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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So guys this will happily be my last thread in Step 1 forum. I enjoyed ths forum and it was very useful to me so I am writing abt my step 1 experience.

I am an IMG and had already cleared CK before step 1. My aim was to hit the 260 mark this time and thank god I did.

Sources: 1) the thing about First Aid IMO is that you have to start looking at it early in your studies. (This is actually mentioned in FA itself).Don't try to memorize everything in FA bec u can't, but the earlier u start looking at it the easier it will be for u to adapt to it .

2) I think it's vital for IMGs to start with Kaplan Lecture notes and videos. My personal opinion is that the videos are also very useful (inlcluding the neuroanatomy videos). I actually found them very useful and helped me a lot in my preparation. I'd watch the videos only once and write down the extras on the book. I watched the videos then read the same chapter/topic.

3) I did all the kaplan lecture notes except for Patho, for which I used Pathoma book and videos. I think this has become a must these days. Pathoma will make u master pathology concepts plus save a lot of time so u can concentrate on other subjects so I really don't think anyone will advise you to go for Goljan. I have to say Goljan looks like a very good text book but I believe that my step 1 experience would have been a nightmare if it was my main Patho book. ( still had it as a reference... went back for it a couple of times and added some nice info but not that much+ Pathoma actually summarizes many points from Goljan).. Stay away from BRS patho.. not worth it . Bought it and stopped looking at it after 7 days.

4) In physio: in addition to Kaplan I highly recommend BRS physio. I used it but not in all chapters.. I think it complements Kaplan ( which is a good book) + FA and UW and u r ready to go.

5) kaplan books: I read them cover to cover. Also Pathoma. BRS I didn't read it cover to cover but I think GIT is especially perfect in it and I used to look at it quickly after I have finished each topic from Kaplan.

6) I had some other books on the side that I used as references but I have to say I didn't use them that much and none of them is a must read imo
I liked BRS biology and histology. U can go back to it if some points from Kaplan notes need clarification.

So to conclude this section, my main sources were KLN, Pathoma and BRS physio+ FA ( goes without saying).

Method of studying: I used this method in my preparation for step 2 CK and was equally successful. So I can say it's tried and tested. Pros: tried and proven. U will use two Q banks and it is now proven by studies that USMLE scores increase proportionally with the number of Questions u practice. It is very common in people with high scores to have done 5000+ questions (I saw this in a trusted web site but cannot recall the name ). You will also be able to predict your performance in the exam.
Cons: time consuming and needs a lot of patience.

I gave 4 weeks max to each book ( book with videos) first.
After that I repeated studying each book. This second round will take less time from u and u will feel u r making progress. The difference is that once I finish a subject I answer the sample tests from KLN Qbook.

Third round: This time I will read each book quickly but then answer questions of that subject from Kaplan Qbank ( SO this is KLN QBank subject wise and timed).

Obviously each round of reading a book includes FA as well and each time u read a subject u will see that u r steering away from KLN books and actually concentrating on FA.

NB: I think itz imp. to take notes from any Q Bank. whether u want to annotate on FA or use a separate notebook for each subject it's up to you. I used the latter because I add a lot of things from the Q banks. Reviewing what I learned from the Q bank is the most imp part of my studying and I'd usually review a Q bank in 4 weeks.

After reviewing Kaplan QB, I started UW online Random and timed. If u use the first 3 steps u will be equipped to get higher scores in UW. I agree that UW is a learning tool but I think it's ability to predict your performance is underrated. It's all about statistics. If u use UW random and timed with a very strong background( by doing KLN QB) then I believe u can predict (or at least have an idea abt ur performance in the real deal bec in this way u will have 51 UW blocks. If for instance u get an average of 85% in UW ( random + timed + first time) I think u can safely say that this maybe ur average in the nbmes and the real deal.
I finished UW in 5 weeks and then took another 4 weeks to review the notes I have taken from UW. So that's 9 weeks in total in UW.

After reviewing UW ( with FA), it's now time for Self-Assessments:
1) UWSA: UWSA 1 262
UWSA 2 265
a quick word about UWSA:
• their predictive value seems to be underestimated. I was told by many people that with the extreme scores (at both ends high or low) they are useful in telling u where u stand

• Even if not predictive my recommendation is that u take them. They contain many questions about high yield topics that are nt mentioned in UW QB especially in Genetics ,Pharm and Histology.

