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USMLE STEP Experiences

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USMLE STEP Experiences

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Welcome to this blog series where we feature a diverse collection of USMLE STEP experiences shared by various medical professionals. These narratives offer a unique glimpse into the journeys, strategies, and personal insights of those who have navigated the complexities of the USMLE STEP exams. Each story is a personal account and reflects the individual experiences and opinions of the authors.  

While we present these experiences to inspire and guide you, please remember that they are based on personal perspectives and may contain subjective viewpoints. Please note that these USMLE STEP experiences may contain inaccuracies, errors, or grammatical issues, for which The Match Guy is not responsible. 

Dive in to explore these varied paths to USMLE success and find valuable lessons that might resonate with your own journey. 

USMLE STEP 2 CK Experience: 275 | Ihsan Shawki Akili

My name is Ihsan Shawki Akili. A medical doctor who graduated from Aleppo University in 2018. 

I also hold a master’s degree in public health from the University of Debrecen. I am currently pursuing an advanced joint master’s degree in public health response to emergencies at both University of Oviedo, Spain, and Karolinska Institute, Sweden. 

USMLE STEP2 CK experience: (Predicted: 264 -270+): Actual score 275

Before I begin, I want to emphasize that this is merely my personal experience. What worked for me may not work for everyone who intends to take the exam. Everyone is different. It is always preferable to read and experiment with various study methods before settling on one. 

Study time: one and a half years of undedicated study time. 6 months of dedicated study time. In total two years. 

Study resources: 90% of my study time was spent on UWORLD, and 10% was spent on first aid. 

Step 1: NOT TAKEN

I started studying step 2 ck as a way of improving my clinical knowledge and staying up to date with the current disease trends and guidelines. I began with First aid in 2019 and finished it in about four months then studied UWORLD bank. Finished both in 2020 in about one year. I was studying together with my work at the hospital as a medical resident doctor in internal medicine and cardiology. Then I booked IFOM 2 instead of Step 2 to check my preparation for the Step 2 exam.  

However, I couldn’t take it because of the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in a lockdown. I Ended up canceling it. As I couldn’t afford to take the step 2 ck. I ended up canceling the whole idea of taking the exam. In 2021, I relocated to Hungary, and later to Spain in 2022 as part of my studies. It was a glimpse of hope that I could manage to save money for the exam. I started over studying for step 2 ck, I did the whole UWORLD bank once more. It took me around 9 months this time to finish it together with my ongoing master’s studies.  

I first took NBME10 as a way of determining my preparation and my percentage was 88%. Then I knew right away I was ready to take the real deal I booked it during my summer holiday to have like two months of dedicated revision time. 

During the two months of revision time, I went over the whole UWORLD graphs, tables, and algorithms in about three weeks of time. I didn’t do any UWORLD wrongs. In the remaining time, I studied the whole CMS forms which I think are very important because they teach you how to think in a proper way and not to think that each and every question is meant to trick you just like UWORLD.  

This habit may ruin your entire preparation, so I suggest stop doing UWORLD within the last three months of your preparation time and switch to NBMEs and CMS. UWORLD is a learning material NOT an exam material. 

The actual exam was most similar to the newest Free 120. 

Things I wish I did:

I wish I could limit my preparation time to just one year of dedicated instead of on-and-off study time. Never listen to people who say this is a long journey and you are not going to score well without step 1. Trust your practice scores even though you will feel horrible after the exam, this is normal. 

Actual score: 275

Assessments were all taken one month before the exam except for NBME 10 which was taken four months before the exam. one assessment per day.

NBME 9: 20 wrongs, 90%. 
AMBOSS self-assessment: 267 
NBME 10: 24 wrongs (88%). 
Oldest Free 120: 87% 
Old free 120:89%. 
Newest free 120: 90%. A week before the exam. 
NBME 11:  22 wrongs, 89%. 
NBME 13: 24 wrongs, 88%. 
NBME 14: 24 wrongs, 88%. 
UWSA 1 and 2: NOT TAKEN 

Exam experience:

The previous day, I couldn’t sleep well. I slept only for four hours. I drank a double espresso shot before the exam, skipped breakfast, and kept two extra cups of coffee in my locker just in case. I packed two bags of nuts and a large bottle of water for my lunch break. As I was taking my exam in Madrid, the check-in process went very smoothly. I took a five-minute break in place after each block. I ran four blocks before taking my first long break. I ate some nuts and drank my third coffee before continuing for another two blocks. Before the seventh block, I took another short break and ate some more nuts, washed my face with cold water, and didn’t drink any more coffee because I was extremely jittery. Then I finished the last two blocks. Don’t worry if you didn’t get enough sleep the night before; it’s normal and it won’t ruin your entire preparation because adrenaline will kick in and prevent you from becoming drowsy or distracted during the exam. Just make sure you have an extra cup of coffee than usual. Reduce your coffee consumption the day before the exam and increase it on the exam day. 

