over to me. On the erase board I had to put the CIN number. After I wrote the cin number down, they let me to my chair. PANIC TIME!
To combat the nerves, I just sat there took 2 deep breaths and grabbed my erase board and just started writing. I put the Microbiology Gram+ and Gram- logarithms down. I then drew out the whole Biochem pathways. AH, calmed me down enough to type in the CIN number.
EXAM STARTED: The first 25 questions were tough. I thought to myself, "I'm screwed". My nerves were shot; it felt like my mind went blank. I knew I had to calm myself down to think these questions out and to do a process of elimination. I kept thinking, "just another qbank to do, they are asking the same stuff you know, just in a different way". I went through question 26-46 getting more confidence. I then went back to the first question and did my process of elimination. I may not know the answer to the question, but I do know enough to eliminate at least 2 possibly 3 answers, that means there's only 1 answer left. Pick and move on.
After the first block was done, I left 15 questions marked that I wasn't sure on. But I had to throw that block away and continue on. Don't thinking about it, it's over. I took 2 Motrin and some pop. Headaches will be coming.
As block 2 and then block 3, ect… rolled along; I had been only putting Marks on 5-10 questions. I wasn't sure on the questions, they were tough.
I ended up with 2 audio questions and lots of graphs. The graphs had to be used to figure out math equations, it wasn't easy. Pictures just have a circle around something and said what way are the arrows going?
As the blocks went on, as I said earlier, I felt more comfortable. At the start I had 15-20 marked, by the end of the exam I had 5 marked. Then the exam was over
EXAM OVER: Came out feeling ok. The old saying goes "if you walk out of the exam feeling like you did well, you probably failed". I knew that all too well the last exam I did. So I just hoped that things worked out. Then I found out on this board that the exam was going to be delayed by 2 months. NOT A GOOD FEELING.

TEST SCORES CAME: 6:20am, new e-mail shows up in my inbox. I'm freaking out. I go out and shoot 18 holes of golf (freaking out I ended up shooting a 100). Came back home around 12pm. Tried to eat dinner but couldn't bring myself to eat. I finally got mad and said screw it, if I fail, I can say I tried and that's better than a lot of people can say.
I go to the inbox, hit the ecfmg link. It asks me to log in. Page loads up, hit the PDF file to see your results. Hit it, fail to load. Did that 3 times, not going well. Feel myself getting light headed. Finally the page loads up. I'm just about blacking out when I see PASS. The tears rolled down my face, I had to shower and cried like a baby for 10 minutes (LOL).
I think it hit me all at once, shock, disbelief; it's finally over, my life moving forward and not on hold because of this test. The stress just left and it hasn't been back yet. I'm looking forward to getting my books and doing questions and getting a better grade on step 2. Most important, I learned persistence and hard work pays off. For all the ups and downs that I went through, I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm much closer to my parents because of what they went through, it gave me more time with them then I ever dreamed possible. Looking back, I wouldn't trade it in for anything. The trials and heartache made me a better person and will make me a better doctor because I know I can't take short cuts. Because I didn't memorize the material, I was forced to understand it (Thank you Dr. Francis) means I can better teach my patients on the diseases that affect them.

My Suggestions: Don't let anyone tell you, "You can't do this". If I can do it, you can too. I seriously mean that. I took what my high school science teacher told me and proved it. He said "you don't have to be smart to be a doctor; you just have to be persistent."
Study smart, not hard. There will be days when you don't want to look at a book. Look at them, force yourself to do it. You have to be 100% committed to get through this. Medicine is repetition and understanding. Don't just look at a book and read it. Ask yourself, "what is the mechanism behind this", "how does this tie in with other things I've been studying". You have to look at the bigger picture and break it down, look at patterns...
Any restrictive lung disease is all the same:
Small stiff lungs (Decrease VC)
Trouble breathing in= FEV1/FVC: >0.8
ABG: decrease p02= increase RR, decrease pCO2, increase pH
CXR- ground glass, interstitial infiltrate
Treat- give pressure support, increase o2, increase RR and increase inspiratory time.

Instead of learning about all Restrictive lung diseases, just know the above and you can figure out anything about Restrictive lung diseases. Same goes for Obstructive lung disease.

Do as many qbanks as you can. Paid or Free, they will all help. Anything that gives you a different look at questions is awesome. By the time it was all said and done, I ended up doing over ten thousand questions.

Constantly look at pharm questions as soon as you start to study for usmle

Do NBMEs 4 and 6. But do them closer to your exam date to get a better feel. Like Dr. Francis tells his live lectures, you have to do at least 5000 questions before you attempt a NBME. I truly believe this.

If you failed multiple times, don't give up. I've been there and did it, you can to. If you believe in yourself then you can do it.

