Category Archives: USMLE Step 1

USMLE Step 1 Overview

Step 1 assesses whether you understand and can apply important concepts of the sciences basic to the practice of medicine, with special emphasis on principles and mechanisms underlying health, disease, and modes of therapy. Step 1 ensures m

astery of not only the sciences that provide a foundation for the safe and competent practice of medicine in the present, but also the scie

ntific principles required for maintenance of competence through lifelong learning. Step 1 is constructed according to an integrated content outline that organizes basic science material along two dimensions: system and process.


Content Description


Step 1 consists of multiple-choice questions prepared by examination committees composed of faculty members, teachers, investigators, and clinicians with recognized prominence in their respective fields. Committee members are selected to provide broad representation from the academic, practice, and licensing communities across the United States and Canada. The test is designed to measure basic science knowledge. Some questions test the examinee’s fund of information per se, but the majority of questions require the examinee to interpret graphic and tabular material, to identify gross and microscopic pathologic and no

rmal specimens, and to solve problems through application of basic science principles.

Step 1 is constructed from an integrated content outline that organizes basic science content according to general principles and individual organ systems. Test questions are classified in one of these major areas depending on whether they focus on concepts and principles that are important across organ systems or within individual organ systems.


Sections focusing on individual organ systems are subdivided according to normal and abnormal processes, principles of therapy, and psychosocial, cultural, and environmental considerations. Each examination covers content related to the traditionally defined disciplines of anatomy, behavioral sciences, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and physiol

ogy, as well as to interdisciplinary areas including genetics, aging, immunology, nutrition, and molecular and cell biology. While n

ot all topics listed in the content outline are included in every examination, overall content coverage is comparable in the various examination forms that will be taken by different examinees.

The Step 1 content outline describes the scope of the examination in detail but is not intended as a curriculum development or study guide. It provides a flexible structure for test construction that can readily accommodate new topics, emerging content domains, and shifts in emphasis. The categorizations and content coverage are subject to change. Broadly based learning that establishes a strong general understanding of concepts and principles in the basic sciences is the best preparation for the examination.


Test Question Formats

The questions are prepared by examination committees composed of faculty members, teachers, investigators, and clinicians with recognized prominence in their respective fields. Committee members are selected to provide broad representation from the academic, practice, and licensing communities across the United States and Canada.Step 1 consists of multiple choice questions with only one best answer. Each question

will be structured with a statement or question followed by three to eleven response options, each labeled with a letter (e.g: A, B, C, D, E) and arranged logically or alphabetically. Some response options will be partially correct, but only one option will be the best and correct answer. A portion of these questions will also involve the interpretaion of graphs and images.

Strategies for Answering the Test Questions

    • Read each question carefully. It is important to understand what is being asked.
  • Try to generate an answer and then look for it in the option list.
  • Alternatively, read each option carefully, eliminating those that are clearly incorrect.
  • Of the remaining options, select the one that is most correct.
  • If unsure about an answer, it is better to guess since unanswered questions are automatically counted as wrong answers.


Example Question

A 32-year-old woman with type 1 diabetes mellitus has had progressive renal failure over the past 2 years. She has not yet started dialysis. Examination shows no abnormalities. Her hemoglobin concentration is 9 g/dL, hematocrit is 28%, and mea

n corpuscular volume is 94 m3. A blood smear shows normochromic, normocytic cells. Which of the following is the most likely cause?

  • Acute blood loss
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Erythrocyte enzyme deficiency
  • Erythropoietin deficiency
  • Immunohemolysis
  • Microangiopathic hemolysis
  • Polycythemia vera
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Sideroblastic anemia
  • b-Thalassemia trait

(Answer: D)


Sequential Item Sets

A single patient-centered vignette may be associated with two or three consecutive questions about the information presented. Each question is linked to the initial patient vignette but is testing a different point. Questions are designed to be answered in sequential order. You are required to select the one best answer to each question. Other options may be partially correct, but there is only ONE BEST answer. You must click “Proceed to Next Item” to view the next item in the set; once you click on this button, you will not be able to add or change an answer to the displayed (previous) item.

