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Received my score on 09/17/2014.

Initial goal: 250+


Final score: 263
Total prep time: 9 months (January start to August 28th during House Job)
Ideal time for this method should be 6-7 months if youre free at home.
Materials used:
All Kaplan videos plus lecture notes.
Watched all the videos once. Read the lecture notes twice and revised them all the week before
the exam. Id just add points to the lecture notes while listening to the lectures. I wouldnt
normally read the book before or after the video. Id just do it simultaneously. This was my first
read. Took 5 and a half months to finish this. Finished on May 15. Whenever the lecturer points
anything out and says its board tested, it WILL be on the exam. Mark it.
*A friend of mine recently took the USMLE and told me that Kaplan has everything Ill ever
need. I just did Kaplan. I checked out Pathoma but decided it wasnt worth doing a short book
and compromising my score. Didnt like Pathoma much. Theres a point in the Kaplan videos
where Fischer tells you We are not here to pass. We are here to kick ass! This holds very true
for the Kaplan series. I also hear every one complaining about the Kaplan Pathology lecturer.
That guy is awesome! (Macrophaaaages)
First Aid 2014
Read once during my second read of Kaplan. Never revised it. The book has too many points and
not enough paragraphs for meand its a little hard to follow whats going on in this book. I
finished it because there were new topics in it that arent in the lecture notes. Id read a subject
completely from it and then revise Kaplan.
*I should have revised this at least once. Below Ill describe why I couldnt.
UWORLD Qbank (2212 questions)
Online/Untimed/Tutor 75% correct overall
Did this one online. 3 month subscription with both the self-assessment exams for 250$. I started
doing it in tutor and untimed mode right after my first read finished. I did a block or two every
day or every other day. It was random, all subjects. Id mark the incorrect ones and keep them for
later. This is an excellent Qbank but after a while you realize that every question is a trick
question and you can make a good guess of what the correct answer is. This is a little
counterproductive. I usually didnt read the explanations for the questions I got right for any of

the Qbanks. It also has excellent Apps for the iPhone and android which I used to do blocks
during boring duties. This Qbank should be done completely.
KAPLAN Qbank (2288 questions)
Offline/Untimed/Subject wise 82% correct overall
People say this isnt a good Qbank because it focuses on minor details too much. I think thats a
good thing. It makes you aware of the things you werent paying attention to and which are
tested. I did this right after my second read of a subject to reinforce the knowledge. I did this one
subject wise. If you choose to skip it, do the Pathophysiology, genetics and molecular biology
blocks from this.
USMLE Rx Qbank (2479 questions)
Offline/Untimed/Subject wise 83% correct overall
I did every subject from this right after doing it from the Kaplan Qbank. Easier than the other
Qbanks but the questions are similar to the actual content tested. Would recommend doing the
Pathophysiology and Pharmacology blocks from this.
KAPLAN QBook (450 questions. 1/3 completed)
Offline/Untimed
You can choose to this in lieu of the Kaplan Qbank. Otherwise dont bother.
First Aid Cases for the Step 1
Fantastic book with integrative explanations. Only did a third of it because I lost interest. You
can start reading it before starting proper study for the step 1.
I didnt use Pathoma/Goljan/High Yield/BRS etc. I used Kaplan for Pathology.
NBMEs
I started solving NBMEs right after my first read ended.
NBME 1 (offline) 14 weeks before the exam. 156/199 (218)
NBME 2 (offline) 3 days after NBME 1. 164/200 (232)
NBME 3 (offline) 12 weeks before exam. 164/200 (232)
NBME 5 (offline) 10 weeks before exam. 170/200 (238)