Trust in yourself and in your practice scores.

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STEP 3 Experience: 259 | Ritesh Pahwani

Introduction: Hey there, fellow med students and future Step 3 takers! I’m excited to share my experience prepping for Step 3 with you. Fresh off my Step 2 victory, I decided to tackle Step 3 head-on. In this blog, I’ll walk you through my timeline, study resources, strategies, and all the ups and downs I faced to help you on your own Step 3 adventure. 

Starting Off with UWorld: I kicked off my Step 3 journey around July 2023 with UWorld. Each day, I tried to get done with two 40- question blocks, mainly focusing on the ones I got wrong. I’d work on 4-5 CCS cases every other day, gradually getting the hang of them. But studying and managing chores with my ongoing externship, made it tough to keep a consistent study routine. 

Dedicated Study Time: August rolled around, and I officially entered my dedicated study phase during the second week. I dove back into UWorld, but it took me a bit to find my groove. This time, I decided to review all the questions, although just a quick once-over, with a focus on the ones I missed. 

Studying with a group of friends became a crucial part of my routine. We’d put in 5-6 hours together daily, working through UWorld questions and discussing key topics that kept popping up. Teamwork really does make the dream work! 

Strategic Exam Booking: I planned my Step 3 exam across two days. The first day was set for August 23rd, and the second for August 28th. I left that gap to squeeze in more CCS case practice, aiming to walk into day 2 with great confidence. By this point, I’d tackled about 60% of UWorld and reviewed about half of it. Step 3 often felt too vague, but it turned out that the topics and concepts were pretty much a Step 1 and Step 2 rerun. So, it was more about finding your groove and believing in yourself than learning entirely new stuff. 

Study Resources: My go-tos during this journey were UWorld and UpToDate, though I only used UpToDate for specific topics. I also had my trusty Step 2 notes from my previous prep, which proved surprisingly handy for quick topic refreshers. 

Day 1 of Step 3 had a heavy dose of Step 1 concepts, biostatistics, and ethics. To beef up my biostatistics, I used UWorld’s Biostatistics Subject Review Qbank, a gem that covered all the essentials. Ethics, on the other hand, felt solid, so I didn’t dedicate extra time there. 

Day 2: Like Déjà Vu from Step 2: Day 2 felt like déjà vu from Step 2, loaded with prognosis questions and, of course, those CCS cases. I didn’t switch up my routine much for Day 2, relying on the knowledge I’d gathered while prepping for Step 2. 

For the CCS cases, I stuck to my daily practice routine, knocking out 6-7 cases. But it was the gap between Day 1 and Day 2 where I really honed my CCS skills, clocking in around 60-70 high-yield cases. 

Assessment Exams: As game day approached, I took two assessment exams to gauge my readiness. First up was UWSA2, which I took six days before my exam. I scored a solid 262. I also took the free sample exam, where I landed around 88%. The questions on the free sample were strikingly similar to the actual exam, making it a golden resource. 

Exam Day Feels: After Day 1, I had mixed emotions. The exam felt like chasing shadows at times, and I struggled with time management. But here’s the deal—most folks feel this way on Day 1. It’s all the biostatistics and ethics that can make your head spin. So, even if you feel like you bombed it, don’t sweat it. Chances are, you’re not alone. 

Day 2 was a breeze. The questions were straightforward, and I felt pretty good about my answers. I managed my time well and took short breaks after each block. The CCS cases, especially the 20-minute ones, wrapped up quickly once you solved them, leaving me with longer breaks towards the end. 

Cracking the CCS Cases: For CCS cases, I picked up some tips from YouTube videos. Mnemonics became my trusty sidekick, helping me remember all the key tests and orders efficiently. Having a systematic approach was a lifesaver in these cases. 

