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!

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.

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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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