NBME 7 (offline) 9 weeks before exam. 184/200 (256) *I took a 4 day holiday after this. Dont
do this. Its not a good idea to take time off near the exam. This jump occurred right after I
revised Pharma and did its Qbanks. I guess Pharma was the subject for me.
UWSA 1 (online) 6 weeks before exam. 660/800 [143/186] (250) *This is supposed to be the
harder and more predictive one.
UWSA 2 (online) 2 days after UWSA 1. 770/800 [Dont remember how many I got wrong. I
think it was 31 or 33] (263)
*The UWSA are rather old and they are universally accepted to give misleadingly high scores. I
asked a guy from AKU and he told me that the score is predictive in the higher and lower range
and misleading in the mid-range.
NBME 11 (offline) 2 weeks before the exam. 186/200 (258)
NBME 15 with extended feedback (online) 9 days before exam. 660/800 [188/200] (262)
NBME 12 (offline) 6 days before the exam. 186/200 (258)
*The only forms I didnt solve were 4 (couldnt find it online. The one I found had all the
answers marked), 6 (some questions were already marked), 13 and 16. In retrospect, I should
have done 13 and 16 but got lazy.
In total, I solved over 9000 USMLE style questions in the 3 and half months after my first read,
as well as revising Kaplan and going through First Aid. You can see my score jumping there. I
took point here from Pollux who got a 276 in 2009. He did over 10000 questions but he prepped
since his first year I believe. Initially I had planned to do 12000 but I got sick of it. Someone
should try this and break 270 :D. Theres two other MCQ banks you can add to this; Q and A for
the First Aid (1000 questions) and USMLE Weapon Qbank (1500 questions). (Much thanks to
Pollux for his guide.) I think its imperative to pick a guide that has the score you need.
Study pattern:
I had the following rotations in my House job at KTH in the following order;
Surgical A (3 months) September to December 22, 2013: Read half of behavioral sciences in
these 3 months. :/ At the end I decided that if I had to get serious I had to get an exam date
ASAP. I put a lot of effort into this rotation.
Ortho A (2 months) KMCites know what this rotation is like. I would attend the OR with
Surgical A twice a week during this time. Started studying seriously at the start of this rotation
(January, 2014)

Plastic Surgery (1 month) Had to go regularly, be on duty and assist in theatre. Study wasnt
really affected.
Radiology (1 month) Went regularly but no duties or after hours work.
Psychiatry (2 months) Easy for the first 20 or so days. Afterwards had full day duties every 3rd
day. This would tire me out. I finished my first read in the middle of this rotation.
Medicine (3 months) This was my last rotation and my exam date was 2 months into this
rotation. All I remember is being exhausted all the time and unable to sleep at night. I was
supposed to finish up all my mammoth plans by the 15th of July including the 12000 question
mark but I couldnt because Id be so drained. This was ramazan and we had 5 House officers on
the rota with 24 hour shifts for everyone. If I had to give one advice, dont do this to yourself. Its
a very uncomfortable and unsettling experience. My saving grace was ploughing through the
entire course by the start of medicine. I had Physiology, Anatomy and Pathology left to revise
because I only did them once before. What should have taken 25 or less days dragged on for 2
months. At the end I had to take 13 days off before my exam to gather myself. (Much thanks to
the House officers who covered in my absence. I know it was hard for you guys and I appreciate
it.)
General method for first read (5.5 months): Play a video at 1.3x to 1.5x. Open the book and
because they just read the slides, Id keep an eye and simply add side notes for whatever they
said would be on the exam. Id make a point to watch 50 pages of videos worth of videos every
day. Id force myself to make up for it the next day if I fell short. I watched every single video. I
did the subjects in the following order;
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Behavioral sciences
Biochemistry
Genetics
Microbiology and Immunology
Pharmacology
Physiology
Anatomy
Pathology (*15 days only. Ive heard people spending months on Goljan. Makes no sense
to me.)
^Started with subjects I didnt know well.

General method for second read (3.5 months): Read a subject from First Aid 2014 and
highlight ONLY the things I didnt know before. Followed this up by reading the Kaplan notes
for the subject (60-100 pages per day) and solving all the Kaplan Qbank questions for that
subject. Then Id solve all the USMLE Rx questions for that subject. Id do 4-7 blocks per day
depending on how much time I could get. Id always do a 46 question block in under an hour. I
usually skipped the explanation for the questions I got right (no point in reading things you
already know.)

*During this time I was doing UWORLD at an even pace. I finished it in about 2.5 months into
my second read.
Regarding solving Qbanks offline, I would keep a strict log in a notepad for EVERY question.
Below is a picture of one of the pages from my notepad. In the last 4 days I just went through all
the wrong answers of all the Qbanks except UWORLD (About 800 in total I think). 25-30 of
these were on the exam.
The Xs are incorrect questions. The circling was to remind me to look at these questions again.
I had similar logs for the NBMEs as well all of which were solved during the last 3.5 months.

