How I scored 250 in USMLE Step 1 exam

How I Scored 250 in the USMLE Step 1 Exam

This is the test taking experience of USMLE Step 1 submitted by a USMLE taker. You can read other USMLE takers’ experience HERE.

My USMLE Step 1 exam score was 250.

Personal drawbacks:

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 and would also browse through their discussion forums regularly.

General tips:

  • 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.

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