In a nutshell, my Step 3 journey was a mix of hard work, planning, and making the most of the right resources. Despite the haze that Step 3 can throw at you, remember to trust yourself and your knowledge. With dedication and a solid game plan, you can conquer Step 3 and take the next big step in your medical career. Best of luck to all you future Step 3 champs! 

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USMLE STEP 2 CK Experience: 275 | Dr. Mathew

Let me emphasize that the key to Step 2 success lies in excelling at Step 1. Despite the USMLE format for Step 1 transitioning to pass/fail, mastering the concepts remains crucial, even if it doesn’t manifest in a numerical score. The mastery of these concepts will serve as building blocks for Step 2 studying. The exam rewards deep understanding rather than rote memorization.

I aimed to limit my resources to UWorld Step 2, Divine Intervention podcasts, and occasional Amboss or Zanki cue cards.

UWorld for Step 2 is invaluable. I recommend completing at least two passes if time allows. The goal should be to achieve 60% correct on the first pass and 70% on the second pass. Utilize timed mode to simulate exam conditions. Aim for two blocks a day and thoroughly review each block afterward. Review all answer choices even if you answered correctly. Use Amboss to delve deeper into concepts that are difficult to understand. I found Amboss to be very good at generating tables to compare and contrast concepts. They also have a quiz feature for tables and images. I focused on completing the first pass of UWorld during the school year and then dedicated two months for exam preparation. I managed to almost complete the question bank twice.

I took one NBME(form 10) one month before my exam where I scored 277, and another one(form 12) a week before and scored 281. I also did the UWSA1 which was an easier exam and the free 120 a few days before the exam where I got 86% correct. I felt quite worried while doing the NBME but it gave me the closest prediction to my eventual score. The real exam is probably more difficult than the free 120 and UWSA but not quite as challenging as some of the NBMEs. I would say to do the most recent NBME as they have many of the drug monographs and ethics questions that could show up on the real deal. In general, they likely reflect the current trends and question styles seen on the real exam. The day before the exam, prioritize reviewing medical statistics. Wish you the best of luck!

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Our tutors (who scored 260+) will guide you throughout the whole exam, create an individualized study plan for you, help you pick the best study resources, and guide you with subject-specific tutoring if you have difficulty understanding any USMLE concepts. Our tutoring is risk-free. If you are not happy after the first hour, you get your money back. Explore our USMLE Tutoring options HERE. 

Good luck on your USMLE exams. 

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UWorld for USMLE STEP 1 and STEP 2 CK

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UWorld for USMLE STEP 1 and STEP 2 CK

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UWORLD For USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK

In this blog post, I will share the best strategies to use UWorld to study for STEP 1 and STEP 2CK. There are five common decisions that students have to make when using this resource, and what they choose can have a huge impact on their scores.

Is it better to do UWorld Tutor or Timed Mode?

In tutor mode, you solve a question, check the explanation, study the question, and then go to the next question. In timed mode, you finish a block of questions and then see explanations.

I recommend timed mode because the exams are timed. You’ll have multiple blocks of questions that will each be an hour. If you practice for the exam in timed mode, you’ll be practicing for how the exam will feel when you take it. It’s like training for a marathon—you would likely run long distances to train for the marathon rather than training for the marathon by doing 100-meter sprints.

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How many UWorld blocks should I study a day?

I recommend you do 1-2 blocks of questions per day, depending on how many questions you can finish in a day. If you can do 80 questions (2 blocks), you would do those questions in the morning and then take the afternoon to study those questions, read the explanations, figure out how you can improve, and identify potential gaps in your knowledge.

Should I study UWorld Random vs System-based?

My preference is to do system-based questions. If you’re studying a topic, it makes more sense to study related topics together to connect the dots. Studies show that we learn better when we can make connections across material, and making these connections helps with our ability to recall information.

Some might suggest that, since the exam is random, you should study randomly. Studying in the random mode, although similar to the exam, doesn’t help you make those connections between questions in the same system in the studying phase. You will have time to do random-style questions. You can do them when you review UWorld, when you do NBMEs, and when you take practice exams. When you are learning, it makes more sense to do it systematically.

UWorld is a studying question bank. The purpose isn’t to test yourself—it’s to study. If you’re studying, it makes more sense to make those connections. Save the random questions for later.