How to pass Step 1 in 54 days

[twitter_follow username=”medicalce” language=”en”] Hello everyone,

I’d like to share my experience of passing Step 1 in September 2011 at my first attempt, after 54 days of revision. This may not be useful for many of you, as my sole aim was to pass the exam as I have already secured a subspecialty clinical fellowship in ophthalmology in the USA. I did not need a high score.



You may have already read my thread in this forum about passing Step 2 CS after 17 days of revision ( For those who haven’t, I am a board certified ophthalmologist in the U.K. I went to medical school in the UK, and graduated 11 years ago. I am of Asian origin and grew up in Asia. I have not done any general medicine or surgery for 10 years – only ophthalmology. I am taking the USMLEs for the reason I have highlighted in the first paragraph.



I took Step 2 CS in June 2011 and passed. I am due to take Step 2 CK shortly.



I was originally scheduled to take Step 1 just under six weeks following Step 2 CS. This was a very short period of time for the number of subjects that needed to be covered. I used the following RESOURCES:

  1. First Aid for Step 1 (2011 edition)
  2. USMLE World Qbank (2 months subscription)
  3. NBME self-assessment number 5

As I was short for time, I was forced to limit the number of books I used to just 1. I needed to be extremely focused and targeted with my revision. I agree with other forum posts about using more books for a higher score and if you have more time.




1. Days 1-37

As it’s been so many years since I did any general basic science work, I decided to revise by organ systems as this generally makes more sense to me as a practising clinician (even though I’m an ophthalmologist and not an internist or general surgeon).


Starting with the cardiovascular system in First Aid, I’d read through a chapter once (1/2 to 1 day), and then did the USMLE World Qbank questions on that system only. It was difficult trying to understand a lot of the First Aid information, as it is heavily summarised and assumes you already have an understanding of the topic from reading of other/larger texts. I took in as much as I could, and the Qbank is extremely helpful in filling in the missing links and with providing detailed explanation (e.g. of biochem pathways, etc etc). I then moved on to the next system. I would spend 3 to 5 days on each system in total. For each system, if there was a Qbank question relating to a basic science topic not covered within the …High Yield Organ Systems” topic, I’d take that opportunity to assimilate the relevant pages within the basic science …High Yield General Principles” in First Aid (e.g. embryology, microbiology, etc).


With regards to the Qbank, I used …tutor” mode only. In total, I did 1750 out of the available 2080-2100 USMLE World Qbank questions. I had the intention to go through all the questions twice, but I didn’t manage to even finish it once.


On average, I spent about 9 hours studying per day (more or less on some days as I was also doing some unrelated lab research at the time)


2. Day 38:

This was 2 days before I was originally scheduled to take Step 1. I did not feel ready, particularly as I still hadn’t revised and done the Qbanks for neurology, reproductive medicine, haematology, psychiatry and dermatology. To be certain, I took the NBME Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment Form number 5. I got a score of 270, which is equivalent to a USMLE Step 1 score of 168, i.e. a fail! I decided to postpone Step 1 by 2 weeks.


3. Days 39-47:

I revised the rest of the topics I hadn’t covered as listed above.


4. Days 48-53:

I read through most of First Aid for the second time – most the Organ Systems chapters, and some of the High Yield General Principles (basic science) chapters.

I would recommend giving yourself at least 2 days more than I had done (I ran out of time) to read through First Aid again – I had to skim through some sections quicker and less thorough than I would’ve liked (e.g microbiology), and did not read some chapters again at all (e.g. embryology, psychiatry)


5. Day 54:

I read through Rapid Review and High Yield Images (in First Aid). This was very useful. This was my first time reading the Rapid Review section, and I wish I had done it once previously.


6. Breaks:

I took 3 full days off completely in those 54 days – days 6, 12 and 32.




I took Step 1 in August 2011.

