My USMLE preparation tips

USMLE Step 1 Preparation Tips From My Experience

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

I am currently awaiting my score. I prepared for 12-14 hours a day for 5 months.


  • Anatomy – Hi Yield
  • Neurology – Kaplan
  • Histology – Kaplan
  • Embryology – First Aid
  • Physiology – Kaplan and complete videos
  • Pathology – Goljan (Ed 3) audio
  • Pharmacology – Kaplan, videos only for dynamics and pharmacokinetics
  • Behavioral Sciences – Kaplan, videos only for statistics and epidemiology
  • Microbiology and Immunology – Kaplan, YouTube videos of teacher teaching south African students

Question banks:

  • Kaplan question bank – Helps memorize concepts but does not help with the test
  • PrepEZ Question Bank and USMLE Question of the Day: : I used these to test my concept on random questions in MIXED Mode. Switching from topic to topic requires flexible thinking and integrating information across several subjects, therefore I liked this.
  • UWorld – Concepts and questions are similar to the actual test

First reading (3.5 months):

I worked through Kaplan and attempted the MCQs at the end of each chapter (present in previous editions). I wasn’t able to answer them correctly. Next, I attempted the Kaplan paper question bank.

Second reading:

I read only Kaplan books and went through the videos of biostatistics, biochemistry, and epidemiology again. I also attempted UWorld but could not get the answers correct. I was able to identify my weak points—physiology curves, cardiac cycle, murmurs, biostatistics calculations, and biochemistry cycles. I focused on them using resources from YouTube, various videos, Google search, and Gyton.

Third reading:

I quickly reviewed all of the above topics. I used First Aid videos only for embryology.

Test experience:

Organize the documents required (passport, appointment confirmation letter) a day ahead of the exam. Carry light snacks, juice, and water. Wear pants that don’t have too many pockets. It is best to look up the venue so you are familiar with the route.

I found the first block tough and took a break after 2 blocks. I felt sleepy and dizzy during the last 2 blocks. I felt that many answers could be answered using one’s intuition.

The test looks exactly like the FRED2 software and UWorld and the concepts are similar.

Satabdi is a content writer and editor with degrees in Biology and English. Her interests include education, health and wellness, and books. When not writing, she can usually be found reading in a corner.

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