Should I read vs. study UWorld explanations?

Some students say they complete hundreds of UWorld questions a day. Many of these students are just seeing if they got the question right or wrong, or they are just skimming the explanations.

My advice is to study the explanations carefully. You might know the answer to the question, but the explanation could have more information about the answer that could help you with a question later when you take the real exam. You need to expand your knowledge as much as possible so you can get a higher score.

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Should I read or skip the wrong choices of UWorld ?

Many students don’t look at the wrong choices. If you look at the wrong choices, UWorld will explain to you why the choice is wrong. That could be key to answering a question or eliminating a wrong choice in the exam.

If you’re taking the exam and they give you multiple options and you’re not sure, you might need to differentiate between two similar diagnoses. Reading the information for the wrong choices might help solidify knowledge that will come in handy on the test.

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Should I take notes while studying UWorld?

UWorld is expanding rapidly. There are over 3000 questions in the question bank for each exam. It’s extremely challenging to go through these questions more than once, but it’s also challenging to remember everything from the first round of studying.

You’ll need to have some type of review that makes the information of these questions more manageable, and that is taking notes. Taking notes, however, is not necessarily by writing down notes in a notebook. You can see a video that I made about taking notes for USMLE exams by following this link. And always save time for reviewing your notes.

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Tip: How to take notes

Try to avoid writing down notes. Takes too much time and isn’t efficient. In UWorld, there is a notebook where you can copy and paste information, text, and images. You can organize the information by subject and then go back and review that part of your notebook.

Use flashcards when you can. You can create them through UWorld itself. You can highlight the question and take it to a flashcard and create the specific deck for questions you want to review. These can help you remember tricky concepts.

Choose which questions to review carefully. It can be hard to review 3000 or 4000 questions, but you could flag specific ones for review. If a question is particularly challenging or you thought it was something you should go back to, you can flag it and return to it later. It’s much more manageable to review 400 or 500 questions than the entire question bank.

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Summary

You should think of the UWorld question banks as a study material, not a testing material. For that reason, I prefer timed mode with systematic questions. You should pay a lot of attention to the explanation and the wrong choices. Before you begin, think about what kind of study system would work for you (flashcards, flagging questions, notes) so you can review important UWorld materials later.

If you’re struggling with biostatistics concepts, I have a Biostatistics for USMLE course that you can check out here. It includes lessons, practice quizzes, and a specific focus on abstracts.

If you are confused about the USMLE process, we have a course that will take you through every step of the USMLE journey.

Finally, if you’d like to get this information in a video form, check out this link.

I hope this blog post helps you better use UWorld as a study resource and ace both your USMLE STEP 1 and STEP 2 Ck. I wish you best luck on your exam!

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STEP 3 Study Materials: How to Study for STEP 3? 267 USMLE STEP 3 Experience

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STEP 3 Study Materials: How to Study for STEP 3? 267 USMLE STEP 3 Experience

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By Malke Asaad and Firas Bahdi

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Choosing the right STEP 3 study materials can be challenging! In this post, I will discuss how to study for STEP 3 based on my 267 experience on the USMLE STEP 3 exam.

What is the STEP 3 examination?

The USMLE STEP 3 is the final examination of the USMLE series. It tests your understanding of both basic biomedical and clinical sciences.

What are the USMLE Step 3 requirements?

The requirements for the USMLE STEP 3 are to be a medical graduate and have completed both STEP 1 and STEP 2CK. For international medical graduates, they should also be ECFMG certified.

What is the pass rate for USMLE STEP 3?

The current USMLE STEP 3 passing score is 198.

What is the average score for USMLE STEP 3?

The average (mean) score of STEP 3 is 228 with a standard deviation of 15. Your USMLE STEP 3 score report will have your performance by systems, by Physician task, and by CCS cases.

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What are the STEP 3 CCS cases?

CCS stands for Computer-based Case Simulations and they are interactive cases in which you get presented with a history and vital signs, then you start ordering physical examinations, diagnostic testing, imaging, treatment options, monitoring, and counseling. I have made a detailed video on the CCS cases that you can check

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What are the STEP 3 Study Materials?

There are books and question banks available to prepare for the STEP 3 exam.

Available books include Master the boards Step3, First Aid STEP 3, Kaplan books STEP 3, and others. You can also review the materials you studied for STEP 1 and STEP 2CK.