• I also feel that their scoring is probably closer to the real deal. NBMEs seems more strict in their scoring. Example: I made some 30+ mistakes in UWSA 1 to get 262 while I got 13 mistakes to get 258 in NBMEs. If u ask me in the real deal I'd say my number of mistakes is more like UWSA and not NBME but that's just a personal opinion and can be wide off the mark.

2) Now I put myself in exam mode. So I will give myself 5 days before each NBME. In these 5 days, I have a list of things that I want to review before the real deal and it usually contains things that I forget alot and feel like my weaknesses. I will spend the 5 days before each NBME reviewing the same things so by the time u go for the real deal u wud've reviewed the most challenging concepts for u like 7 times or maybe even more. I think this is very important bec ths is the same list that u will review in the 5 days before ur exam day. This gives u a sense of control and confidence and that u know exactly what you'll do 5 days before ur exam. I heard a lot of people asking "what should I do 1 week before the exam?". Well start working on that list of yours and take control of the situation. If u do this list before every NBME and u get good scores then there is no reason u won't do the same on exam day .

NBME results ( all online)
NBME 7: 256
NBME 13: 251
NBME 12: 258
NBME 15: 254
NBME 16: 258
NBME 17: 262 ( closest to my result)

NB: taking more nbmes online (even if not the most predictive forms) will give u an idea about ur score range + it will give u an extra 200 questions/form and I think it's better than just taking one or two nbmes.

After I finished NBMEs I set my exam date to be 5 weeks from my last NBME ( and I was afraid that I have delayed the exam date more than I should ).

I divided these 5 weeks as follows:

3 weeks: reviewing the combo of FA +UW.

Obviously u have to accept that u may nt go through every detail in FA bt that's how it is. U will also find yourself forgetting some details while reviewing FA 2 weeks before the exam, u just have to accept that and live with it. It shouldn't hit ur confidence at all.

1 week: Endurance: doing UW randomized timed seven blocks/day for 7 days just to mimic exam day.

1 day travelling to exam center( my exam center is nt in the same country) and another day just letting fatigue out of my system. No studying

5 days : reviewing that List I told u about . Notice that when u do each nbme u can add more things to this list. This list probably contains 25% of FA and u have done it like 6 times before. It has literally become a piece of cake.
I don't like to take the day before the exam off but u have to sleep early.

EXAM DAY:
I was expecting the worst but was still worried in the exam because I felt I was guessing in too many questions for my liking. Even Patho questions that I felt I knew the topic well had difficult answer options... I'd say that I got much more WTF questions than I expected.

Physio was ok.

Gross Anat wasn't easy but was expected to be this way+ there were not that many questions anyway so I don't think u should spend a lot of time reading many anatomy books

Some questions about preventive medicine .
There was also a lot of questions about the best diet for certain type of patients which I found challenging and had to guess a lot.

These are the questions that bothered me the most and felt uncomfortable with.
Even some psych cases were not as straight forward.

I felt that the straightforward questions were less in number than I expected. Still I didn't panic, just had to live with it.

I hope you find this helpful and I wish you all the best of luck.
If you have any questions, I will be more than happy to reply.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
congratulations ! that's a very good score. can you please share the list of the things you studied last week
Thank you.
Of course. That's a good point. I think I have thrown it away but I will give it a shot. It's 5 days.

Day 1: - DNA and RNA (from UW+FA)
- collagen synthesis (from UW +FA)
- CHO, aa and Fat Metabolism (UW +FA)
- Lac Operon (UW)
- UW stats
- developmental milestones (mainly from Step 2 UW)
- Embryo: Branchial apparatus+Female Ligaments(FA)
- Gross Anat: UL and LL + thorax (UW only)
Day 2: Anatomy: H&N (UW) + neuroanatomy(UW) + Abdomen (UW)
Patho: CVS (UW)-Vascular (UW+FA)- Resp(UW)- all Renal ( FA+UW)-CNS( UW) Liver(especially Histopath of Hepatitis from UW)

Day 3: Only Pharma and mostly from UW: CVS (including antilipidemics)
renal- CNS-anti cancer- added anti psych later- anti platelets- ANS and General Pharma
Have to say UW is gold in Pharm

Day 4: Physio Only ( UW + FA): CVS (including cardiac function curves in UW and pressure volume loops) renal quick review - GIT FA is very imp
Resp ( UW imp+ kaplan notes+ FA)+ muscles and neuro from UW which is very little

Day 5 : anything u couldn't complete in the last 4 days + porphyrias from FA and UWSA+ vitamin defencies etc...
 

