Step 1 Preparation and Experience USMLE Preparation and Experience

The First Step Towards Residency – Ejlal Ali

USMLE Step 1 score – 250

This post meant to be motivational. My target was 240+. First I started by identifying my weak points on a personal level and tried to put a solution for each one. I found multiple comorbidities.

Graduated in 2006

I thought this is a weakness at the beginning but it turned out to be a strength; because some questions I answered them were possible due to my clinical experiences, so if you are an old graduate, don’t worry, you will need just more effort.

Have a zero byte memory

I spent almost half of my life searching for my car in parking lots, so you can’t be worse. So, what I did for my study was to use sketchy pharm and Micro, draw my own sketches, add an emotional tag to some topics by linking them to something funny or fight over a concept with a friend.

Slow Reader

I gave myself longer time – 9 months full time.

Facebook Addict

I joined a Facebook group – USMLE Step 1 Preparation Forum. I was very active in this group – liking its posts, and taking part in the discussions. Basically, my time in Facebook got added to my study-time; discussions I had in this forum filled the gaps in my information (thank you Tetyana Aerus), really thank you all in USMLE Step 1 Preparation Forum and to my friends in USMLE 260+, it’s a huge source of information and motivation.

General Advice

1. I think First Aid is enough if you are a 4th year student who is already reading from the school textbooks, but if you don’t know if Kluver-Bucy is a disease or a kitten breed, like I used to be in the first week of study, then First Aid is not enough (plz don’t chew my hair, that’s my personal belief 😂) 2. Don’t start NBME before covering all the subjects. 3. DO All NBME and go over wrong answers. 4. Memorizing may make you pass but high scores need a deep understanding. 5. if you planning to study with Dr. Najeeb, make sure you have enough time because it is time-consuming but worth it. make sure to write your notes so you don’t have to return to the videos can speed up videos. 6. Get your first Aid early as possible, link all your reads with the FA, annotate when you find new information especially from UW 7. personalize every plan to fit your own study style and personality. 8. If you are someone who can commit to a schedule, I recommend Zamzam schedule for you. 9. stay positive, if you have someone who tells you, “you can’t do it”, go ahead and get a restraining order or lock them in the basement till it is done, it is that serious. 10. Pray to whoever you believe in, it will keep you sane during the process. 11. If you have bad results in NBME right now remember it is NOT your final test Report, it is just a station you have to pass through before you approach your goal, just make sure not to move backward. 12. everyone thinks of quitting in the process. It is OK to cry, I cried more than I did in my first 3 years of life, but just keep moving while you are doing so.

Study Materials

1. I started with Neuroanatomy because I hate it most (start with Dr. Najeeb because I was weak on this subject also did Dr. Najeeb for Histology and molecular biology )- Kaplan 2014 book and videos for all anatomy (Anatomy in the exam was easy so don’t waste your time in low yield stuff). 2. Then Biochemistry- Kaplan 2014 book and videos ( I did Kaplan Qbank for Genetics). 3. Then Physiology -Kaplan 2014 book and videos ( Dr. Najeeb for some confusing concepts). 4. I subscribed UW for 6months (the best thing I did), start choosing only the Anatomy, Bio and physiology questions from the question pool) while studying Micro, I was doing a block every 2 days from UW, adding every subject I completed as I go. 5. Micro (I was watching the sketch 2 times, read from Kaplan’s book and then revise by watching Kaplan’s Videos. Immunity is much better in 2010 videos). 6. Then did the pathology from Kaplan 2014 book and videos. 7. Pharmacology from sketchy first then Kaplan 2014 book and videos. 8. Behavioral science and statistics- Kaplan 2010 book and videos and UW biostatics. 9. Then I did all NBME, the first one I did was NBME-17; I got 244, and the offline was in the same range, then I completed UW once (the first mistake, do it twice), took the UWSA 1= 256; I didn’t cover the systemic chapters in FA by this time (that was the 2nd mistake), so I started revising using Goljan, Pathoma videos, and FA. 10. I studied Goljan in 2 months (3rd mistake), although I felt being a better doctor after Goljan, but my scores didn’t increase that much, it is much better going through Pathoma twice than doing Goljan once, Pathoma videos helped me a lot in understanding slides. 11. Then I did Kaplan Q bank behavioral and statistics because it was my weakest area and had no idea how to improve it, and it really improved, NBME-18 242, NBME-19 244, USWA-2 258 (2 days before the exam).

Exam Day

Slept for 5 hours; I worked on my circadian rhythm for 2 weeks for this to happen (this is the 2nd best thing I did). I was nervous but I had come to the term that I did my best, worked hard and I will be content no matter what happens. I knew Allah will take care of me and that made me relaxed so I did better on the exam than usual (250) although I wasn’t feeling so after the exam. The last thing DON’T rush to the exam unless you are well prepared and DO FA and UW twice. If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comment. Good luck.


Dr. Ejlal Ali

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