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Master the Boards USMLE Step 3: by Conrad Fischer

This book is 608 pages and is sold by Kaplan Education Publishing. It is structured in a system wise manner going over the main concepts tested in the exam. It has a rating of 4.5/5 on amazon.

An Amazon link for the latest (2020) 6th edition of Master the Boards USMLE Step 3: https://amzn.to/3n468Hy

First Aid STEP 3

This book is part of the First Aid series, and similar to other First Aid books, it is a review book going over the high yield concepts tested in the exam. The book

is 512 pages and has a rating of 4.6/5 on amazon.

An Amazon link for the latest (2018) 5th edition of First Aid STEP 3 : https://amzn.to/32xsIz1

The Kaplan books (USMLE Step 3 Lecture Notes)

More detailed study material from the Kaplan company divided into two books (932 pages). It has a rating of 4.4/5 on amazon.

An Amazon link for the latest (2021-2021) 3rd edition: https://amzn.to/3n5w5Xm

 

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U World STEP 3 and Amboss STEP 3 are among the common question banks.

USMLE STEP 3 U World 

U World STEP 3 has around 1600 questions similar to the exam style divided into Foundations of Independent Practice (FIP) and Advanced Clinical Medicine (ACM) and is also divided into different systems. However, you can choose the way you would like to solve the questions in, randomly or by systems.

The U World STEP 3 subscriptions is currently 399$ for 90 days, 449$ for 180 days, 549$ for 360 days. This subscription also includes 2 self-assessments and the CCS cases which I will cover in the next paragraph.

AMBOSS STEP 3 

AMBOSS STEP 3 has around 800 questions similar to the exam style. To have access to AMBOSS STEP 3, you need to pay the membership ($89/year) in addition

to the subscription for the question bank which is 79$ for 30 days, 149$ for 90 days, 229$ for 180 days, 299$ for 360 days. This however, will give you access to all they USMLE question banks (including STEP 1 and STEP 2CK).

So to compare the price with U World STEP 3 for the 3 months’ subscription, it would be 399$ for U World STEP 3 and for 238$ AMBOSS STEP 3. So AMBOSS STEP 3 is cheaper but has only half of the questions available in U World STEP 3.

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 U World STEP 3AMBOSS STEP 3
Number of questions≈1600≈800
CCS casesYesNo
3-months subscription399$179$
6-months subscription449$289$
Full year subscription549$388$

What study materials and resources are available for the STEP 3 CCS cases?

For the CCS cases, you can use the CCS cases included in the U World STEP 3 question bank subscription or CCScases.com. You can also use the STEP3 CCS course that I created

U World STEP 3 CCS

U World STEP 3 CCS bank has 41 practice cases and 51 interactive cases. The practice cases give you information about a case and what type of orders you should put in. However, they are not interactive (not similar to how you get tested on the exam). The 51 interactive cases are similar to the exam and you solve them using a platform similar to the exam platform. No scoring is available when solving the interactive cases but the right management is provided in addition to information about the presented disease. They also don’t show you how the cases are solved in real life.

CCScases.com

CCScases.com has 105 cases (2 are free). Although they provide you with a score, the score validity (if it correlates with the actual exam) is not confirmed and you should not base your assessment on that score. They also don’t show you how the cases are solved in real life (just written feedback is provided).

STEP 3 CCS course

This is a course I created since just READING how to solve different interactive cases might not be enough. In this course, I show you how you approach each case using the exam platform explaining each step of the process and available options in the software. The course goes over the details of 6 cases in addition to a final lesson discussing different high-yield concepts. The course price is $49 for 6-month subscription with 100% refund if you are not satisfied within 3 days of your order.

The STEP 3 CCS course ($49 USD)

The STEP 3 CCS course is designed to help you navigate the CCS part of the USMLE STEP3 exam, Check out our STEP 3 CCS Course
CCS CasesU World STEP 3CCScases.comSTEP 3 CCS course
Number of CCS cases51 interactive cases and 41 practice cases1056
Shows you how the CCS cases are doneNoNoYes
3-months subscriptionIncluded in the UW question bank subscription (399$)75$59.99$
6-months subscriptionIncluded in the UW question bank subscription (449$)85$Not available
Play Video

There is also a YouTube video I made on how to approach the CCS cases of STEP 3 in addition to a demonstration of a practice case using the exam platform.

