Important Post


By Unknown - Wednesday, May 18, 2011 No Comments

Summary of My USMLE Step 1 Journey
First off, I would like to thanks all USMLE forum staffs for their great effort answering my questions and maintaining this great forum. I have come acrossed many similar forums in the past, yet I end up becoming a loyal member here.

My Background
Few lines to describe myself, I am an IMG from Indonesia, graduated 2 years ago. I finished one year pediatric residency training in my country before I decided to embark on this new journey.

USMLE Step 1 Preparation
Total time : 20 weeks (5 months)
Average study hours per day : 8-10 hours

Study Materials
For study materials, I try to keep it very simple. I avoid using many books during my preparation mainly because I simply didnt have lots of time to prepare for this exam plus to avoid confusion. I personally believe that Kaplan Lectures Notes are enough for comprehensive review.
Kaplan Lecture Notes and Videos
Goljan Audio
First Aid 2009 + DIT video (only for General Principles Section)
Kaplan MedEssentials

Question bank
Kaplan Qbank (40 % completed)
USMLE World (100 % completed)

This is a brief review of my step 1 prep :
Week 1-5 : Building your foundation
During this first 5 weeks, I reviewed all Kaplan Videos side by side with the Lecture Notes. I started the day by reviewing the videos from morning till afternoon, then quick review of the corresponding topics on lecture notes at the evening. I took the quizzes after each chapter to test how much I absorbed during the day.

Week 6-13 : Consolidating the knowledge
I attended Kaplan Live Lecture for 7 weeks. The schedule was pretty dense, class started at 8 am and finished at 4 or 5 pm. I revised all my lecture notes from that day in the evening. If I had a day off, I usually used it to do questions from Kaplan Qbook. I did all the subject assessment exams after each lecture series and usually I scored 80%-90%, except for Behavioral Science (60%).

Week 14-15 : Kaplan Qbank
For two weeks I did Kaplan Qbank but I only managed to finish 40 % of it then I switched to USMLE World. I did this because I didnt have much time left. I started listening to Goljan Audio this time, usually at the evening when I didnt have much energy to read books and did more questions.

Week 16-19 : USMLE World Qbank
During this 4 weeks period, UW was my primary learning tools. I can't stress enough how important UW for my step 1 preparation. Initially I did 1-2 blocks per day, reviewed all the answers and wrote down some important concept and high yield materials on to my personal notes, then I increased my speed to 3 blocks per day. UW is a great tool to strengthen you concept and I really recommend you to review it twice. I did all blocks under timed-mixed-unused mode only to simulate the real exam and get accustomed to the time constraint. I also reviewed First Aid using the DIT video, but only the General Section and some chapters from Organ System Section that I was weak on based on my UW performance. For behavioral science, biochemistry , molecular biology, genetics and physiology, I also used Kaplan MedEssentials to supplement FA.

Week 20 : Final Revision
I did a very quick revision of my UW notes, Kaplan Neuroanatomy, some chapters of Behavioral Science, List of Forgettables and of course my personal notes from Kaplan Live Lectures. I reviewed the Free 150 USMLE sample again two days before the exam as many people suggested that they appear on the real exam, and I must agree with it

Self assessment exam
Free 150 USMLE sample (5 weeks out) : 87%
NBME 6 online (4 weeks out) : 238
NBME 3 online (3 weeks out) : 258
UWSA 1 online (2 weeks out) : 252
NBME 7 and UWSA 2 online on the same day (1 week out) : 250 and 262

Qbanks (all taken under timed-mixed-unused mode):
Kaplan (40% completed) : 72 %
UW (100% completed) : 81 %

Exam Day
I arrived one hour earlier than my appointment time, I had no idea how bad the traffic was going to be that day, so I didnt want to ruin the day by coming late . I packed my stuff lightly, I just brought some snacks and orange juice. The check in procedure was easy and quick, the exam proctors were very friendly as if they knew I was quite nervous when entering the exam room.

Overall the exam is doable. I can not disclose any content of my exam but one thing for sure, clear your concept very well before appearing on this exam. Except for anatomy, which requires straight recall, all questions test your basic concept. If you used UW very well during your prep, I can guarantee that you can get most of the question correctly. Not to mention, somehow I feel like I have some questions come straight from UW and NBME or at least similar if they are not exactly the same. Having said that, I still have no idea how well I perfomed on this exam. I think that's the "beauty" of USMLE. I can't predict how I will score on my exam, I might fail this exam or ace it with high score, really no idea. I just gave my best to all questions. For now, I just want to enjoy this momment, worrying too much for the result is not gonna change anything rite ? So I will wait peacefully for the next 3 weeks. Let's God do the rest.

For all future test takers, good luck with your preparation.

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