This was undoubtedly the most unprepared I had ever been for an exam. I thought the questions were as tough as, if not tougher than the USMLE World Qbank. I managed to just about finish answering all questions in each of the 7 one hour blocks. However, for 2 or 3 of the blocks, I did not have time to go over any of the questions I had ‘marked’ for my own review. Time was extremely tight, and I wish I had practised a few timed blocks in USMLE World – the only one I had done was the NBME self assessment (which I failed 2 weeks prior).

This was an absolutely brutal exam, largely because I should’ve been better prepared. There were many questions with which I had absolutely no idea, and just had to guess. After the exam, I was certain I had failed and thus began planning towards to a re-sit.

To my delight and surprise, I passed Step 1 last week!



Step 1 is an extremely tough exam for those of us who’ve been out of medical school for a few years. However, it’s not rocket science. It simply requires a dedicated amount of time to acquire and retain the knowledge. The syllabus for Step 1 is clear, and there are ample resources. You need to streamline your resources based upon the score you’re aiming for. If your aim is simply to pass, then I am certain the limited resources and plan I used described above will suffice. If however, your plan is to get a high score (as would be the case for most of you), then you need to read around the subject more, add notes to First Aid and revise through that, and do more questions.

I hope everyone who’s about to embark upon Step 1 can glean something useful from my experience. Specifically, regardless of what score you are aiming towards, you can at least be confident of pass with less than 2 months of solid and very focused studying. You can then extrapolate how much extra time you’d need to get a high score.

Good luck![related_posts]

USMLE Step 1 Complete Guide


USMLE Step 1 Complete Guideusmle step 1


Step 1 – Studying:


I often get asked about how I prepared myself for Step1 of the USMLE test. What I usually say in response is that it is crucial that you have a particular score in mind before you begin studying. Personally, I was aiming for a score at least above the national mean. Even if I’m not American, I was educated in an American medical school and I’m well aware of how competitive things tend to get when it comes to the USMLE score.


I have to warn you right here and now that I’m not a professional advisor who will lay before you all the tips and tricks required to ace the USMLE Step 1 test. I’m merely here to relay my personal experience, which may hopefully be of some benefit to future candidates.


For all medical students out there, if you’re planning on taking Step 1 at any time in the future, my advice to you would be to work as hard as you can while you’re still a student. Step 1 is not the sort of test that assesses your ability to memorize vast amounts of information but it simply aims at assessing how well you understand what you’ve learnt.

There’s a lot of information to digest but with adequate preparation, you’ll find yourself sailing smoothly through the test questions. Information you need to know includes disease mechanisms and pathophysiologies as well as different clinical and laboratory findings that sometimes may be the only key to solving some of the trickier test questions.


However, you must always keep in mind that not all medial students are created equal. Meaning that what works for one USMLE candidate may not work for another. I personally started to study about four weeks before the exam at an average rate of about eight hours a day. I had my ups and downs, of course and some days were better than others. This worked out nicely for me and I’m just your run-of-the-mill medical student and not some braniac at work. Overall, I found that the following resources worked the best for me:


  1. First Aid for Step 1: A great book full of high-yield goodies to help you get through the test. However, take care because it’s rather abbreviated and while it can help you, it can’t carry you through the test all on its own. I made up for its shortcomings by adding my own notes while studying for some of the core-subjects in Step 1 during medical school (pharmacology, pathology, immunology, etc). So when the time came to actually prepare for Step 1, most of the deficiencies of First Aid were made up for by my own notes. I only revisited the book when needed and spent the precious last few days before the exam burning as many bits of information as possible into my mind.


  1. Robbins Review of Pathology Question Book: To make a long story short, this is not an easy question book. The questions are actually harder than the ones you’re faced with during the test. However, the question structure and the approach required for correct problem solving are similar to of the actual test. A high-yield book that focuses on the heavily tested subjects of Pathology and Pathophysiology.



  1. BRS Pathology: One of my favorite books. It’s suitable for use along with your pathology course in medical school. It covers everything but questions are a bit on the easy side.


