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 My step 1 experience: 99/266

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PostSubject: My step 1 experience: 99/266    Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:58 pm

Hello guys,
Now it is time to share you with my test experience, I am not a very good writer but I will do my best. I will organize this post in 4 parts:
1. A description of my preparation experience
2. A list of my study materials.
3. A list of the question banks I used, and my scores in them.
4. My own advices for test preparation.

Ok, let’s begin, I am an IMG planning to do residency in the states. I began preparation for my step 1 exam early December 2006, I took the test on June 18th, so I studied for about 6 months and a half.
This time was divided into 3 parts. I went through the study materials in each of them as it follows:
1. The first part(about 2.5 months): I went through all the books I decided to read completely, and fast. My reading was subject based, so each block took me about 8-14 days to go through. I didn’t memorize a lot. My goal was to get an overall idea about the subjects, to take simple notes, and to go through ALL the books I decided to read. After finishing all the books, I went through first aid in the same way(fast scanning reading). When I finished, I did the sample CD, and my score was about 84%.
2. The second part(also about 2.5 months): Again, I went through all the materials, subject based. Every block took about 10-14 days to complete, but this time, I did more memorization, and at the end of every block, I read the corresponding first aid chapter(s), and I wrote a lot of notes on it from the study book that I would have just finished. Also, I did Kaplan Qbook, it was subject wise divided, so I used to read the corresponding questions for the subject that I would have just finished reading. I also began solving the usmle world questions, and I did mixed questions in 50 q blocks in order to get a feel of the real exam. I also did the first NBME form, and I’ve got 770(=261), so I knew that I was in a very good shape.
3. The third part(about 1 month): By that time, I had my first aid with a lot of notes on it, my study materials highlighted, and the questions I did wrong on qbook marked. So I went through first aid, read all of it, and then skimmed my study materials, the marked questions on Kaplan Qbook, I completed all the UW questions with final percentage of 77%. I finished all of these, and I still had about 9 days, during which I just was going through first aid, I also did the sample CD and got 94% of the questions, and the NBME form 3, and I got 800(>265).
4. So this is it, I took the test on June 18th, my score was reported on July 18th, and my final score was 99/266.

My study materials: (HY=high yield, BRS=board review series)
1. Anatomy, Neruoanatomy, Histology, Cell biology, & Embryology: Kaplan notes. I tired to read HY gross anatomy, and neuroanatomy, but I found them too much detailed, so I left them (I did retained some of the information from them though).
2. Biochemistry, Genetics: Kaplan notes.
3. Behavioral science & Biostatistics: HY behavioral sciences, it has also excellent chapters at the end summarizing biostatistics(I read HY biostatistics only once during my first reading).
4. Physiology: BRS.
5. Pathology: BRS.
6. Pharmacology: Kaplan notes + pharmcards(but I think this was too much, either one is more than enough since pharm is well written in first aid).
7. Microbiology & immunology: HY microbiology + HY immunology.

The questions I did: (UW=usmle world, NBME=national board of medical examiners)
1. NBME form 1: 770(=263)
2. NBME form 3: 800(>265)
3. UW 77%: (One equation I found on the internet was that your 3 digit score would be your (UW percentage*2.3 +84). Mine was 261… pretty close).
4. Kaplan Qbook: 84%
5. USMLE Sample CD: 88% (As I said, I did the questions twice, 84% first time, 94% second time, so I put the average here)
6. To my delight, my final score was 99/266.

My own advice to you:
1. put a plan and stick to it: ask your friends, see internet forums, get advice, but once you have a reasonable plan, you have to stick to it.
2. don’t get lost in study materials: decide what you want to read. I know it is often difficult, but reading one study material several times is better than reading several books one time. Don’t worry that the book you are reading lacks information because they rarely ask about very detailed info, and because you will get a lot of information from the questions you do.
3. choose a good question bank: I found UW the best, the questions are difficult than the real test, but they are a very useful study tool. Kaplan Qbook is excellent too. Also, be sure to READ the EXPLANATIONS for the questions you got wrong, and mark them, so that you do them a second time.
4. Relax on your test day: it is very important not to loose focus. You will get some weird stuff on your test(in one block I marked about 23 questions!). Make your best guess and move on.
5. Keep your eye on the clock, pace yourself while preparation, some blocks are really long, so prepare yourself.
6. If I did it, then you can do it!
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