Step 1 experience
Total preparation time : 12 months
I took my exam on 28th august 2018 and got my result after about 3 weeks on 19 september. I started my preparation with Kaplan lecture notes , i have read them all for 1 time and it took for me about 4 months, but i read pharmacology for the second time after i finished reading FA first time ( i had really bad concepts in pharmacology). After caplan notes i started reading FA , everybody knows that it is the basic book for prepairing , the same was for me. When i start reading FA 1st time, i began watching pathoma videos , and i found them really helpful , i was driving to my university and watching this videos on the background ( i was just listening them mostly) . After first reading of FA i started reading Goljan pathology , because i was thinking that the exam consists mostly of pathology and it is very hard , but this is not true, most pathology concepts are pretty easy and you will learn most of them from reading FA and doing Uworld, in my opinion reading Goljan pathology is the waste of time and you can just look to some chapters in it, in which you think you are weak. After reading Goljan , i started reading FA for the second time , during this time i started doing old NBMEs and also I bought the FA-rx Qbank , and i think it was really important for me , i watched videos from FA-rx and they were really helpful, i highly recommend watching this videos, especially if you have low knowledge of the basic concepts. FA-rx question bank has some weak points: silly questions , some low-yield concepts , but mostly - it helps you to build the knowledge of the First Aid and the exam is more than 90% from FA. At my 3rd reading of FA i made simulation test in FA-rx and got 250 , it was in the end of april , then i made FA-rx Qbank for the second time and ended with my 3d reading of FA, i can not recommend you doing the whole qbank for the second time, but i recommend you doing the marked questions for the second time, it can be really helpful! Also during this time I have read 100 Fischer cases ( waste of time) , BRS behavioral science ( recommend this book ). And then I began my 4th reading of FA and also I bought Uworld Qbank, and this is the best resource for prepairing for USMLE step 1, I have done it 2 times , and I recommend doing it 2 or even more times! My dedicated study period was 2 months ( july and august) and I was studying during this time for 8-10 hours per day, before this period I was studying for 4-6 hours per day. My dedicated studying period began from doing NBME 13 ( 24 june ) , I got 246 on it and it was total disaster for me , I made 18 mistakes on it, but I was making about 12-13 mistakes in other NBMEs during this time, and after this self-assessment I recognized my weak areas and started studying really hard! I was reading FA and doing Uworld ( about 80-100 question per day) and in the end of the july I made NBME 15 ( 22 july) and got 257 on it. Then in my last month I started my 5th reading of FA and my second round of Uworld, also in my last months I have read 100 Khan cases ( I do not like this book , it has a lot of strange cases , but I recommend reading it ) , anatomy shelf notes ( really recommend reading it, it is easy, but it helped me a lot on the exam) , Uworld biostat review ( the best resource to learn biostatistics! Everybody must read it before the exam, really helped me!) Also I read some chapters from BRS physiology like heart and lungs ( not high-yield , because all major concepts are in the Uworld). In my last month of preparation I was reading about 30-35 pages from FA , doing about 100 question from Uworld and also I was reviewing my previous nbmes ( for example I made nbme 16 and after about 7-8 days I made it again , just to review it and to take more information from it). Also I wrote many notes into my FA from nbme and Uworld. In my last 2 days of preparation I reviewed microbiology from FA ( and it was right because I had a lot of questions on microbiology on my exam) and also I have done remaining questions from Uworld.
Some information from my self-assessments:
UWSA-1 1,5 months before the exam-271
NBME 16 – 1 month before the exam- 260
Free 120 – 1 month before the exam – 95%
NBME 19- 3 weeks before the exam- 263
UWSA-2 – 2 weeks before the exam- 269
NBME 18 – 10 days before the exam - 263
The night before the exam was terrible, I couldn’t sleep before 4 a.m. and I had only about 4 hours of sleeping. The exam was though ( everybody write this ) , but it was not harder than UWSA 2 ! Actually the exam was very similar to UWSA 2! The same question length , the same style. In each block there were about 8-10 hard questions ( in 5 blocks I had 8 hard questions and in 2 blocks I had 10) and you need to understand , that about 2 questions in each block are unreal, wtf-questions , you can not answer them, and it is normal! Anatomy and physiology were really easy, biochemistry too, actually all questions except behavioral , micro and pharm were really good . Behavioral… it was the most challengeable discipline for me, because I do not understand it , and behavioral questions were really strange and difficult , but I think that it is normal . Biostatistics was fine, just 2 hard questions from it ( you must read Uworld biostat review). And also I had some hard questions from pharmacology, in my opinion they were more step-2 oriented. I had break after first 2 blocks, and then after each block, in break time I washed my face with cold water, drank cola and ate chocolate , and it helps a lot! I had a lot of energy on the exam. Actually you are not allowed to panic during the exam, if you see the question, that you can not solve, just go to another question, and may be the right answer will come to your head after you will solve other questions . I made every block in about 40 minutes and then I was reviewing it , some questions I was reviewing for 5 or may be 10 minutes, do not think that it worth it.
I had really hard 7th block , and after the exam I felt myself depressed and frustrated, I remembered about 20 difficult questions and found about 10 mistakes shortly after exam! Do not do it! You need to forget this day and relax after ending the exam. The first 2 days after exam were really hard, I was feeling like I have failed, because there were so many questions for which I did not know the answer. But then I tried to relax and started living normal live and it helped me a lot. Remember: the preparation is hard , the exam is easy.
Best of luck!
P.M. sorry for my language mistakes