During my journey from preparing for step 1 to getting the results with 260+ scores, I have learned a lot from my mistakes, decisions, and studying strategies. I know which resources are essential and help get most out of Step 1, how to study and use these resources, and what mistakes you should avoid during your preparation to score high in the Step 1 exam.
A smart man learns from others’ experiences. And you are smart enough to learn from my Step 1 experience and save yourself more time, energy, and motivation. That’s why I am glad to share my step 1 experience with you.
Resource I Used
I only used the resources which are essential for the preparation, and there is no question of scoring high in Step 1 without these resources. These include:
● First Aid,
● Goljan Audio,
● Usmle-Rx, and
One thing I want you to realize is that nothing can supplant a solid foundation of preclinical subjects. Many students understand this fact when it is already too late. A solid understanding of preclinical subjects makes it easy to get through First Aid. When doing Qbanks, you will realize that most of the facts you are applying to solve the question were learned during the course lectures.
Regularly attending all your lectures and doing well in your first two years ultimately prepares you to score high on Step 1.
First Aid (FA) is the backbone of your Step 1 preparation. I was lucky enough to start using First Aid from the very early days of medical school. After every class and reading the topic from the textbook, I used to get through the First Aid for that same topic. This subtle act of intelligence worked great for me. By the time I cleared my 2nd year, I already had gone through FA and knew how to study from the book to its full extent. I can undoubtedly credit my success to Pathoma and Goljan Audio. There is nothing that has not already been said to describe the importance of both resources. Both guys are just awesome. One thing I would like to mention is that you should actively listen to Goljan’s Audio lectures. You should keep your book in front of you, make annotations, and pause the audio to answer his high-yield questions. I was able to answer 6/10 of his questions. USMLE-Rx. One thing I later realized was to use this Qbank and FA as a single unit. I would highly recommend using USMLE-Rx along with FA from the beginning. It helps you better digest the FA content and gives know-how about the questions being asked in the exam. I could just complete 68% of the Qbank, with a 75% end average and a predicted score of 260 +/- 20. I did the majority of questions as the random blocks. UWorld. It also helped me learn a lot for the exam day. I could only complete 75% of the Qbank with an end average of 85%, which remained quite the same throughout the Qbank. I did all the Qbank in Random, Timed mood to simulate the real exam. UWorld is an incredible learning tool for Step 1 preparation, and I wish I had more time to have it finished.
● NBME 13 (Six weeks before the test): Got 252
● NBME 15 (Four weeks before the test): Got 250
● UWSA1 ((Four Weeks Before the test): 258
● CBSE by the school (Three weeks before the test): 260
● UWSA2 (Two weeks before the test): 262
Step 1 Exam
I was a little bit scared by the stories I have heard during my preparation. My expectations of encountering a long and challenging test with large question stems, graphs, and data calculations, did not come true. Almost half the questions from every block were easy to understand, first-order questions. One-third of the questions required critical thinking and application of more than two subjects to find out the answer. The other one-third questions were tough, and I had no idea about their answers. For those questions, I could do nothing but guess the answer.
Most of the questions were similar to NBME questions. One problem that I faced was a vague understanding of the question stems or answers. Reading the question, you may get the disease they are talking about, its pathophysiology, its treatment, but what they ask is totally out of the way. When looking at the answers, I could not short down the choice for less than two answers
Then I blindly selected any of the two and moved on. The ethics / behavioral sciences questions were also tricky, and I just moved on to the next questions by guessing their answers. Some epidemiology questions also required the interpretation of graphs and calculation of data, which was very tough. However, the one thing I can surely tell you is that the test questions are no different than that you have practiced during your preparation. Just believe in your NBME and UWSA scores. Step 1 scores are a little less or more than their predicted scores. So your performance on these tests directly correlates with the Step 1 exam scores.
That’s it, my champs. Best of luck to you all!