Well, the 7th semester exam is over & I am having some free time under my belt..I am exhausted because of excessive sleeping...so want to write something but not getting a proper topic. That is why I’ve started to type out all my experience regarding the world’s most deadly & expensive exam USMLE.....
‘If you want to hit the 95th percentile in USMLE step-1, you have to master this book’....this was a caption given on the back page of Ganong’s physiology book...being driven by curiosity, i started searching everything about MLE. But it was 2nd year when I decided to appear this exam United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE).Thanks a lot to my friend alok for giving me the company during the phases of decision making...In my opinion, the most difficult part of this exam is ‘to decide whether you’ll appear or not’. So after googling out various facts I reinforced my decision to hug this exam.
SUBJECTS,EXAM COST & CENTER
There are 7 subjects to be encountered in step-1;anatomy , physiology, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology, microbiology & behavioural science. The subjects which matter more in exam are the 3Ps; patho,pharma & physio. The examination fee was $840, which had to be paid only by credit card. There were 10 test centres in India .I preferred Hyderabad because i had a number of close relatives in this city.
Materials I used were very much traditional. I didn’t try to experiment a lot..I used the following study materials;
1) Lecture notes of KAPLAN institute for all subjects except pathology
2) For pathology- Goljan’s review of pathology
3) USMLE world question bank(online) during last month(an absolute must)
4) Regular text books like Robbin’s patho, Katzung pharma etc
5) FIRST AID for STEP-1(absolute must)
Since I was appearing as an undergraduate, things started to be herculean for me because of the lengthy University exam (45 days).I tried to neutralize the difficulties by studying Kaplan materials & text books simultaneously. By the end of 2nd MB, I completed the Kaplan materials twice(except anatomy & biochemistry). So just after the university exam I pushed myself to the world of anatomy & biochem. After finishing the course 2months before the scheduled date (25th jan 2010), I bought the online USMLE q.bank for 1 month which was enriched with some high quality questions..I ended up with 69% after solving all the 2100 questions in that Q.bank. The final month was all about revising the weak areas & the high yield facts. In the mean time I had to attend the SPM classes to avoid the attendance shortage. The 4 month of preparation after 2nd Mb was really painful, because I was the only one preparing for this exam. Thanks to friends like Alok, Anuraag,Manjit & my room-mates who gave me a lot of moral support.
1WEEK BEFORE EXAM
The exam requires two documents;
1) the scheduling permit issued by ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates)
2) Any Govt. issued identification card ( I took my pass port)
So I kept these two documents carefully with extra copies during this period. Stress was killing me all the time. I read only the First aid book & the notes i prepared from the UW q.bank. Exam was on 25th but I had my ticket booked for Hyderabad on 22nd January to ensure the fact that I’ll get a complete day for rest.
25TH JANUARY, THE BIGGEST DAY
Exam was in a prometric company’s centre in Banjara hills, the most developed part of Hyderabad. It is a 8 hour long exam(9am to 5pm). There were 336 questions divided into 7 blocks containing 48 questions each. Each block has to be finished within 1 hour. So, one has to use the 1hour break time according to his’her preference. I preferred to take 5-10 min breaks after the completion of each block. Since the time was inadequate for taking a lunch, I had 2 packs of good day biscuits along with a 1lit Tropicana mixed juice & a water bottle. The exam questions were really tough for me & I was not feeling confident during most of the blocks, but the last 2 blocks were like lollypop for me which gave some hope. Finally all blocks were finished after which I felt nice & fresh .During the exam I had to give my finger prints 16 times!!! All students were treated like suspected terrorists!! Coming out of the centre I visited a nearby Jagannth temple to pray for a good result..
17TH FEBRUARY; DAY OF RESULT
I got up from bed @ 7am & started to check my yahoo inbox every hour to get the result ..i totally forgot that result declaration time was 9am EST, which was around 7pm IST...so I had to wait till evening..I went to temple in the evening with my friends Rakesh & Manjit. At 7.30, i checked my inbox again & this time got the mail with the subject ‘SCORE REPORT AVAILABLE’. This mail dilated my pupil. I prayed again & downloaded my score card. It was 98/228.Though,it was not the score i was looking for(i wanted a 99!!), I was happy, because things could have been worse & 98 is considered as a good score too. Thanked almighty for giving me a good score & instructed my brain to get a 99 in the step-2 !!!!
That is all about my experience of USMLE step-1...if you have any doubt regarding this examination & preparation, please be free to ask.