Step 1 Score: 222 Alhamdulillah

Exam Date: 26th April 2017

Duration of Preparation: almost 18 Months (September 2015 – April 2017)

4-5 hours in the start

8-10 hours in the last 3 months


📚 Materials Used

  • Kaplan (Biochem, Physio, Immuno, Biostate > Must), (Anatomy, micro, pharma > not necessary)
  • UW + UW Biostat subject review
  • First Aid
  • Pathoma (The great Book)
  • GOOGLE (especially images)
  • Wikipedia
  • Anatomy Shelf notes (Good for quick revision)


First of all,

Some Words for Motivation.

I am writing my experience just to motivate the mothers who are preparing for Step 1 and thinking that it might be impossible…

But it’s not. At every step, it looks like impossible and you may lose your heart; but yes! YOU CAN DO IT! you have to be strong and keep going…

Same was the case with me, I have two kids and managing my study is really hard but trust me, it’s not impossible.


Phase 1

Like all others do –

Kaplan lecture notes and videos (mostly 2014).

Advice (If I had to do it again I would have advised myself) –

Start with UW from the Day 1st; start UW subject wise as you complete each subject from Kaplan and annotate the important points in the book.

You should keep the UW tables, flowcharts, diagrams and histology stuff and anything that you think is difficult, on your cell phone and can revise it repeatedly as it would be easily available on your phone all the time.

(I did this because I found note-taking very time-consuming; I also used soft copy of FA on my Tab that helped me a lot as I kept on adding notes in it).


Phase 2

UW, UW, and UW….

The longest and seemingly never ending phase

I did it 2 complete and 1 half times but in a very wrong way. I learned a lot from my mistakes and shall try to avoid them in my next exam. I did it too many times without filling the gaps, so I couldn’t get benefited accordingly.              🚫NEVER DO THIS MISTAKE!🚫

If you take breaks too many times between and within the blocks, it may seem the test will never end. What you should actually do is to keep on going gradually without taking large breaks).

Advice (If I had to do it again I would have told myself) –

After completing the whole UW with Kaplan subject wise you must do another quick revision from Random UW and at the end of that, you should take an NBME.


Phase 3

Last phase with NBME and strengthening your weak areas.

I must say, it shouldn’t be a separate phase. You should keep on solving NBMEs (offline) whenever you feel bored.

I did it initially and solved NBME-1, 2, & 3; but after that, I ran short of time.

So I jumped to – 

NBME-15, January 2017 (Online) – Scored 194 (very depressing after 2 complete and 1 half reads of UW and 3 reads of FA).

Then I purchased UW again and did another round and another first Aid revision.

By this time, I solved –

NBME-11 (offline) … 203

NBME-17, March (end) Online … 213

UWSA-1 … 226

UWSA-2 … 234

NBME-19, 5 days before exam … 217



Keep on improving your weak areas this will give you Bonus.

Like if you are weak in one subject give it 1 or 2 days time and do it from FA, UW, Pathoma and any other source you’re using.

With a scheduled gap keep doing NBME and improve accordingly

Do not take any prolonged break particularly during this period otherwise, you will stand below.


Image - Quote by Atufa Kaleem
Quote by Atufa Kaleem



Things to bring – 

  • Examination permit
  • NIC
  • Valid passport
  • Soft ear plugs
  • Edibles (especially soft one because you don’t have time to chew and swallow)
  • Some stimulant (energy drinks or coffee or Tea)
  • Painkillers (take it before start and also in the middle)

⇒If possible wear a half-sleeve shirt👚 to avoid waste of time because the security asks you to uncover up to your elbows.

⇒Do not place anything in pockets or even better wear some clothes without pockets.


Advice for Breaks

  • Skip tutorial (do it one day before)
  • Take break after every block
  • Go empty your Bladder
  • Wash your face
  • And have some bites and sips of things you have
  • Encourage Yourself that you can do it.
  • Never take this break more than 10 min.
  • Divide your time accordingly at that time so you don’t run out of time


Exam Experience

Questions were Doable

In my last block, there were 32 questions

You will have ECGs, heart sounds, CXR, and CT scans, they are mostly covered in UW and FA.


✔Things TO DO

  • Make a 📅schedule and stick to it 
  • Take break once a week; go enjoy and refresh yourself 🚴
  • Start UW and NBME as soon as possible 
  • Do as many Qbanks as you can📚
  • Practice questions more and more🖋
  • Use some flash cards; I used “Cram” I found it good.
  • Most important one – believe in Allah and yourself. On the last day, pray Shukrana nawafil for that day has reached and Allah has made you able to nail one of hardest exams in the world.
  • No doubt               👩👦 YOU ARE SPECIAL


❌Things NOT TO DO (you can say my mistakes)

  • Never take too long breaks throughout your preparation like months or weeks ( I did it and it affects very badly; pushes you far behind)
  • Never use too many resources 📚 📚 📚
  • Never delay assessing yourself by NBME  
  • People get scared from NBME, even I did; but as one of my friend said: “There is a success after you cross your fear”. So defeat the fear of NBME and go take it… face your weaknesses and polish them. It’s better to have a low score in NBME than in the real exam.
  • Never book a trial unless you have solved at least one NBME 📋.
  • Do not meet people who demotivate you in the End 😒.


I would say though my score is not as high as I dreamed, I’m writing this just to give you some good advice from my experiences.

Everyone has different circumstances never compare yourself with someone else rather compete with your own self.

I had to face some real bad incidence in my life personally besides studies which affected my performance and memory but still I am blessed and satisfied with my score Alhamdulillah.

I am telling you this because I want to motivate you never lose your heart and never lose your efforts in any circumstances. The only thing which you can do is to DO HARD and SMART WORK.

Just make a plan, do your best and leave the rest to Allah who is the Best Planner. Your plans are according to your wishes and His plan are according to His infinite wisdom. So You need to trust Allah with all your heart and always remember that – He gives you what is best for you.


I want to thank people who made it possible for me – my husband (his motivation, support, and encouragement strengthens me), my mother-in-law supported me through all this; she truly is a blessing for me.

And of course my parents without them and their prayers I’m nothing.

And FEW sincere Friends (because most of them will leave you through this long journey, so don’t worry do

your hit & they will rejoin you).

And my Daughters who pray a lot for the success of their mother 🙂


Take it easy after all it’s not end of life.


Good Luck


Atufa Kaleem D/O Iqbal Ibn.e.Kaleem

Graduation: Nishter Medical University Multan, Pakistan.






Atufa Kaleem



Image Designing

Atufa Kaleem (Author herself)




Published with the permission from the author.



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