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Old 10-13-2014
neilnf's Avatar
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Show Teeth My Usmle Step 1 experience

This post is on my Step 1 preparation.

Time frame (3 months 10 days)

Preparation started 1 November

Exam 10th February

This is not an ideal plan but this is for those people who like me are forced to cram up in order to face a deadline I feel this experience will be a post worth reading. Due to some problems I had to finish my Step 1 USMLE examination in 4 months time max.

I started my proper preparation for Step 1 in November 1st week. Initially I was like a rusted machine trying to get back in shape since my internship was like an extended vacation. Coming from a college where the Profs keep shooting bouncer questions at you during clinical rounds in the hospital and where each person is trying to outdo the neighbour, internship is a breeze. The Profs love you more than the P.G.s and the final year students love you as you are their link to the exam cases and clinical skills

So starting off. I started with Kaplan Lecture notes and videos as was recommended by all, for the initial preparation in order to make the foundation strong. I used to watch the videos at 2x to 3x speed (helps to reduce a 3 hour lecture to 1 hour) and thanks to that in a month's time I was done with at least 3/4th of ALL subjects. The drill was get up at 6. Start watching the videos @7 till 12. Eat chit chat with friends and then again start @2 till 8 in the night. Watch a bit of TV and if cant do that then continue studying. During this session I didnít focus on studying, I only heard videos understood concepts, marked or annotated my lecture notes with important information that I found interesting in the lecture. Nothing else.

Regarding Patho I would recommend doing Goljan audios. Really amazing teacher. The jokes and stories from his lecture I will not forget till date. Really informative.
Now in December I met one of my seniorís Ms. X who actually got me into the game zone from my fairy tale story. I owe her my entire score and study plan. She advised me to start Uworld early on and not wait for a month prior to the exam since that was my original plan. So on December 5th I opted for the 2 months Uworld subscription along with 2 UWSA exams and thank god for that, since it actually gave me a fresh outlook to how bad my studies were. I initially was studying from a POV of byehearting the entire book thinking each and thought that every point was essential, but as I chugged along Uworld I realized what was important and what wasnít. I could start focussing on parts where I was weak and re-read them.

Initially I was 2 percent below the average in individual exams (a very helpful feature I feel in Uworld). When I told my seniors this, they said donít worry about it as initially they were all in the same boat. They told me that as you progress through the q bank you slowly start building your knowledge, and that questions start to form in your head when studying. Towards the end I was somewhere about 10 percent above the average which was what my seniors told to look forward to.

Few Tips (which I got from seniors) Read EACH and every LINE of uworld. Not only the right answer but wrong ones too. DO NOT think of it as a Q Bank but take it as a book to study and learn from. Use those side indexes from post-its on your First Aid in order to know which section is where. (Label each section in short)

Next use yellow stick ons from post-its and ADD information to your first aid. In the end when you are only reading First Aid you have to know where what is where. You should be that familiar with it like the back of your hand.


I then took my Uworld self assessment around 2 weeks prior to exam and figure out where I stack up in the long run and I found it decent enough, but decided will study harder since your score determines where you match. 1 week prior took the 2nd UWSA, scores came along the same lines. Finally did a few NBMEs and they were all on the same lines and then I decided I was ready. I did not want to postpone my exams since seniors had said that it will not be a wise decision.

An advice that one of my seniors told was to an online NMBE say form 15 along with the 3 hours sample questions which USMLE.org gives in sample study material. So you get a rough idea of what 8hours feels like.
So in all 3 months and 10 days later I finally gave my exam and got a score of 235. Might not look like a great score, but when time is scarce, I would settle with this which is a bit above the average that I needed to match in IM or Peds.

A last word of advice. On the exam day for heavenís sake DONíT take cetirizine if you have a cold. (worst mistake of my life) will never do that ever again.

EXAM DAY EXPERIENCE

I had my exam in Hyderabad. Half way through the exam thought I had flunked already and was feeling really bad and thought of just walking out. I even slept in the exam as I was that drowsy thanks to the cetrizine I had taken earlier. Furthermore to those who wonít believe me, when I came out from the exam I actually thought will start preparing for Indian PG entrance and stop thinking about USMLE. So hope you can understand how bad the exam went (Now looking back at it feel that everyone goes through a similar experience )

However on the day of the result when I saw 235 I actually felt thankful to god since I was expecting just a passing score (200 odd). But then as I always feel God has already planned out my life, I am just fulfilling my destiny.

FAQ's

You dont need to read Kaplan books more than once.

Do micro and immunology LN with the videos - the professor is amazing
Patho Goljan audios should be sufficient if time constraints there.
Physio Kaplan Notes plus videos nice
Ethics DO THE VIDEOS and notes
Anatomy EmBRYO very good videos
In short if possible do all the videos atleast the for the initial chapters

Do mail me if have any doubts

Also checkout firecracker http://med.firecracker.me/ and usmlestat http://usmlestat.com/ . They free for Step1 preparation

Further tips and posts can be found on neilnf.blogspot.com
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