  1. BRS Physiology: A great book to sum up all you should know about disease mechanisms and pathophysiologies, which you should have a thorough understanding of before sitting for the Step 1 test. I personally remember being caught up between quite a few ‘up/down’ arrow questions in everything ranging from basic endocrinology to aspects of acid-base balance.

You must also realize that Step 1 will throw at you a variety of CVS and pulmonary graph representation which you need to have an excellent understanding of as well as all the basic physiological formulae and calculations of the body, in addition to pharmacokinetic formulae.


  1. Medical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple: Knowledge of basic lab tests for common microorganisms in addition to viral characteristics is expected of you when entering the Step 1 test. This is a high-yield book particularly for viruses which are popular subjects for test questions. Fungi and parasites while slightly less popular, can still pop up in the test every now and then.

You have to know the pharmacological aspects as well because the question stem maybe talking about a microorganism and the symptoms it causes, only to ask you about the suitable antibiotic used for treatment.


  1. Kaplan Pharmacology Lecture Notes: All I can do is sing his book’s praises. A high-yield book that covers all the pharmacology information you need for the test.


  1. Kaplan Biochemistry and Genetics Lecture Notes: You must know the following in Biochemistry if you expect to get the score you want:

–          Main enzymes and rate-limiting steps of the different inborn errors of metabolism.

–          All the major metabolic cycles and processes such as the TCA cycle, the Urea Cycle, Glycolysis, the electron transport system and its shuttles, fatty acid synthesis etc.

–          Vitamins; the enzymes that use them, the symptoms of their deficiencies.

–          Basic molecular biology questions which are manageable for any average medical student.

–          Diagnostic tests such as PCR, Southern and Western Blot techniques in addition to a basic knowledge of immunoassays, Fluorescence-activated cell sorting and Fluorescent immuostains.

–          Hardy-Weinberg problems have been known to pop up. Major hereditary diseases and their modes of inheritance (autosomal, sex-linked, dominant, recessive, etc.) are required knowledge.


  1. Kaplan Anatomy and Embryology Lecture Notes:  Anatomy here is intermingled with Physiology. The book may describe the clinical presentation of a patient in the ER and based on the information provided, you’ll have to determine which organ of the body has been injured or at which anatomical level. This is in addition to radiological presentations in the form of MRIs or CTs (particularly head CTs). The neurology section of this book is nothing short of amazing and provides you with crucial knowledge needed for the test including, but not limited to the following:


–          Nuclei levels in the spinal cord and brain stem as well as the different nuclei lesions and symptoms, even those that are not common such as Multiple Sclerosis, Syringomyelia, etc.

–          Spinal cord nerve tracts and cranial nerve signs.

–          The Brachial Plexus, which is extremely high-yield and its Anatomy, should be known by heart in addition to all its lesions and their symptoms.


In Embryology, focus on pharyngeal pouches and the related developmental malformations. If you were never a fan of Embryology and all the memorization that comes with it like me, simply solving its questions is sufficient to get you through.


  1. Kaplan Q Bank: Is not suitably reflective and may be a little behind the times. However, it gives you a good idea about the structure and length of the questions in the Step 1 test. Question modes may range from A-D to A-K and not just the common A-E form. Emphasis when solving these questions should always be placed on proper understanding rather than the score. Try to solve them using all three modes; timed, unused and mixed.
  2. USMLEWORLD: Second and third-order questions here are pretty representative of what goes on during the Step 1 test with regards to the though process involved. Many tricks are usually planted here and there in the question stem that you need to learn how to spot and use to your advantage. Explanations here are more up-to-date compared to Kaplan. Question stems are however a bit short and not like those in the actual test at all. This may cause you a bit of an unpleasant surprise when sitting for the test.

Something that may be a bit of a nuisance is the frequency of spelling mistakes and typos on here.

The USMLEWORLD computer interface is nearly identical to that of Step1 but that’s really not much of an advantage.

It’s an overall good question bank and as always, you must focus on learning rather than scoring. Add your own notes when the occasion calls for it (i.e. something new surprises you) and solve as many questions in different modes as often as you can and you’ll be well-prepared come test time.


