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This is, in short, my little journey with USMLE step 1. First of all, let me tell you about myself a bit briefly, I was an average student in the College of Medicine, University of Baghdad. I was not one of those studious people, however, I was not one of those really at the bottom.

My decision to come to USA was rather a condition, not a decision. When I first started preparing for Step 1, my ultimate goal was 90-plus. But gradually, along the preparation process, my limit was going up, till the point where less than a 99 would have been considered a failure for me.

Books,
Kaplan books only, I did not see anything apart from them, in my opinion, they are more than what is needed for the test, but that is still OK, as the test has no limits and you will always need extra. I did not see the 1st Aid and nothing else at all.

First-time study( normally 3.5 - 6.5 months ),
Preferred order ( Physiology, Biochemistry, Anatomy, Behavioral, Immunology & Microbiology, Pharmacology, and Finally Pathology).
Way of Study ( I used to watch a Kaplan video in the evening, starting from 7, for 3 to 4 hours, depending on how patient you are. Then I studied what I watched next morning till the evening, then another video, then again....

Revision ( 3-4 Months ),
Here, a lot of possible options, you could start doing questions ( I started with Kaplan's Qbank), one block ( timed and mixed ) early in the morning, then after the block I studied the books again, in the same order mentioned above, then in the evening, I revised the block I already solved, at the beginning, each block took me 2 days to revise, until I revised 4 books, then I was going a block each day.
Some other option is that you revise the books only, in 6 weeks then start doing Qs only till the test.

Questions, I started with Kaplan's Q bank, then I shifted to USMLEworld, I did 90% of the Qbank and only 28% of the USMLEworld. But finishing both of them all is better.

Score, I got a 99 (242), as I said before, I did not believe in myself scoring it at the beginning, however, my expectations were going higher up over the time.

Recommendations,

  1. 1st study is the most important, spend as much time as possible and try to cover each book very well before you move to the another, remember, by the time of revision, you are too exhausted to memorize something new. So why not doing it at the beginning?
  2. Be consistent, try to avoid long time interruptions.
  3. I am a bit slow, so the above times are about me, some can do it way shorter, but longer, I do not think it is healthy, unless there are a lot of stuff in your life to deal with.
  4. As the test is closing in, start preparing physically for it, do a simulated test (7-block) at least once, at least 5 days before the test.
  5. If you are taking an NBME, which I prefer, take one or two or both, but not the others, as those two give the most accurate estimate.
  6. You can do it, and it is a long process, with many ups and downs, just believe in yourself.

All the best in following your dreams...
 

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