Exam day:

28th August. The center is in F6 Islamabad. Very comfortable. Started my exam at 8:46. Did 3
blocks in my first go. Took a 25 minute break to wash my face and drink some water and eat a
chocolate. I wasnt tired but I forced myself into a proper routine with regular breaks. The 3
blocks in one go was probably a mistake. I was being hasty and in the 4th block I realized I had
messed up two very simple questions in the earlier blocks. I was extra careful from then on. I did
block 4 and 5 together and had over 1 and a half hours of break time left at the end of the 5th
block. I took another break to eat a sandwich that later gave me food poisoning (Thank you
Mufti for recommending that bakery.) I did block 6 and took another 25 minute break to kill
time. I finished my last block at 4:05 pm, 40 minutes before my allotted time.
In retrospect, going through the exam that quickly was incredibly stupid. I never rechecked my
answers even though I had plenty of time (Something the new test takers should do). I would
however keep count of how many questions I had to think on before answering (55 in total.
Probably got half of them right). There are no bonus points for finishing early. Lesson learned.
Overall I found the exam rather straightforward. I was familiar with the majority of the
questions. I think there were 25 or so questions that made no sense or I had never come across
before. There were questions from Surgery, OBGYN, Eye, ENT, and community medicine
(hated these). There was a question about handling instruments exposed to prion disease. Theres
one line about it in Bailey and Love. :/ I thought it was an unfair question. There was another
question about decontaminating bed railings exposed to corynebacterium diphtheria with a list of
5 chemicals. The behavioral science questions I usually drew a blank on despite doing it well.
There were other questions as well that I knew from Med school but never saw during my prep.
In short, anything can be on the exam. Read widely when youre in school. You know that
bizarre stuff teachers mention in class? That can be on the exam. If its written down anywhere in
any book, it can be on the exam. I know it sounds gloomy but thats just how things are.
P.S Sleep well the night before the exam. Dont use Benzos because they affect cognition.
Zolpidem is acceptable but if youve never used it before, dont try it the night of the exam.
P.P.S My computer just disconnected in the 5th block and the guys had no idea what happened so
they just reset my PC. Had a small heart attack at this point but when they rebooted the entire
system my exam was on the same question with the timer still running.
Academic background: Not much to write here. Above average rank in class. 63rd in class in
final year. Always less than 67% in the Professional exams except for final year (75%). No
medals or honors. Spent most of my time in Literary Society and what not. Decided to take the
USMLE in the summer of final year (2013).

Regrets:

1. Not revising First Aid at the end because I became supremely lazy/exhausted in the final
10 days. Any resource not revised is mostly wasted.
2. Rushing the first 3 blocks. (Read: being a dumbass)
3. Not reading 100 cases in Medical Ethics by Conrad Fischer
4. Not listening to heart and lung sound audios and trying to get by based on descriptions in
the stem of the question.
5. Not doing NBME 16. I was later told its very similar to the current exam.
Books used during medical college: I always read a book front to back. With a few exceptions,
I read all these books completely.
1. First year; Grays for students all the clinical blue boxes from KLM, Mushtaq
Biochem plus Lippincott, Guyton physiology, EKG by Dale Dubin, Wheaters
histology and Langman embryology.
2. Second year; Grayss for students plus KLM clinical notes, Barrs Neuroanatomy,
Harpers Biochemistry (excellent book), Guyton and Ganong physiology, Wheaters
histology and Langman embryology.
3. Third Year; Pathologic Basis of Disease (Long Robbins), Microbiology by Jawetz,
Parasitology by Blacklock and Southwell (ancient book), Goodman and Gilman
Pharmacology (read half then switched to Shahnawaz for the other half and the
exam), Parikh and that Pakistani dude for Forensics.
4. Fourth year; Long Robbins all the way and Excel notes for Community medicine.
5. Final year; Davidson medicine, Bailey and Love Surgery plus a single read of
Manipal, Parvez Akbar (underrated book), OBGYN by Ten Teachers, Dhingra for
ENT and Kanski for Ophthalmology.
*Long Robbins is easily the best thing to study if you plan on taking the USMLE.