In the end, I wish everyone reading this the very best of luck!


How to score 99 in USMLE Step 1


How to score 99 in USMLE Step 1


Hello there,
I just couldn’t wait to tell you this. I just finished my USMLE Step I and finished with a score of 99! I just couldn’t believe it but I’d say the I was impressed and proud. I just patted myself on my back.
I saved up a little nest egg and then I quit my situation as a salesman and decided to study from home. Though I ensured that I had a lot of study material, I’d always place my bet on Kaplan; you just can’t get any better stuff.
I had intended to and set my goal for a modest 85%, but when I bagged 99% I couldn’t believe myself. When my pals from back home asked me how I managed to pull it off, I gave them the following tips which I’m also passing on to you.

The most important thing is to have good source material. Without it, there is no way you can learn anything that matters for the examination.
You also have to get focused on the subject of your study. Ensure that you are in the right studying conditions.
Define your goals. If you feel that you should really score and get around 90% pass marks then you can do it, the possibility is there. However, if you just want to get through, that possibility is also there. It’s your choice.
Determination is of prime importance. Every time you get down to study, you’ve to buck up and put in your best efforts so that you can get the best score that you could possibly get.
So here are the tips that I want to pass along. I want you to make sure that you have good study material. These are the things that made me get the score I got, the stuff that gave me success.

It is essential that you get your hand on all the video lecture material from the Kaplan preparation center. That’s about 194 hours of study material if you go by the May 2005 edition. This is the focus of my success.
What is most important are the 2002 unmarked edition of the Kaplan notes. Scan it into your hard disk. These will be the review material that you should go through just prior to the examination. It shouldn’t take you more than a day to review each subject.
A complete understanding of the clinical applications is necessary and for this you need the complete underground vignettes of the clinical applications. I discovered that when doing Step I of the exam that I was able to scan the questions at such a speed that even before I reached the end I knew what they were.

Knowing about Dr. Goljan, pathology’s father, while preparing for Step I is all that is necessary to get a high score. You will require the notes, the pathology slides and the high yield facts of Dr. Goljan. You can find them on the hard disc.
There was no shortage of pictures or slides for me to see when I took my test. Kaplan’s Pathology library where everything is organized according to the systems of the body is worth its weight in gold.
Kaplan’s Webpreparation is another valuable asset but it lacks anything in anatomy.
You should be aware of the fact that pharmacology along with genetics and pathology are essential. The live Kaplan lectures on these subjects are the best you can get. Not only did I score a 99 but a pal of mine scored a 94 using these material. I can safely say that the material has proved its worth.
There is a saying that you cannot get enough of a good thing and the CD with an excess of 3,500 questions on pathology alone is just that. Constant reviewing planted them firmly in my brain.
What I had learned about high yield topics and facts that I compiles included my own tips. This is the information that I had obtained from the test I underwent. I managed to write down some 2,500+ topics and tips within the first week of my taking the examination.
You’ll agree with me when you get the Kaplan Qbank that is easy to use and is available in the Microsoft Word format.

Next to the Kaplan is the 6th edition of the NMS software Step I.
A fast review is what that is necessary. You’d need a complete set of the CDs to do a complete review. The questions, 3,500 of them, have been arranged on the basis of topics.
Make sure you get the Kaplan IV bank also.
Biochemistry, Neuroscience, Pathology and undoubtedly Genetics are all necessary and you should get the pre-exam books on these topics.
Some 10,000 questions have been compiled by other students and they are what you should study if you are unsure of what to study.

Keep in mind the Step I Board Simulator software.
Some of the facts are really difficult to remember and the use of mnemonics should make the job of remembering such facts simple.
Similarly, visual aids are very important and during my 9 months of study, I managed to prepare different diagrams, flash cards and charts.
One of the problems of studying is that you reach a point where you feel that you just cannot absorb anymore knowledge. The 55 Gold Standard Audio Review CDs make their mark. You get a different mode of study and as they say “change is as good as a rest”.
I can definitely say that I added at least 5 marks to my score using the Pass Program notes. There are some 299 tips in these notes along with highlights and high yields. I completed them in just four day and it was definitely worth the while.

