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 My step 1 experience: 99/266  

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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!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask….
My two cents……


First of all congratulations,

Secondly, if you dont mind i would like to ask you a few question:

You used basically the same materials that others are using all around the world but still they dont get these extremely high scores. So where is the problem, are they not using these materials effectively enough or you already had a very good education? Are you already very familiar with the text books before you started preparing for the boards?

In your opinion can some one with a really weak educational background get a high score with the exact same review books and prep. time? ( i dont think so ) ... What do you advise?


Those of you whom trust me, I assure you that samisaf's scores are authentic.

Edited by praying4a99 on Aug 09, 2007 - 10:13 AM


Thanks for sharing your experience.





amazing experince and score
congratulations and thanks for sharing with us..
my q is : do u recomand reviewing the books for a 2nd time or doing questions and reading their explanation for review ?

i'm kind of planning the second coz it's working better with me , i'm dong UW and using tht explanation with 1st aid as reveiw and refering to book only if i forgot something
what do u think ?



I really have to hand it u Dude( Sami) Wow Great Story Line. 2.5 Mnths eh ..... freaking Genius Wow

But I totally Agree With PRaying > Dude u r totally right.

This is all a Big BS..... But PArty on Guys


- I think the USMLE states it right when they say that a solid background in medical education acquired over the years one spends at medical school is the basis for a high score in the USMLE exams. Yes, I think I read a lot when I was taking the basic courses at my school, not the same books, I used to read larger books(Lippincot's, Guyton physio...)
- I am an IMG, so I took the test on my last year. A disadvantage, because I forgot most of the basic stuff, but a bigger advantage because I knew all of the clinical stuff.
- May be some luck…also


"Prosperity" not luck!

Luck only favors the well prepared.


I think your plan is very resonable if your time is limited.
I think understanding first aid + questions gets you a high score

good luck


It is absolute COMMON SENSE. If you just need the USMLE prep material to score great in the test, then why do you need 5.5 years to do medicine, in the first place. You could just spend 6 months mugging up the prep material. Don't get elated/infuriated or anything, people. Sami honestly agrees that he did great during those 5.5 years of his medschool. That definitely takes a significant credit of his high score. Congrats, Sami!!!!


would u plz answer me for these qs:
u said " I took the test on my last year. A disadvantage, because I forgot most of the basic stuff, but a bigger advantage because I knew all of the clinical stuff. "
i'm a student in the preclinical years and i'm planning to do the exam during my studying and before getting the clinical stuff
so, what do u think its more better to do go on or wait ?
if go on, how do u think i can compensate for the clinical stuff ? "just by mastering the same materials or what" ..


The tiger
It all depends on how you feel. You can test yourself and see how well you are prepared.
As I said they tend to ask a lot of clinical stuff nowadays, but you can compenstae if you read mini casses or vignettes. First aid has now an excellent new case book for step one, that you can read.

Good luck on your study


great score..
Thanx fr a nice experience..


congratulations, great score, 266/99 in 6 months prep!!!!!! can u tell us where u graduated from? those from carribean can do it in 6 weeks while others esp those with language problems, take upto a year.

i'd like to know how heavily biochem n pharma are tested in the exam? coz memorisation is the key, which is a tough part. were kaplan notes sufficient?

thanx, gl


Congrats !!! Amazing score. Good luck with the next steps smiling face


Conratulations!!! A gr8888888888888888 score !!!nod
i want to know how many times u did UW ? THe sore you have given is of first attempt of UW? Also did u took of UW and how did you studied it? i mean tutor or timed/ topicwise or mixed?


BRAVO! CONGRATS & GL for the next examsmiling facesmiling face


congratulations sami!!!great scores!!thanks for sharing,appreciate it!!!!!i also agree strong foundation during med school does help in long run..,but we do need revisions,!!!good luck on next step!!!!


wow, the score that dreams are made of. congrats, and repeat this performance in 2ck too. good luck!


I think people have mixed experience when it comes to the emphasis on the different subjects on the test.
I would say that I had very little pharm on my test, and the questions weren’t very difficult.
I think I had more questions in biochem. Again, not that complicated.
My impression is that you have to memorize, but the test doesn’t need super memorization. And a good question bank guides you to the most commonly tested ideas.
I used to read a lot while in med school, and that helped me a lot preparing in a reasonable period of time.
I did UW during my second reading, I did mixed 50 questions timed blocks(mimicking the actual test). The score I gave is the percentage of correct questions I got during the first attempt 77%. I didn’t do a second full attempt. I just went through the questions I marked and the questions I did wrong in the first time.
But I think the important thing is to read the explanation, and to write down the important ideas of first aid.
I totally agree with you, unfortunately paper exams need a special preparation that is often not very useful in the real life( I don’t know if Krebs cycle will ever be of use to me!), but anyway, it is a step that all of us have to go through.
Other posters:
Thanks all for your nice feelings

Edited by samisaf on Aug 12, 2007 - 12:34 AM

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