How To Take And Study An NBME For USMLE Step 1 Properly

If you are studying for the Steps, I am sure you get chills when you plan on taking an NBME. Many students get nervous when they realize they have to take the NBMEs.

Today I will explain when you should take an NBME and how you should study your NBME to get the most out of it.

First all, if you just came out of the medical school do not take any NBMEs yet. I highly recommend everyone to at least go over First Aid and USMLE World once and then take the NBME. Now you might ask why?

The reason why I recommend to take NBME after completing one pass of FA and UW is so that you feel a peace of mind. Not only that, but you will also feel much more confident taking it.

Next, when you decide to take your NBME, always take it early in the morning or as soon as you wake up. Of course after breakfast! This way your head will be clear, and you will be focused.

Do not cheat while taking NBME. You have to treat it like a real exam even though NBME only has four blocks. Make sure you have a pencil or pen, two blank white papers, and an eraser. These are the only materials I recommend you to have before you begin. Do not have any water while taking the exam. Now, you might say why not?

The reason is on your real exam you are only allowed to have two dry erase boards and markers. They do not permit you to take any water while taking the exam. That’s why you should stimulate the same system at home.

After each block, take 5 to 10 minutes break for washing face and snacks. Once you complete the exam and get your fabulous score, just relax. Even if you get a very low score its ok!

Next day, you should go over entire NBME. You can easily find all the questions and answers in Google. Go over each and every single question and mark the tested concepts in First Aid. Now be careful not all the answers you will find online are 100% accurate. So you will need to double check the answers from a trusted source like Usmle World, Kaplan, BRS or Robbins.

Next, you should study all the concepts that you marked on First Aid thoroughly. Because on your next NBME, they will test you on the same concept in a different way.

For example, if you had an NBME question on Friedreich’s Ataxia and it’s association with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy chances are they will ask you a different question on Friedreich’s Ataxia with a different association on your exam or another NBME. And this is why I highly recommend everyone to study the entire concept.

Overall, before you take your real exam, you should take at least three NBMEs. And if you add the number of questions there should be total 600 questions. Make sure you go over all of them correctly and mark them on First Aid.

If your NBME scores are very low and you are struggling with studying for Step feel free to contact me. I offer tutoring session over Skype at an affordable price and helped many students to score very high on the exam. Click here to contact me, or you can also visit my dedicated USMLE tutoring website

Is First Aid For USMLE Step 1 Enough?

I get this question a lot from my friends who are taking or planning to take USMLE Step 1. And I am sure some of you who are planning to take USMLE Step 1 also have the same question.

Here is your answer to this question. First Aid for USMLE Step 1 is enough depending on the strength of your basic science’s background. If you had a very good basic sciences background then First Aid is enough.

But, if you are like me, who had a very weak background in basic sciences then there are little tweaking that you need to do to get the maximum score possible.

When I took the exam, I realized that almost 80% of the materials were from First Aid. Some of the questions were straight recalls and others were little tricky but you can easily find them on First Aid.

So what’s the trick to get a very good score with First Aid?

To answer that question I will use myself as an example. I was very weak in anatomy, biochemistry, genetics and neurology. When I started with USMLE World, I kept on getting questions wrong on those. It kind of got me mad at one point.

Here is what I did to master those:

  • For Anatomy – I watched the Kaplan videos. I didn’t read the lecture notes. It was way too much to read. I just watched the videos. Make sure you only watch the “Gross Anatomy” section. That old guy in the video is absolutely amazing. I think he is my favorite kaplan lecturer. He saved my life with anatomy. I can guarantee you that after watching the Gross Anatomy Videos from Kaplan you will never get a single anatomy question wrong.
  • For Biochemistry & Genetics – I watched the video and read the kaplan lecture notes on biochemistry. Now, I did this in the beginning of my preparation. You just need to read the lecture notes and watch the videos once and then you can go back to First Aid Biochemistry section till you take the exam. I will say even if you are good in biochemistry still go back and watch the kaplan videos and read the lecture note on biochemistry. It’s a must!
  • For Neurology – I used to hate neuroanatomy and neurology because I kept on getting UW questions wrong. And I get fed up of that. So what I did was, I read the high yield neuroanatomy book front to back once. It was quick. I think it took only three days to read it. After that I never got a neuroanatomy question wrong. I also used few videos from this website to master few concepts in neuroanatomy (Opthalmology).
After mastering those three sections, I would say First Aid was enough for me. So, to answer this question if FA is enough or not, I will say study your weak areas from a different sources or videos and then come back to First Aid and USMLE World. That should get you a very high score!

Don’t forget to repeat USMLE World three times before taking the exam. Good Luck to you all!

How to get 250 on USMLE Step 1

Everyone wants to get a very good score on step 1. I know how that feeling is because I went through the same thing. Getting a 250 is not hard but it’s not easy either.

The exam itself is it not difficult but the difficult part is staying focused.

What I realized from my experience of step 1 is that the key to get a very good score is repetition. I will get on that shortly. But first let me tell you what you should do.

Let’s just say you came from a crappy medical school where you did not learn much. Yeah we all blame the school right? So let’s just say that’s the case.

You are out of the school and need to pass Step 1 what should you do?

The first thing you want to do is to realize which subjects you hate the most because you and I know those are your weakness.

Once you know what you are weak at read the Kaplan lecture notes of those subjects. Take your time reading those. Even if it takes a month to finish one subject; do it.

Watch the videos along with the book. Remember, Kaplan is a gold standard for steps. So once you get your weak subjects out of the way now you can move on with the followings:

  1. Start with First Aid. Read it system wise first and do USMLE World with it. For example, if you read the cardiology section of First Aid (FA) then you want to do the cardiology section of USMLE World. Do that for the entire FA. Make sure you take notes as you go along. If you don’t know what to write from USMLE World then just write the educational objectives.
  2. Once you are done the entire USMLE World then read the FA front to back with your notes.
  3. Once you are done reading FA front to back with notes then do USMLE World again without taking notes unless they added any new questions meanwhile.
  4. Once you are done with USMLE World 2nd time read First Aid again front to back.
  5. Then do USMLE World 3rd time
  6. Now read First Aid again front to back
  7. Trust me by now you should be ready for the exam.

Don’t forget to take NBME after each time you complete USMLE World (UW).

From my experience I can tell you that after you are done with UW first time chances are that your first NBME score will be very low.

Don’t get disappointed.

Do UW again and take another NBME. Now you will see the real magic.

Your NBME score should be a very good score. And once you are done with the third time of UW.

You will hit around 240+. You get the idea?

Sometimes even after all the hard work, your score may not improve. Maybe you are not studying the material the right way.

I can definitely help you out. If you want to speak to me directly feel free to consult with me for a one-on-one session and I can help you create a study guide, schedule and much more.

Good Luck Everyone!