How Many Qbank Should You Do For USMLE Step 1?

As you already heard Step 1 is getting harder and harder every year. Even though the number questions are decreasing per block, the concepts are still the same. This makes it more difficult.

Fewer questions per block mean each question worth more point. And this is why you have prepared very well to score high on Step 1.

In my previous blogs, I talked about sticking to just USMLE World and First Aid. Don’t get me wrong I scored very high by sticking to this source. So it basically depends on the person. If you have a strong foundation, then UW and First Aid should be sufficient. Otherwise, you must do 2 Qbanks.

However, over the years Step 1 is getting harder and harder. And people who are just using USMLE World are scoring average. And, this is why I recommend doing two Qbanks to get a higher score and solid foundation.

Here is the structure you should follow:

  • First 2 Months: USMLE World and First Aid; following by an NBME
  • Third Month: Kaplan Qbank and First Aid; following by an NBME
  • Fourth Month: USMLE World and First Aid; following by an NBME
  • Fifth Month: Repeat USMLE World and First Aid; following by an NBME

Now, take the average of your NBME scores, and that should be a rough estimate of your real exam score.

Again, the moral of this post is that USMLE World will make you an average student, but if you combine it with Kaplan QBank, you will score very high. And trust me on this!

If you find it difficult to study for Step 1 and doing Qbanks, feel free to contact me for help. I offer tutoring session over Skype, and my students score more than 235+ on Step 1.

Good Luck!

Timeline to be a Medical Doctor in the US

Being a doctor in the United States is very tough, tougher than anywhere in the world in my opinion. It’s vey important to know what you are getting yourself into before you sign up for a career that will take close to a decade before you make the big bucks.

Of course making money shouldn’t be your primary reason to go into medicine because you will most likely fail. You should like medicine for medicine and money is the bonus that comes with the profession.

The following is an ideal timeline for everyone to be a doctor:

  1. Medical DoctorUndergrad
    You can graduate college with any major but you should take the pre-medicine classes. These are the pre-requisite for getting into medical school in the US and in the Caribbean. The classes are:
    – 8 credits of biology with labs
    – 8 credits of general chemistry with labs
    – 8 credits of physics with labs
    – 8 credits of organic chemistry with labs
    – 4 or more credits of biochemistry
  2. Take the MCAT
    Whether you go to US or off-shore school, taking the MCAT is a must. All your pre-medicine classes will prepare you for the MCAT. However, you will have to study independently for the MCAT as it is harder than the USMLE exams according to some.
  3. Apply to Medical School
    Applying to medical school is a tedious process and you have to run around taking care of papers for various requirements.
  4. Medical School – Basic Sciences
    Whether you go to a US school or off-shore school, the basic science foundation is required in order to set the foundation of medicine. You need to go over various topics in medical school: physiology, pathology, microbiology, anatomy, histology, ethics, biochemistry, etc.
  5. USMLE Step 1
    After basic sciences you need to sit down for the USMLE Step 1. It’s a computerized test where you have to answer over 300 questions in one sitting.
  6. Medical School – Clinical Clerkship
    The last two years of medical school deals with clerkship in the hospital. You will be given hands-on-learning experiences with doctors and other hospital staff. These years are very important as this will give you an exposure of the healthcare environment. You are not expected to know everything or learn everything but this exposure will help you gain experience.
  7. USMLE Step 2 CK and USMLE Step 2 CS
    These two tests are taken within the clinical years. USMLE Step 2 CK is just like the Step 1 as in sitting in front of a computer and answering questions. The USMLE Step 2 CS is a practical exam where you will perform doctor interview tasks in front of an actor.
  8. Apply for Residency
    Residency is a tedious process where you have to go through a list of programs which you are interested in. These programs can be limited to you if your application is poor as in if you got low USMLE scores. So you need to gain the highest score possible in your USMLE board exams.
  9. Residency
    Residency is at least three years and you need to contribute 60-80 hours a week with at least 3 weeks of vacation time per year, which depends on the program. You will take the USMLE Step 3 during this time and your residency program will pay for that. After residency, you will be able to sit for the state board exam such the internal medicine board exam or the family medicine board exam and get your license. If you are in other residency programs such as pathology, psychiatry, OB/GYN, surgery, or pediatrics, etc. you may have to serve residencies longer than 3 years.
  10. Fellowship
    If you plan to specialize such as in cardiology or nephrology, then you would train for another 3 years in fellowship after residency.
As you can see, training to be a doctor in the United States is a long process touch process. You have to be mentally ready to handle the exhaustion and commit.

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!