USMLE Step 1: Preparation Tips
I had 2 months to prepare for my USMLE Step 1 test. I had already taken my Step 2 exam and had scored 240. Usually, the score in the second exam is higher than that of the first exam because candidates have learnt the tricks of better test-taking by then. However, this does not mean that you write Step 2 first. I studied between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. In the final month before the test, I started studying at 8 a.m. I prefer studying in the mornings for better results.
- Kaplan videos for all topics except pathology and microbiology
- Pathoma videos with notes: This is a very high-yield resource.
- UWorld question banks (If you want to attempt other question banks, try Rx instead of Kaplan.)
- PrepEZ Questions of the Day
Practice test scores:
I attempted several NBME practice tests and here are my scores:
- NBME-7 (offline) = 220
- NBME-13 (online) = 237
- NBME-15 (online) = 247
- UWSA -1 (online) = 256
- UWSA-2 (online) = 249
- NBME-16 (online) = 230
- NBME-17 and NBME-18 (online) = 245 and 225
Around half the test is based on this topic, so study it well.
- Listen to the lectures on Pathoma and add your comments to it—this should take a week.
- Revise the material in the next 2 days.
- Next, review the pathology portion in First Aid.
- Attempt all the questions in UWorld to consolidate your learning.
- Do use the pictures and high-yield lines of Goljan.
- A week before the test, look at the pictures of Pathoma.
- Practice diagnostics questions from UWorld as they are similar to the ones appearing in the test.
- I studied from First Aid and UWorld.
- I also reviewed the first 2 units from Kaplan.
- A good strategy is to learn 10 facts at bedtime and review them the next day.
- The most tested topics are advanced medicine and immune therapy mechanism.
- I listened to Kaplan’s lectures for 3-4 days. Study First Aid and then attempt questions from UWorld online.
- You can search UWorld for questions on specific topics. For instance, signaling mechanism. These questions are high-yield ones.
- First Aid has two pages on immunology with high-yield material.
- Listen to Dr. Turco’s lectures and do not ignore this subject.
- I studied Kaplan for this topic.
- Usually, clinically-oriented questions are asked from this topic.
- For Genetics, I listened to Dr. Turco’s lectures first, then I attempted questions from Kaplan’s question bank and finally I attempted UWorld twice.
- I began by listening to Kaplan’s lectures, especially on neuroanatomy.
- Two days before the test, I reviewed Shelf Notes of Anatomy in 5 hours. I got a question from this on the test.
- I memorized UWorld Anatomy and then studied Kaplan.
- Learning the material in this sequence will help: Neurology and nerves lesion, vessels, muscle function, pictures from UWorld and Shelf notes
- A week ahead of the test, review all the gross pictures of neurology.
- Begin by listening to the lectures by Steve Daugherty. You may not understand them the first time, but be persevering.
- Attempt Rx question bank, UWorld Step 1, and UWorld special subscription for 70 questions. If you have the time, you can also attempt Step 2 questions.
- Questions from NBME biostatistics are also high-yielding.
- I studied First Aid and attempted UWorld questions.
- USMLE Step 1 exam has begun to test topics like fungus ecology, resistance mechanism, virology, and parasites most recently.
- I began by listening to lectures of Kaplan and concentrated on cardio, renal, and respo.
- Endocrinology and cardiology questions may be in the form of graphs or arrow symbols. Learn these facts from UWorld and First Aid.
- Review the physiology pictures and the menstruation graphs.
- First Aid and UWorld are also best for neurophysiology.
Psychiatry and Behavioral Science:
- BRS behavioral science will help you through all the steps of the USMLE exam.
- Next, study First Aid and attempt UWorld questions.
- Solve the 100 cases of Conrad Fischer.
One month ahead of the exam, I reviewed the following things:
- BRS behavioral science
- NBME – last four tests
- UWSA-1 and UWSA-2
- UWorld questions
- Biostatistics from UWorld, UWorld special review, Rx
- Anatomy from Shelf Notes
Take the NBME-17 or NBME-18 practice test two weeks before the exam. Walking and jogging will help you feel refreshed.
One week ahead of the exam, I reviewed all my high-yield notes. Find a list of forgettable topics for Step 1 exam and study them. Search for a list of 150 high-yield cases USMLE and study them. Review the pictures and tables on UWorld.
Tips for test day:
- Questions of all difficulty levels are asked—easy, moderate, and hard.
- Don’t waste time figuring out the answers to the difficult questions. You can re-attempt them in the end.
- In the beginning, you can take short breaks. Later, you can take longer ones.
- Wear a shirt without pockets to reduce time taken for security checks.
- Stay confident throughout the exam.
- Avoid panicking as it can affect your performance in the entire block.