my USMLE test experience

My USMLE Step 1 Test Experience

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


My study plan for the last 2 months before the USMLE Step 1 exam was to work through each section of First Aid, then solve the questions from UWorld question bank and PrepEZ Question Bank, and watch SketchyMedical videos on weekends. I could not follow this plan for 2 reasons:

  1. I was able to work through First Aid in 4 weeks, longer than I had anticipated. However, this helped me because I could see where the organ systems coincided. I did not get this context from the preclinical curriculum spread over 20 months.
  2. When I began solving questions from UWorld, I noticed that my weaknesses were microbiology (mycology, parasitology, virology) and pharmacology.
  3. However, I also practiced USMLE Question of the Day on a daily basis.

I had meticulously planned my studies for the final 2 months and was anxious about changing the plan. However, I decided to focus on SketchyMicro and SketchyPharm videos for 2 weeks instead of continuing with the UWorld questions. After this, I wrote a 4-hour practice test and scored 243, whereas my target was 245. Previously, I scored in the 60th percentile i.e. around 230. Thus, I was able to improve my score considerably by strengthening my weak topics.

One day before the test, I did not study and took the time to relax.

Test day:

I reached the test venue 45 minutes ahead of scheduled time and was able to start the test half an hour early.

  • Carry adequate food and water. I carried chocolate, apples, trail mixes, and a lunch of rice and veggies. I snacked on chocolate and drank water after each test block.
  • When you are unable to focus, look away from the screen for 10 seconds. I read this tip on a Kaplan test prep. It gives your eyes a break and allows your mind to rest for a bit.
  • Sleep well at least 2 nights before the test. It is better to allow your brain to rest and be fresh for the test rather than try to stuff more information in it by staying up late.
  • Write a practice test a few days ahead of the actual test. If you do well, you will feel better. If you don’t, it will inspire you to work harder.
  • Rest one day ahead of the actual test. I relaxed and did not study. It helped me do better on the exam.

I am yet to receive my score but I am confident of having done well.

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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