Have a partner you can phone to bounce questions off of. Talk about things to that partner. Me and another guy I knew did that and we both ended up passing. He helped me BIG with Hepatitis and the way he goes about looking at them. I never would have seen how easy it is without his help.

Most important. Go into that USMLE Step 1 and kick its ass. You belong in that chair and there is nothing that test is going to throw at you that you can't handle. Believe!!

I was going to show you the back of my exam, most people who haven't written the exam like to see that stuff, but unsure if I will due to the USMLE rules, not sure if its allowed.

P.S. I know those 2 exams could come back and limit my residency possibilities, but at this point, I could careless. I did it and will continue to prove people wrong!


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316 Posts
dear peewee!!! thank you for such a nyce and thorough detailed version of your experience... u are a great fighter and hard worker!!! ur uworld scores and uwsa and rx all scores are gr8!!! may be u get nervous.... neways thanks and best of luck for ur future endeavours:happy:

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365 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
congrats on being done... was wondering was it absolutely necessary to be able to recognize the audio/pictures to get the question right or could you get the question right just from the written part of the question
It helped to know what you were looking at. but it wasn't hard pictures, you know what a granuloma looks like, you shouldn't have a problem with that picture. But those were the types of questions I marked, the pcitures. There was no description, you had to tell the physio of the picture, it wasn't easy.

The audio, 1 good website could help you on those. These website would help

are the websites I used to listen. In the end it didn't help me becuase answers weren't about the heart some about neck. Others I know who took the exam, the sounds really helped them.

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365 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
dear peewee!!! thank you for such a nyce and thorough detailed version of your experience... u are a great fighter and hard worker!!! ur uworld scores and uwsa and rx all scores are gr8!!! may be u get nervous.... neways thanks and best of luck for ur future endeavours:happy:
Oh DoctorF, I do get nervous, really nervous. Try and tell that to your school and they just laugh at you and think its an excuse. It was a big problem for me. Just have to fight through it and learn to keep it under control.

You would think it wouldn't be an issue after the umpteenth time taking exams all through univeristy and med school, but it still is for me anyways.

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161 Posts

reading your journey has filled me with so much hope and determination..u are amazing to go on even after so many failures and setbacks in does not matter what ever score u get but u did it and held on right until the end and i think this makes u a better doctor and a better person..thank u for sharing this on forum..:)
u are my inspiration from now on....

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365 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you for sharing your story.

Just one question.

How many times did you do UW? and the scores you mentioned is it your first attempt in UW or second or third?

Thank you
I didn't do any qbank questions the first 2 times I took the exam. This really hurt me. At that time, nobody told me them and I didn't think to look on the internet. I knew Kaplan has questions but I thought I could go cheap. My thinking back then was, if I memorize why do I need questions. Stupid way of thinking.

so those questions would have been the 1st time through.

I kept very detailed scores because I wanted to find my weakness and fix it. That is why I ended up buying the BRS physiology book, my scores sucked in those qbanks, but in my real exam I was over the boarderline and half way up the higher performance scale.

The usmleworld tests 1 and 2 were only taken once.

I took the nbme's once. my school wanted them and was told to get over a 400. I took the extended version cause I wanted to see where I went wrong on those questions as well.

I can't say if there was some q's from nbme 6 on my exam, but I'm really glad I bought the extended version and studied the questions I got wrong. If you know what I mean.

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365 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
reading your journey has filled me with so much hope and determination..u are amazing to go on even after so many failures and setbacks in does not matter what ever score u get but u did it and held on right until the end and i think this makes u a better doctor and a better person..thank u for sharing this on forum..:)
u are my inspiration from now on....
Thansk for your word of kindness. I'm just trying to pay it forward, there has been a lot of guys ahead of me that I fed off of. Everyone has a story and I could relate. Dr. Francis Pass lecture really brought it all together for me. Kaplan might have most things needed, but the Pass connects the dots and thats what I needed.

If you can do both, do both. Kaplan first and then pass to glue it together.

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wow.. truly inspiring..

peewee, u really went through loads of emotional hurdles throughout ur step 1 journey. it's quite amazing that u actually passed. i know some people who are forced to pick a different career all together just to make ends meet n to move on. but u kept trying. :)... very strong.

I sincerely hope ur step 2ck journey will be easier.

good luck. hang in there.

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365 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
peewee, u really went through loads of emotional hurdles throughout ur step 1 journey. it's quite amazing that u actually passed. i know some people who are forced to pick a different career all together just to make ends meet n to move on. but u kept trying. :)... very strong.

I sincerely hope ur step 2ck journey will be easier.

good luck. hang in there.
Thanks Seetal, you and me both hope 2ck is easier. It should be, I learned a lot on how to study for a standardized exam.
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