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How did you prepare for Pharm ?

There are so many drugs how to memorize them, any tricks ?

How to do Biostats ? any tips on that ?

Thank you.
Of course. That's a good point. I think I have thrown it away but I will give it a shot. It's 5 days.

Day 1: - DNA and RNA (from UW+FA)
- collagen synthesis (from UW +FA)
- CHO, aa and Fat Metabolism (UW +FA)
- Lac Operon (UW)
- UW stats
- developmental milestones (mainly from Step 2 UW)
- Embryo: Branchial apparatus+Female Ligaments(FA)
- Gross Anat: UL and LL + thorax (UW only)
Day 2: Anatomy: H&N (UW) + neuroanatomy(UW) + Abdomen (UW)
Patho: CVS (UW)-Vascular (UW+FA)- Resp(UW)- all Renal ( FA+UW)-CNS( UW) Liver(especially Histopath of Hepatitis from UW)

Day 3: Only Pharma and mostly from UW: CVS (including antilipidemics)
renal- CNS-anti cancer- added anti psych later- anti platelets- ANS and General Pharma
Have to say UW is gold in Pharm

Day 4: Physio Only ( UW + FA): CVS (including cardiac function curves in UW and pressure volume loops) renal quick review - GIT FA is very imp
Resp ( UW imp+ kaplan notes+ FA)+ muscles and neuro from UW which is very little

Day 5 : anything u couldn't complete in the last 4 days + porphyrias from FA and UWSA+ vitamin defencies etc...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Pharm: Just concentrate on the prototypes of each class...u don't need to know the names of all the drugs.

Kaplan book is good in that aspect. The drug names mentioned in Kaplan are enough.
It's better to know the name of all the anti-arrythmics though, and UW has a very nice mnemonic for them.
UW is very imp in Pharm.

Stats: the questions were really easy and straightforward for me.. Kaplan videos are very good ..

always remember that the point of Max SeNsitivity is the point of Max NPV and the point of Max SPecificity is the point of Max PPV

as sensitivity increases the FP will increase and as Specificity increases the FN will increase

SeNsitivity is 1- FN .... SPecificity is 1- FP

U need to know these very well before u enter the exam
 

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How to remember the prototypes ? what book to do ? or just UW is enough ?

for stats any book recomendation ?

Pharm: Just concentrate on the prototypes of each class...u don't need to know the names of all the drugs.

Kaplan book is good in that aspect. The drug names mentioned in Kaplan are enough.
It's better to know the name of all the anti-arrythmics though, and UW has a very nice mnemonic for them.
UW is very imp in Pharm.

Stats: the questions were really easy and straightforward for me.. Kaplan videos are very good ..

always remember that the point of Max SeNsitivity is the point of Max NPV and the point of Max SPecificity is the point of Max PPV

as sensitivity increases the FP will increase and as Specificity increases the FN will increase

SeNsitivity is 1- FN .... SPecificity is 1- FP

U need to know these very well before u enter the exam
 

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Thanks .Your stamina is commendable .It shows in your preparation and attention to detail.

tell me did you study with any study partners or were you on your own ?
when did you graduate ?
I feel I have found the right resources for everything except ethics .Every block has one or 2 such questions and "do what jesus would do " is not a valid approach to most of them .
I am following the same resources as you as BRS .You said BRS GIT is good , any other topics from there?

Thanks
 

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Hey man, congrats! you've definetly secured a position in the most competitive residencies! I do have a question: how did you go about micro? that seems to be my weakest point so far. Did you by any chance use sketchymicro or CMMRS? Did you use Anki?
other than that, once again, congrats.
 

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Hi spinal, nice score. How many months did you study for the exam?
And regarding physiology- don't you think it's safe to use only BRS? Or kaplan physio is a must?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
How to remember the prototypes ? what book to do ? or just UW is enough ?

for stats any book recomendation ?
Kaplan book has a list of drugs at the end of the chapter that is helpful.

UW is very important in pharmacology.. it takes you to the next level especially in cardio and cns.

