USMLE Step 1 Experience (262) by Rizwan Zafar

Step 1 (262) by Rizwan Zafar

I am writing this experience because I think it might help others avoid the mistakes I made during my preparation. I started preparing for step 1 after my final year result was declared, and I took a long time preparing for it. I did all  subjects from kaplan except pathology, for which i did goljan and it was a big mistake as it took me more than 3 months to complete it along with my medicine rotation and in the end I almost retained none of it. I hadn't completed my first read until the end of my 3rd rotation of house job i.e 9 months for the first read with house job.  I read every subject from kaplan(except patho) along with video lectures for most subjects followed by relevant First aid portion after each subject. For patho I did goljan along with its lectures followed by first aid of patho.

           Then I  left my last rotation of house job in view of speeding up the things a bit (no use at all) only to resume it 4 months later. I did the 2nd read slowly (yeah, even slower than the first one). I used to do every subject from kaplan then First aid, then offline Uworld. After Uworld of each subject, I used to do kaplan and First aid again very quickly, knowing that I would not turn to kaplan again. For patho I did pathoma with lectures, then first aid then Uworld, then pathoma and F.A again. I used to note the questions from uworld which i did wrong, or found difficult.I also noted important points on F.A. 2nd read took a long time but i was confident that this time was not wasted(unlike first read and that goljan thing).
         After 2nd read I did  First aid comprehensively, trying to memorize all the notes I took from uworld, Took me about 20 days. Then i did uworld offline again. I tried to do all the questions and read explanations of the ones noted in 2nd read but really for most of the subjects I had to do the selected questions only. After this, I got the most awesome and fastest study partner one could have. Although we only did one read of F.A and a few NBMEs together, it was very important for me to summarize all I had read. He also made up for what i lacked from not doing online uworld, and he also told me clinically relevant important points. I cant thank him enough.
                   After this read I had the exam coming up about 10 days later, I tried to study F.A quickly again with mixed success. I stopped studying one day prior to the exam.

 On the exam day I was fairly relaxed and confident even though I had managed only a four hour sleep in the night. I had my expectations, yes, but I also knew I would see many questions beyond my scope. The first block was a bit difficult but I thought I should at least get the easier ones right and move on. I did that block, like most others, 10 mins before time and concentrated on the marked ones. Most of them ultimately made sense and I was satisfied after this block. I found most of the other blocks easier than the first block, and most of the NBMEs. I took break after every block, tried not to lose concentration, had a red bull drink midway through the exam, and told myself this will be over soon. and before long I was walking out of the prometric with a sense of satisfaction in my heart and chocolate of a random person in my hand which i mistakenly took for mine and I confess this online and I apologize for my mistake Mr/Ms Choclate's owner. if you know that person please let him know so I have satisfaction in my heart.
                This is only my experience and I would not expect anyone to follow the way i studied, but rather to take what suits him/her out of this experience, and of course I cant guide anyone but I can only try to help.

       To summarize all

Resources used
  • Kaplan with video lectures except pathology (i read them twice, and I think microbiology should be done from kaplan in all of the reads one gives to kaplan, and lectures were v. helpful)
  • Pathoma with lectures (did it only once)
  • Uworld (did offline only, twice)
  • 100 cases of ethics by Conrad
  • First aid (most heavily used book, and i found it extremely helpful, it covered most of the topics i saw on the exam)
  • High yield biostats(not helpful, kaplan plus uworld is enough for biostats)
  • Goljan(very lengthy and hard to retain, pathoma is more than cool for step 1, but goljan's lectures are good and helpful, i didn't do the slides)

Assessment exams

I didn't take any online NBME, i did NBME 3 after my 3rd first aid read, during our combined study  , we did NBME 5, 13 and 15 together by discussing the MCQs. I took NBME 7 offline for assessment, got my estimated score to be 260+ although there was no reliable key, i also solved NBME 11, and i think all forms from 7 to 16 should be attempted, I also did FRED to familiarize myself with the interface used in computer based test as i had taken none of the online exams.

Things I did right
  • A slow and comprehensive 2nd read
  • used First aid as the primary source
  • got myself a cool study partner, for the terminal revision, discussed first aid with him
  • listened to the lectures videos by kaplan( especially by Dr. Lionel Raymon, Dr.Steven Daugherty and, of course, Dr. Conrad)
Things I did wrong
  • A slow first read (i think 3 months are the maximum time that should be given to it)
  • tried goljan for patho (i have got nothing against the book, its an excellent review but time taking)
  • took many breaks, which decreased my momentum
  • took a break in my house job

      It isn't easy especially when you take a break and then get anxious over all the time wasted. But i had the best group of friends one can have. My family supported me, esp my Dad, no matter how long i took for preparation. Yes, i got a bit lucky, and got more than what I deserved. I couldnt have done this without the support i got from my family and friends, I cant thank them enough.

            Again, it's only my experience and I can't guide anyone but try to help, for I am myself a student. I hope this helps anyone. Stay cool.



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