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Hope everyone is well. I've been a member of this forum since 2011. It seems like people don't use these forums anymore as focus has shifted to facebook groups. Seems like these forums are now filled with usmle prep companies trying to advertise.

Anyways, my knowledge level was essentially 0 when I started this journey. I was an IMG and like most IMGs had to prep on my own. Passed Step 1, Step 2 CS, and Step 2 CK. Matched into residency and passed Step 3. The journey was long and stressful but very much worth it. I wanted to share some pearls with you all and what I learned over time.

-For USMLE Step 1, Uworld, Sketchy micro/pharm, Pathoma are the gold standard now. As always link everything to first aid. Spaced repetition is key. Whether it be anki cards or whether it's doing multiple passes of above resources.

-NBME's under-predict for low scorers. This is true for USMLE Step 1, especially Step 2 ck, and especially Step 3.Maybe it's accurate for those in the 230-240 range but otherwise they have under-predicted for me. I can't tell you how many people including myself have delayed our exams because an NBME falsely showed a fail, when in reality we were well above pass range. My advice, go for the exam based on a combination of nbme, UWSA, Free 150 (there are formulas about score conversions), and other self assessments that might exist.

-Step 2 CS has been cancelled. All you needed to do was go to any testing location, meet with a group of students there and practice cases. Do not waste your money with test prep companies. You're better off meeting students and practicing with them. Anyways this won't be an issue anymore since exam is cancelled.

-for Step 2 CK, Uworld explanations are gold. Know the explanations inside and out. Supplement with onlinemeded videos and osmosis videos to help simply concepts. NBME's and CMS underpredict but use them to calibrate to usmle style of asking questions and to learn concepts that may not be in uworld. Also use free 150 to calibrate to usmle questions and concepts, however free usmle is pretty good at predicting score. UWSA 1 and UWSA 2 are very reliable assesments for Step 2 CK; the average of both assessments will be close to your USMLE step 2 ck score

-For Step 3, Uworld Qbank, Uworld CCS, CCScases.com. CCS is key to doing well on this exam. It'll add 15-20 points to your score if you truly master CCS

-Do not ever pay usmle tutors or for pay for expensive usmle courses. There is nothing magical that tutors or courses will give you that are not present in the USMLE resources that I listed above. There is no guarantee that tutors passed usmle exams, or even scored high, or became ecfmg certified, or even completed residency. My advise would be that you do not need tutors but if for some reason you decide to take a course, make sure they are vetted and provide documentation of their USMLE transcript, ECFMG certification, and proof of residency.

-Apply to residency programs early. Go based on your schools match list. I think there were some helpful websites where they create a match list for you based on your criteria but do not rely solely on those. Do not pay more than $50 to have someone edit your personal statement. Do email programs saying thank you, do mail handwritten thank you cards, do show interest and ask about a second look.


I hope this helps!
 

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I have always believed in divine intervention and that a "higher power" works in mysterious ways. I am also an IMG and a specialist in my country of origin. When I migrated here in the USA 2011, I applied for USMLE/ECFMG with the intent of getting into a residency program. As fate would have it, I was lead in a different direction where I was able to work as a PA from 2012 upto the present. My life has been comfortable and I could not complain as I was making a living and being the breadwinner of the family.

Today, for some unfathomable reason, our pathologist approached me for the second time to motivate me to pursue the USMLE and get into residency. Throughout the day, I have been getting consistent vibes and signals to take the plunge from several individuals. I just have so many misgivings and fears: my age, my young kids, my senior husband, getting a paycut from my nearly 6-figure salary, and getting out of my comfort zone. I tend to overthink a lot when I know I should determine first whether I will pass this test or not. Then maybe that will be the sign that I was meant to pursue a higher calling.

And then now, after all these years, I went back to this forum to seek guidance. And the first post I read is yours which I find really inspiring for its simplicity, honesty, and practicality. Thank you for reinforcing my decision to take the first step to this calling. I will always refer to your posts for guidance and hopefully it will get me through the day - one step at a time.
 
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