It has become my main source in CVS, CNS and anti-lipidemics and antiviral

Antimicrobials are good in FA

Just stick to FA and UW and start with kaplan
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks .Your stamina is commendable .It shows in your preparation and attention to detail.

tell me did you study with any study partners or were you on your own ?
when did you graduate ?
I feel I have found the right resources for everything except ethics .Every block has one or 2 such questions and "do what jesus would do " is not a valid approach to most of them .
I am following the same resources as you as BRS .You said BRS GIT is good , any other topics from there?

Thanks
Thanks for ur kind words and I wish u the best of luck.
I didn't have any study partners .. I find it difficult because everyone has their own plan and pace.

Ethics can be a problem especially if ur test has a lot of questions abt it, but I will try to tell u from my own experience: U must know the exceptions to consent and confidentiality and emancipated minor. U must be able to decide decision-making capacity. U must know the sequence in End-of-life issues from the advanced-directives, proxy , substituted judegement and stuff like that. FA outlines these things but it's in more detail in Kaplan but I will strongly advise u to use Fischer's 200 cases in Ethics(in addition to kaplan and FA) because it will expose u to many clinical scenarios. I first saw this book after taking step 2 and if I could turn back the hands of time I wud've read it before step 2.. Saw 2 or 3 questions straight out of it. I don't think I saw a lot of questions out of it in step 1 but it will give u a good base and confidence.

RE BRS: Muscle physio, Renal in some parts , good in endo but too much
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hey man, congrats! you've definetly secured a position in the most competitive residencies! I do have a question: how did you go about micro? that seems to be my weakest point so far. Did you by any chance use sketchymicro or CMMRS? Did you use Anki?
other than that, once again, congrats.
Thank you very much and best of luck to u . I started Micro with Kaplan with FA. Kaplan is more than enough and probably too much. U may get some low yield questions that u will find only in Kaplan. As my studying progresses I started to see that FA is becoming my main Micro resource. It's very good and high yield.. and usually the micro questions are not that difficult. I had CMMRS all the way and used it with every bacteria to see if there are extra info. It's a good book but I have to say most Micro rseources have the same things.. SO I would recommend FA+kaplan and obviously UW

Haven't used Anki or sketchy
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hi spinal, nice score. How many months did you study for the exam?
And regarding physiology- don't you think it's safe to use only BRS? Or kaplan physio is a must?
Thank you. It took me a lot of time almost 2 years but wasn't studying hard during these whole 2 years.. I think 12-18 months for IMG who wants a good score is logical..Although I know ppl who got higher scores in less time.These are geniuses so it really differs from one person to another.

Kaplan is a must for me. With BRS , it's the ultimate preparation. I was surprised because I felt Kaplan's Physio book wasn't getting enough recognition in USMLE forums
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Congratulations brother :cool:

One question, Is DIT of any help?
Thank you , Wish u all the best.
I didn't use DIT . I heard good things abt it. I was talking to some ppl after the exam who watched and telling them about the anatomy questions tht I wasn't comfortable with in the exam and they told me the guys in DIT touched on it so if that's true then I am impressed.

I think after u finish full preparation and do UW.. if u get good scores in NBMEs don't do DIT. If u have scores that u don't like then do DIT. That's the main reason I didn't do it or Goljan's Audio
 

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congratulations on great score.Do u recommend reading HY series or Brs for anat or stick to kaplan,fa & what to focus as im weak in this subject.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
congratulations on great score.Do u recommend reading HY series or Brs for anat or stick to kaplan,fa & what to focus as im weak in this subject.
Well as you know Anatomy is a big subject, which Anat are you talking about?

I had HY neuroanatomy, but the guys in kaplan have the same content in their lecture notes.. I even thought maybe they bought the rights of HY NA because it was very similar info. for me it's kaplan notes + videos for neuroanatomy.

BRS Gross anat is too much for Step 1 IMO.

I would say stick with FA+Kaplan +UW
 

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Congrats

Hello Dr,
Congrats a lot for your great score! You really deserved this accomplishment! and a big thanks because of your effort here to answer other peoples questions! I really appreciate that!
I wanted to know your opinion about just watching Kaplan videos and not reading Kaplan notes, because as I feel, Kaplan just make your platform for next steps of preparation for step1 and you will forget most of them later, and reading all Kaplan notes will take a lot of time, while you really need to go through FA again over and over. so isn't that wiser to skip the notes and save time for going more on FA?! or you think there is a big difference and we should also read them as well?!
thanks and good luck in your next steps!
 
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