Saturday, March 3, 2018

How I scored a 258 on USMLE Step 1

I scored a 258 on the USMLE Step 1 a year back!

How I prepared:

I studied for a total duration of dedicated 6 months. I used following resources:
-Google/Youtube/wikipedia (my prime educators)
-FA 2016
- uWorld offline 2016 (was tight on my budget so didn't buy online)
- BRS pyhsio (only did renal, body fluids and Acid base)
- BRS behavioural (only for devlopemental milestones, physician patient relationship, medicoloegal/ethical issues, healthcare delivery and epidemiology/biostats)
- High yield biostats (only for study designs, bias, probablities and aplha/beta concepts)
- BRS genetics (only for population and hardweinberg genetics)
- Shelf notes (anatomy)
- Beckers anatomy (only for selected topics in neuroscience [didn't do entire neuroscience], upper and lower limb)
- Beckers immuno/micro (for immuno and bactrial/viral  genetics [didn't do entire micro]
- DIT 2015 (short and precise, found it effective atleast for me)
- Kaplan 2014 video (only for pharma)
- NBMEs ( all of them)
- Kaplan Qbank offline (only for genetics, pathophysio and pathology)
-Goljan audio lectures

I started my prep with offline uWorld, did all the questions according to systems and used it solely as a learning tool.

Meanwhile, I was also using DIT, FA, Goljan audio lectures and NBMEs

- How did I use offline uWorld?

According to systems (first did all the questions of particular system followed by explanations with read of relevant topics in FA [This is how I integrated all the scattered topics in FA relevant to that system], I never read FA cover to cover but with this strategy I was going through the same topic many times.

Advice: Make seperate notes of UW acc to systems rather than annotating it on FA, clean FA really helped me in the end.

- How did I use audio/video stuff?

Parallel with UW and FA (It didn't take long, since DIT videos were short and oriented to FA. Goliyan audio lectures were also short. Kaplan pharmacology lectures I watched in  x1.5 speed [I really can't sit for straight 4 hours :D ])

- How much time all this took?
UW with FA and audio/video stuff took 4 months.

- When did I start NBMEs?

I started them right after after 1 month of starting UW & FA (first I needed to figure out what topics were  being tested and to what extent [though USMLE site gives info on it but you only get to know it when you start doing NBMEs], then I  focused on HOW CONCEPTS were tested rather than what concepts were being tested. By this type of analytics you get general idea of predicting different ways a concept can be tested.

Advice: Please start doing NBME early in your prep, all the NBMEs asess your baseline knowledge in different ways. So if used properly NBMES can be a learning tool aswell as an assessment tool.

Opinion: In my view NBME 12, 16 & 18 were closest to my exam (real exam was a beast but that doesn't mean its not doable). For me NBME 12 was an eye opener, it really fine tuned my Q approach and provided guidance on what areas to work on. It is after this NBME that i was able to push my scores beyond 180/200.
Note: I used NBME 1-11 for learning, practice and analysis.
NBME 12-18 I used for asessment.

- What about last 2 months?
In last 2 months I did assessment NBMEs (was doing it at every one week interval, in btw interval I was doing FA + my notes, read relevant topics from resources I mentioned in part#1, did kaplan Qbank questions and also BRS Qs (questions given in the back of each chapter and at the end of book) so one week before exam I was done with all the NBMEs.
- NOT TO MENTION THAT I was GOOGLING/YOUTUBING all the time during my :D

- My NBME scores:
  Nbme 12 -178/200
   Nbme 13 - 190/200
   Nbme 15 - 188/200
   Nbme 16 - 183/200
   Nbme 17-  186/200
   Nbme 18 - 259 (online)
   Real deal - 258!

Advice: Before your exam do 2 NBMEs or UWSA 1 and 2 in a row in one day to practice endurance, because in my experience fatigue almost killed my concentration  in 6th/7th block.

Feel free to ask questions.
Study hard and smart.
Good luck everyone :)

Written by Ammar Mushtaq

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