Additionally, there are some extra stuff that I prepared. Some even after I wrote my examination till the time I got my results
Anyway, I thought I’d pass all of this along to you.

Experiencing The USMLE STEP 1

I am very happy. I just received my IMG score. I wanted to give my advice, the advice that I wished I had received before I began studying for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). But this is the rough outline of the way I would prepare for the exam.

1. You will require three to six months preparation time depending on your current level of your studies. If you know your pharmacology, pathology and microbiology, then three months should be sufficient. If not then you’d need nearer to six months. You would need lesser time if you are going to medical school in the United States.

2. Start by going through the A rated books on FA (physiology, BRS pathology etc.) Ensure that you understand everything; when I say “understand”, I really mean “understand”. This examination really tests your understanding. Just learning the facts is not sufficient.

3. As you study and understand each subject –

  1. Annotate your First Aid book so that you can understand every fact in it clearly. On its own, first aid is not interesting and unless you read it over and over again during the last two to four weeks you cannot prepare for the exam efficiently. You should be so familiar with the subject that you should be able to review it completely in just one day.
  2. The record of all the topics given at the beginning of each of the chapters is of great use it is advisable to cover all of them at the very first time that you read it.
  3. Make a note of those subjects that seem to be theoretically difficult. This will be helpful when you revise  so that you can go straight to the topic. It is important as revising for this exam is tiresome and boring. When you revise, do the difficult subjects first so that at the end of the day you can concentrate on the easier subject. It is difficult to read about epilepsy management, anti-cancer drugs and renal pathology when you are tired.
  4. See that you are strong in those areas in first aid that are important – microbiology, endocrinology, autonomic pharmacology etc.

4. Once you have finished reading all the subjects, I would attempt all the Board Simulator questions and or the questions, subject by subject. This will reinforce your knowledge. As far as I am concerned, these questions are good for teaching purposes by not good from the point of view of the exams as they are too choosy. You should do it only because the analysis of your answers is automatic.

5. If you have finished the questions then you should check out those areas in which you are weak. No point in doing a repeat on those subjects that you are well versed in. Focus on the subjects that you are weak in. Use the results of your analysis of your answers and the notes that I told you to make previously. This is more essential, especially if you happen to be weak in those subjects that will give you a better score. Don’t waste your precious time on subjects in which you will probably get only one question, the one question that you’ll probably get wrong. Some four months would have gone past by the time you get to this point. From this point onwards use “kaplan qbank” and shift your focus to all areas. That should leave you some two more months to prepare. Read a couple of subjects more for the next three days or so, for example, behavioral science and microbiology and then repeat the qbank questions. Do this again and again until you have completed all the subjects and all the questions in qbank. This should take another month. Leave the last month for a complete review, concentrating on the weak areas. You should be able to review FA in a day with the exception of pathology, perhaps.

Some General Points For Study : Learn the subjects from a clinical angle. You have to be strong in pathology because one of USMLE’s favorite question id to ask you to describe a disease and then quiz you about its immunology, pharmacology, microbiology etc. If you haven’t studied your pathology, you’re bound to get stuck. No point in looking up the previous questions that have been asked or the question that others have been asked. They are all different. FA is a better guide. And don’t go about comparing your scores with those of others; your standard of preparation will be different from theirs. Focus on your scores and they will gradually rise to the place where you want them to be. Do your practice questions a couple of weeks before the actual examination so that you will have time to rectify your mistakes.

Make an attempt to score some 70% and above in realistic examination standard questions. Kaplan simulated USMLE exam CDs would be the best for practice. Though there is no guarantee to success, scoring 70% in the Random Tests should do the trick. To my opinion, anatomy is the least important simply because there is so much to study. Keep in mind that each individuals exam is different and everyone gets a bombshell to blast them out of the exams. Frankly, mine was in molecular biology. So many questions! If there is any subject that you intend to gloss over, make it anatomy. From what I can make out, that is the subject that is not likely to come up with many questions. There is also ne necessity to look at too many slides in histopathology. You can make out most of the histopathology slides just by looking at them.

