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Old 11-26-2014
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Default My step 1 experience- 245

Although my score is not as amazing as some of the others in this forum I would like to share my experience of this great monster of an exam. My original aim was 250+ but in the end i happily settled for 245.

I am an IMG, graduate of 2012, who started prep in mid of February this year. I started with kaplan videos and books side by side. I gave my first read of all the books + videos of all except anatomy and of course pathology. The anatomy guy was too boring for me and histology nearly killed me. Neuroanatomy videos were good and i watched them to clear some concepts. Otherwise my advise would be to skip anatomy videos entirely. For pathology i did pathoma + videos. I was a little behind my schedule when I started my pathology prep and i decided to go for Pathoma instead of golgen. On hindsight, although pathoma was good, if i had more time i would have gone for Golgen simply because i have this weird fascination with bigger books and i am suspicious of smaller review books Side by side i also did cases for usmle step 1, a review type book of First Aid. It has easy questions but integrated and it made a nice change when i got bored reading the kaplan books.
The first read took around 4 months. I wasted alot of time during this period due to commitments and some general laziness on my part. After my first read of Kaplan i moved on to First Aid. After i would read a chapter from First Aid i would open the respective Kaplan books and make little notes on my First Aid. The first read of FA + kaplan mini points took around one month. After that i decided to give NBME 11 offline just to see where i stood. I got around 227 according to the 1.4 multiply by no. of corrects method. The form was pretty easy and it did give me a little confidence that maybe this exam was not THAT hard as they say ( NOTE: it is HARD do not be fooled by that NBME )
Next i moved on to UWORLD. I got a one month subscription and this is the one month that i studied like crazy. I did 2 blocks every day with explanations and annotated the important points in my First Aid. It got so crowded that i used sticky notes and by the end of that one month my First Aid was in dire need of first aid! My cumulative first pass % of UW was 74% and i noted that i was doing poorly in physiology. I decided to do a selective review of kaplan physiology in subjects i was weak in. It was around this time that i also decided to finally open BRS physiology that was just lying around unused since my college days ignored even then due to my fascination with big books like Guyton. BUT i would say BRS physiology is an excellent book and a must have for step 1. It is short and to the point and can clear alot of concepts. The MCQs are really good in that book too. Side by side i was also doing my second read of FA and some questions from kaplan Qbank. After i finished my second read I then gave NBME 15 and got 241. This was 3 months before the exam. I was happy i was on the right track and thats when i got a little relaxed and lost my focus a bit. So just be careful, even if your NBME's are getting better dont get relaxed at all! I did half of kaplan Q bank minus the pharma and pathology and i think it is very useful as it trains your mind to deal with WTF questions. Particularly anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, genetics and biostats. I gave First Aid 3rd and 4th read and after that i solved NBME 13 offline and got 241 again. I got worried as i was aiming for 250+ but then thought i still have 2 months + was burnt out and never really recovered my focus. I revised first aid for the 5th time and did kaplan MCQs. One month before the exam i gave NBME 16 online and i got 237! And that is when i started panicking. Instead of my score improving it was going down and had hit 230's! I attacked the exam prep with a vengeance and started doing as many MCQs as possible. Did UW offline again, and i also did all the remaining NBME's from 5-16 ( scored around 245-253 offline in 5,6,7,12) and i can say they were a BIG help in the exam. I also did one session NBME 12 + Free 150 to get a hang of the long exam and i discovered by the end of the fifth block i was too tired to think. That was a big worry for me but i think doing as many timed MCQs as you can really can overcome that. I also noticed in my NBME's that i was having a hard time with anatomy and decided to due a quick review of high yield anatomy and review some of the blue boxes from the big KLM anatomy book. I would recommend anatomy shelf notes and high yield for the exam.
The last 15 days i revised first aid again and saw as many CTs and MRI's as i could. Highly recommend these sites : ,

Exam day:
I got around 4-5 hours of sleep, more than i usually do for any exam. I was surprisingly calm when i started the exam. The first block there were soo many questions of anatomy, X rays, MRI of lower limb muscles. The block otherwise was not that hard and i got a little relaxed after that. On average i finished each block with 15 minutes to spare, except in the last one in which i had less than 10 minutes probably due to exhaustion. My stratedgy was to not spend time on the harder questions which i knew i would be guessing in the end anyway, so i just marked them and went on. One block i thought i did reallly well. The others i marked 10-12 questions on average and didnt know how i did on them. The exam overall was hard but doable. I personally felt UW+FA+ kaplan are enough. There were alot of repeated concepts from older NBME's so my sincere advice would be to do them if not as a assessment tool then definitely as a practice tool. Do them from 5-16. Just two questions were there on urinary incontinence and honestly apart from anatomy i didnt see alot of questions in which i would say i have no clue what was going on. Biochem was scarce, cell biology and genetics was hard, biostats, patho were easy. Pharma was a little tricky. But then every exam is different.

In the end i would just say that to get a good score on this exam is more than doable! 85-90% of the exam is still covered by first aid and uworld.Do as many MCQs as you can and start them early. The journey is long and can be exhausting but never lose your focus. Take some days out of your study time to relax. Once a week at least but not too many that you get too relaxed. Dont ignore you family and friends completely. It was the prayers of my family and friends who got me to this score I wish everyone on this journey best of luck!
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