This article is the first in a series named “The Rebel Route” written by Dr. Karen Tien based on her experience with USMLE Step 1 Exam, March 2017.

Step 1 IMG Experience March 2017 – The Rebel (Non-Kaplan) Route

Part I: Practice Exams and Resources

Target score: 240

Image - Dr. Karen Tien
Dr. Karen Tien

Step 1 result: 243

Most  predictive NBME: NBME-18 (scored 242)

Practice Exams

All ONLINE  (in retrospect, I should have done NBME-17 and 19 offline to save the money, as they are easier than the actual exam and are not predictive).
NBME-15: (Score 213) I took it after doing 1 round of boards and beyond lectures, accompanied by one round of UW and 1 round of FA.
NBME-16: (Score 209) Took it after another 2 weeks of FA-weaknesses. It was at the point I canceled my exam and postponed. Paid $280 in Prometric fines and 60 dollars on ECFMG to extend 3 months. This was the low point in my life, I almost gave up!

IT IS THIS POINT WHEN I STARTED DEDICATED TIME OFF TO STUDY
NBME-12 (Score 228): After another round of FA (2nd time) – proper line-by-line reading of FA with study partner. I also did NBME-1 to 7, which helped me to get over the NBME-fear.
NBME-13 (Score 236): After I did one thousand hard questions from the USMLE-Rx.
NBME-17 (Score 246) and UWSA form-1 (Score 256): Took it after second round of UW and FA-weaknesses (4 weeks out).
NBME-18 (Score 242) and UWSA-1 (Score 256): After working on the weaknesses and revising FA  (3 weeks out).
NBME-19 (Score 232): This was final round (3rd time) of FA (1 weeks out). I made fewer mistakes in NBME-19 compared to 18, but scored lower). So be aware as this can happen to you too.

Image of The Rebel Route

Lesson learned

It’s difficult to study and work at the same time! If you can get dedicated time off – Take it.

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