What I am now imparting to you is an improved version of the study methodology that I followed. I did not prepare as well as I have advised you to. Make alterations to this pattern of study to suit your temperament and your time schedule. But on the whole I believe this will be useful. That is Understand FA. Answer a lot of test questions. Put your focus on weak areas! Do Not Give Up!

The scores that you should aim are :

ü  Qbank 69% (a month prior to the real exam)

ü  USMLE CD    39 to 45%

ü  Kaplan Simulator CD 73% ( a week prior to the actual exam)

ü  Books to read up : BRS Pathology / Physiology / Behavioral Sciences(BRS pathology is the best), Microbiology Made Simple(the best), Lippincott’s Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Immunology and FA for all subjects.

If I think of anything else, I’ll post it. Bye for now and Good Luck.


see also


10 steps to USMLE Step 1

USMLE Step 1 Tips

7 reasons make you fail in usmle step 1

how to study for usmle step 1 exam

USMLE Step 1 exam misconceptions


usmle step 1


I just got through my United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 and here are the experiences and the lessons I learnt for whatever it worth to you.

1. Covered the FA from cover to cover and jotted down lots and lots of notes from it. In those subjects that I was weak in I spent more time reviewing matter from other sources.

2. In spite of the fact that my main source of study was the FA, I read and studied several other books also. If u can get it and go through it, Lippincott’s Biochemistry is worth its weight in gold. I could complete it in about 5 to 6 weeks and it was worth every second. If you really studied that book, there’s nothing that they can ask you about biochemistry that you cannot answer. Additionally, it gives you mechanisms. This makes the learning a lot more easier. At least it did for me. The heavier Robbins will do you a whole lot of good as a reference book for pathology. It is quite impractical to go through the book.

3. Physiology was one subject that I went through in depth. As I was weak in Renal and Pulmonary physiology, I started from the basics and then applied what I had learnt to the disease process. ICU books are extremely helpful in that they lay thread bare the basics of physiology in relation to disease.

4. Answered some twenty plus practice questions daily for the first three weeks of my study. During the last 2½ weeks I was doing 200+ questions daily, randomly. I also reviewed in detail each and every question, whether I had got it right or wrong. This reinforced the material that I had already studied. The source of my questions was the Kaplan QBank.

5. I did have some doubts about the Kaplan QBank. You see, the exam questions aren’t as detailed as they are in QBank. But if you study them in depth you’ll really learn the subject. I went through practically 95% of the questions and I was scoring a decent 74% overall and that too in the random timed mode; not just the review mode. Doing it in the tutor mode might have got some people some good scores, but that isn’t like the real examination.

6. Review, Review and Review again. You should reserve at least one day per week for reviewing what you had studied previously. It did it at the end of each study day, one FA section per day. This helped me go through my annotated version of the FA foe more than a couple of times before I went for the examination. When reviewing, don’t skip anything. If you really take a closer look, you’ll find that there is more than what you thought there was and some more. You learn something more and you also get a deeper understanding of the subject.

7. Did one of the NBME examinations just a day prior to the examination and then rested the rest of the day. I got my predicted score of 251. I gave a sigh of relief and I gained more confidence to go to the real examination.

8. Studied for a total of six plus weeks. Sat for the examination in the middle of February. The scores came up three weeks later. Scored 258/99. Patted myself on the back!

I’d highly recommend getting First Aid (FA) and reading it in the first and early second years. Take notes and annotate it so that when you come to the time for reviewing you have everything pat and ready for you. Makes life easier.

see also

USMLE Step 1 Tips

10 steps to USMLE Step 1

7 reasons make you fail in usmle step 1

how to study for usmle step 1 exam

USMLE Step 1 exam misconceptions

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