How I Scored 250 in the USMLE Step 1 Exam
My USMLE Step 1 exam score was 250.
I have a few disadvantages that I thought would affect my performance in the exam. I graduated a few years ago. I have a poor memory and I read very slowly. I am also addicted to Facebook. However, I found that my clinical experiences helped to answer some questions on the actual test. Because of my slow pace of learning, I gave myself 9 months to prepare. To combat my Facebook worries, I joined the Facebook page of PrepEZ.com and would also browse through their discussion forums regularly.
- If you have studied diligently during your four years at medical school, then First Aid should be sufficient. I had forgotten all my basics, so I needed more.
- Study all subjects and then attempt the questions in NBME.
- Complete all questions in NBME and analyze the wrong answers.
- You may pass the test by memorizing facts but you can get a high score only by understanding all concepts.
- Najeeb’s videos are long, so ensure that you have sufficient time to review them. Take notes while you’re watching them and skip portions of the videos where you deem necessary.
- Use First Aid as your base study resource and study topics from other resources side by side. Add notes to First Aid when you find new material, especially from UWorld.
- Use the Zamzam schedule if you feel able to commit to a timetable.
- Think positively and pray hard.
- If your initial scores on NBME are low, do not get demotivated. This is not an indicator of your final performance. You will improve with time and effort.
- It is normal to have occasional thoughts of quitting and it is okay to cry.
Study resources used for USMLE Step 1:
I began my preparations with neuroanatomy since it was my weakest topic. I reviewed Dr. Najeeb’s videos and Kaplan’s book (2014) and videos. I also used Dr. Najeeb’s videos for histology and molecular biology.
- Biochemistry: Kaplan (2014) book and videos
- Genetics: Kaplan’s question bank
- Physiology: Kaplan (2014) book and videos, Dr. Najeeb’s videos for a few intricate concepts
After this, I subscribed to UWorld for 6 months and attempted questions from anatomy, biochemistry, and physiology only. As and when I completed studying a subject, I began attempting questions on UWorld from those subjects.
- Microbiology: SketchyMicro videos, Kaplan’s book and videos [Immunology videos are better in the Kaplan 2010 edition.]
- Pathology: Kaplan’s book and videos (2014)
- Pharmacology: SketchyPharm videos, Kaplan’s book and videos (2014)
- Behavioral science, Biostatistics: Kaplan (2010) book and videos, UWorld for biostatistics questions
I took the NBME-17 test after this and scored 244. I attempted a few paper tests resulting in similar scores. I went through UWorld once and attempted the UWSA -1. My score was 256.
I had failed to study First Aid side-by-side for all the subjects so now I began revision using Goljan, First Aid, and Pathoma videos. I took 2 months to review Goljan and Pathoma videos improved my understanding of slides.
However, I felt I had made a few mistakes. I should have attempted UWorld twice, studied First Aid for all subjects side by side, and reviewed the Pathoma videos twice instead of Goljan.
Next, I attempted the Kaplan question bank for behavioral science and biostatistics to help improve my scores.
My subsequent test scores were:
- NBME-18 = 242
- NBME-19 = 244
- USWA-2 = 258
USMLE Step 1 Test experience:
I trained my body to sleep for 5 hours a night for 2 weeks before the test. Although I was anxious, I had faith in myself. I would advise you not to hurry to take the test. Prepare well and attempt UWorld and First Aid twice.