Hi Everybody,

Image - Dr Kirtivardhan Vashistha
Dr Kirtivardhan Vashistha

I am Kirtivardhan Vashistha from SMS Medical College, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.
Here is my experience in a short format, followed by a longer format. I hope it’ll be helpful to you.


10 months, from May 2016


Anatomy – Kaplan → then FA + UW
Physiology – Kaplan → then FA + UW
Biochemistry – Kaplan → then FA + UW
Microbiology – FA + UW
Immunology – Kaplan → then FA + UW
Genetics – Kaplan (weak in FA and UW) → FA + UW
Pharmacology – Kaplan → FA + UW
Pathology – Goljan + FA + UW
Behavioral science – Kaplan → then FA + UW + 100 Cases by Dr. Conrad Fischer + High Yield Ethics
Biostatistics – Kaplan → FA + UW and UW Biostatistics review


DateQuestion bankNumber of questions got wrongMarks
UW first timeAverage 77%
UW second time (1/4th done)92%
Jan 3rdNBME-1630232
Feb 7thNBME-1717248
Feb 25thNBME-1816255
March 9thUWSA-1264 (85%)
March 9thUWSA-2264 (90%)
March 18thSample Qs from USMLE93%
March 20thUSMLE Step-1260

Exam on 20th March, 2016. Result on April 12th. Score 260.

Closest forms to the exam: – NBME-18, UW SA & UW Q-bank!

Now in a more detailed way

First of all, it’s important for everyone to realize that writing an exam experience isn’t a way to show off high scores, I have already done that on my Facebook /Instagram accounts and with my family and friends. Actually I read tons of Step-1 exam experiences during my preparation and found them immensely helpful. So my heart was itching to help my fellow mates around the world who are preparing or will prepare for the exam by sharing some of my experiences.
For ones who are going to start; you will feel lost, hopeless and, especially so if you have been an average student (just like me). The point here is to work continuously towards the goal you want to achieve.
I started with Kaplan subject-wise with videos in early May during my internship year. It took me 4 months, which by any standard would give a turtle a run for its money.
I regret wasting so much time in Kaplan, but after that, I switched to UW and FA, annotating extra info from UW into FA. In September my friend and I started preparing together and that’s when the real preparation started for me.

Make sure you understand everything there is, on UW and FA, use multiple resources if a particular topic is making you cringe. For instance, YouTube videos, DIT, Google image search had been immensely helpful in a deeper
understanding of the step 1 contents.

Image of an Ink pen

As you move forward in your preparation, you would realize that the way you look or understand something has an added dimension to it, which will make you feel satisfied and you would be more confident about your preparation.
I could barely do 20-30 questions/day initially, and I managed to complete UW by mid-December. After that, I thought of starting with NBMEs and gave myself 25 days to complete it (which I couldn’t). I took NBME-16 on 3rd Jan – got 232, it was the lowest point in my step preparation. I expected myself to get at least 240.
I extended my eligibility period from Nov – Dec – Jan to Feb – March – April and gave myself another month for NBME 17. While doing that I worked on my weaknesses and tried to memorize facts, especially that of microbiology and Biochemistry.
Took NBME-17 on 7th Feb – got 248, was relieved.

On 25th Feb I took NBME-18, and got 255, this test was the closest to the real exam. All others were pretty vague in my viewpoint.

I kept revising FA, did random questions from random resources (for e.g. FA Q&A and USMLE Rx) in last two weeks and took UW SA-1 and 2 on a single day to get the feeling of the exam.

On the exam day, most important thing is to have a strong mindset and it’s not hard to get that. I’ve had panic attacks in almost all the NBMEs I gave and I was considering seeking professional help for that.

But on the exam day, I told myself that I did whatever I could and now is the time to add 2-3 to your score and the only way I could do it is to face the exam headstrong.

I had a Red Bull, snickers, chocolates for the day, make sure you wear loose clothes without pockets and socks (wear a t-shirt instead of a shirt, sandals instead of a pair of shoes).

I did 2 blocks in one sitting and took a break of 10 minutes in between, didn’t utilize 25-30 minutes of my break because I did not feel the need of taking it.

I knew I was in the game, and wanted to finish it early and on a high note. I managed to finish the exam 50 – 55 minutes before the stipulated 8 hours.
The key here is, this worked for me, it may not be applicable to you, but you have to know various ways of how people have tackled this monster of an exam in past to choose the best one for yourself.


It’s a do-able exam, if I could do it, you could get a 265 (no kidding).


All the best, stop freaking out, start working!


FA – First Aid

UW – USMLE World




published with permission from the author.



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  • Robert Reply


  • Rumel Doe Reply


  • Kohel Reply

    Congrats doc :)

  • Nawank Sharma Reply

    Sir, I am a second year student from MGMMC, Indore. I want to know more about USMLE. What after clearing all the steps? What are the total expenses for exam?

  • Jason Borne Reply


  • Aisha Reply

    Congratulations.. inspired by your experience :)

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