This is the third article in a series which describes the USMLE Journey of three friends from Al-Quds University, Palestine. They are – Amjad Elmashala, Kinana Abu-Rayyan, and Mohammad Adawi. Below are the links to all the articles in this series –

  1. Amjad Elmashala (Step 1 Score 269)
  2. Kinana Abu-Rayyan (Step 1 Score – 257)
  3. Step 1 Success Story – Dr. Mohammad Adawi (Step 1 Score – 259)
  4. Step 2 CK 265 Plus – The Exam Experience of Three Friends (Combined Step 2 CK Experience)


Part 3

Step 1 Success Story – Dr. Mohammad Adawi


Image-Profile PictureHi all, my name is Mohammad Adawi, a graduate from Al-Quds University from Palestine, class of 2016, I took my step 1 exam on the 1st of Feb in Jordan, My step 1 score is 259.


It took me a while to write my experience because I felt I should think very well before I write so that I can give it in the most precise way.


Time duration: 6 months

I took my exam during my internship, with a friend of mine who managed to do it the same period, I’ve started with pathology cause I felt it has the biggest load in the USMLE exam, so I started with Pathoma for pathology which is a great book, very concise and to the point, I watched its video too and they were very helpful, I used to watch the video of the chapter I’m studying then read it very rapidly from Pathoma and after that I used to solve the Uworld questions of that subject-offline-, it took me 25 days to finish Pathoma and Uworld of pathology, in the last 5 days I read the corresponding subjects from the first aid, just to make sure I’ve covered everything.


After that I moved to biochemistry, I’ve watched Kaplan classroom anywhere 2014, Dr.Turco, they were amazing, I was terrified before I’ve started watching them, but seriously dr.turco has done a tremendous job to make everything clear and simple, I used to do the same as pathology, watch the video, read the corresponding chapter from FA this time, cause I felt I should stick to FA, and if I read Kaplan lecture note I was sure it would be the only time, and any book you read for one time, it’ll just vanish away, so it took me another 14 days to get done with it.


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After that I think it wouldn’t matter with which order you’ll move on, I moved to Pharmacology, I’ve watched Kaplan videos 2010, Dr.Lionel Raymon, he is an excellent teacher, integrates biochemistry with pharmacology very well, and make you feel everything is simple, It took me another 10-14 days to finish pharmacology from FA and UWorld.


Then I did Microbiology and Immunology, the driest subjects in the whole book, I felt bored while studying them, and I’ve managed to watch Kaplan classroom anywhere from Immuno, but wasn’t that helpful, for Microbiology I just read FA and solved UWorld, knowing deep inside I’ve to read this subject many times at different periods to master it, so they took both another 10-15 days, I can’t remember the exact duration.


After that I did anatomy and anatomy, I was very concerned about anatomy, cause I know how much details out there, but I felt I have no time to read a textbook other than FA, so I’ve watched Kaplan videos classroom anywhere again and read the corresponding pages in FA and of course solving the corresponding questions. It took my about 10 days to finish them, I studied UWorld questions many times after that, and I felt that was enough for the real exam, as for the Neuroanatomy I had no problem there, I have a pretty solid base, I’ve watched Dr. Najeeb videos while I was in the third year and Kaplan videos 2014 were also amazing at summarizing the high yields point, so it took me another 10 days to get done with anatomy.


Lastly, as for the psychiatry, behavioral and Biostatistics, I’ve studied all of them in like 20 days, of course Kaplan classroom anywhere 2014 and the corresponding ……etc, I struggled with behavioral cause we didn’t take it at med school, and I had no idea about it, so I read 100 cases book which is a very simple amazing book, it took me one day to read it, and then I’ve solved UWorld questions which were tough,then I’ve studied psychiatry, with the help of my friend I’ve mastered it, simple but of course not easy, and as for Biostatistics I’ve watched Kaplan videos 2014, read Fa and solved UWorld.


It took me 3 months to finish FA and UWorld for one time.


I’ve watched Kaplan videos, cause I felt FA was a very dense and concise look, I felt I need an introduction to every subject before reading it and I did UWorld with subjects because I felt I need to know what is high yield and what is not ASAP, so that in the second round I know where to focus.


So I’ve spent the next month revising FA, actually studying it for the second time, it was a little bit boring, because I like to solve questions and I hate memorization, so maybe it was better to take one or two NBMEs in between.


I took the first NBME 15: and I’ve scored 253, I felt relieved because my target was 250s.


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Then, I’ve subscribed for UWorld online, 2 months with two self-assessments, this time I’ve done it randomly and I think everyone should do it this way, my percentage of correct questions were 92% but this has nothing to do with your overall performance, just use it as a study tool.


After that I took many NBMEs: 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 7, 5 (offline), my average number of wrong questions somewhere between 12-14 questions.


while I was taking NBME I used to study FA for the last time, I took the first UWSA-1, 3 weeks before the exam and my score was 271, then I took UWSA 2 2 weeks before the exam with a score of 267, then 5 days before the exam I took NBME 18 and my score was 270.


I felt pretty confident that I’m ready to take the exam, I took the exam on the 1st of Feb as I mentioned, I didn’t sleep well the night before and I felt very nervous on the morning of the exam for a couple of reasons, first it is my first experience with such standardized test and second my friend didn’t take the exam because of a technical issue and he felt really really depressed, and I felt so worried because of that, so I felt some mental clouding during the exam, I had no problem in managing my time, I had at least 10 mins left with each block, I took a break every two blocks, and I left the Prometric center at the end of the day, feeling relieved I’m done with this monster, but also I felt I didn’t do my best during the exam, it was much closer to UWorld than NBME, but NBME expose you to different ideas and prepare you for the challenging questions that you counter during the exam.


It’s a really long tough road, but we can, of course, do it, I did it, many before me did it and of course, you can do it.


One last thing, sleep well the night before and try to be as relaxed as possible.


Best of luck to all of you, and thanks a lot for this forum, it has been a great help for all of USMLE takers out there.




Dr. Mohammad Osama Adawi



This article was first posted by the author on Facebook. It was published here with the permission from the author. Image designing by Arnab Mukherjee.



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