What study materials and resources did I use to study for STEP3?

 

Business woman hand writing on a notepad with a pen in the office.Web banner.

The main STEP3 study material I used to prepare for STEP 3 was the U World STEP 3 question bank. I feel U World STEP 3 was more than enough given the limited time we have to prepare for STEP 3 as long as you carefully review all explanations. So to answer the question of whether UWorld is enough for Step 3? U World STEP 3 is more than enough to get a great score. If you are having difficulty with the CCS cases or you would like to make the preparation easier and more interactive, check out my STEP3 CCS course as well which is only 3 hours.

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What assessment tools did I use?

The main assessment tools I used were the U World STEP 3 self-assessment 1 and 2 which were close to my final score. Each of these self-assessments is four blocks.

These self-assessments are only for the MCQs part of the exam. For the CCS cases, there is currently no self-assessment tool. There are six CCS cases available for practice on the USMLE website with some written feedback on the case but they do not have assessment of your performance or show you how they are solved.

  • You can download the exam program from this page.

How long does it take to prepare for STEP 3 USMLE?

Generally, students take between 2 to 8 weeks to prepare for Step 3. However, the time to prepare for USMLE STEP 3 varies based on your prior knowledge but. For me, I had a good foundation from my STEP 1 and STEP 2CK; therefore, it took me around four weeks to prepare for this exam.

Do I need STEP 3 for residency?

STEP 3 is not required to apply and start residency in the US. However, some applicants choose to take STEP 3 if they did not get a high score on STEP 1 and STEP 2 CK to show program directors that they got a better score on STEP 3.

Does USMLE STEP 3 score matter? How important is the score of STEP 3?

I don’t feel that the STEP 3 score matters too much for fellowship applications as long as you are around the average. Therefore, don’t spend too much time trying to get a very high score. However, for those who scored low on STEP 1 and/or STEP 2CK, they might consider taking STEP 3 before applying to the match® to compensate for the low scores on STEP 1 and/or STEP 2CK. This might increase their chances of matching. But generally speaking, STEP 3 scores are not that important. Make sure to pass STEP 3 from the first time.

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Is USMLE STEP 3 hard?

USMLE STEP 3 is not as hard as USMLE STEP 1 and STEP 2 CK. However, you still have to prepare for it and familiarize yourself with the CCS cases which are unique to this exam.

My final advice for students studying for STEP 3

Use U World as your main studying material. Practice CCS cases as much as possible as they are the unique aspect of this exam. You can also watch videos about the CCS and attend my CCS course. For IMGs, try to take the exam before residency to save yourselves time during residency.

What does STEP 3 consist of? How is the exam structured?

The STEP 3 exam is a two-day exam:

  • The first day tests Foundations of Independent Practice (FIP) and comprises 232 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) divided in six blocks. You will encounter a good portion of biostatistics questions. Each block is for one hour and has 38 to 39 questions. So, the first day in total is six hours plus additional 45 minutes break. There is an additional five minutes that can be added to the break if you skip the tutorial.

  • The second day focuses on assessment of Advanced Clinical Medicine (ACM) and has questions both in MCQs and Computer-based Case Simulations (CCS) style. The first portion of the second day is divided into six blocks. Each block is 45 minutes and includes 30 MCQs. After you finish the six blocks, you will have 13 CCSs, each is 10 or 20 minutes of real time. There is a minimum of 45 minutes of break time for the second day (plus 10 minutes if you skip the tutorial). In most cases, the CCS cases end before the allocated time which increases your break time. So generally, the second day my run between 8 to 9 hours.

You can schedule the second day of STEP 3 within 14 days of the first day. I had my second exam day week a week after the first day because this was the closest available date. I recommend having at least a one-day break between the two exam days if possible.

What is the USMLE STEP 3 cost?

The Step 3 fee is $895

USMLE STEP 3 registration is detailed in our other post about this topic:

USMLE STEP 3 registration and scheduling

Good Luck Everyone!

By  Firas Bahdi  and Malke Asaad

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USMLE STEP 3 registration and scheduling

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USMLE STEP 3 registration and scheduling

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This post will go over how to register for the USMLE STEP 3 and the Prometric scheduling process.

You can register for the USMLE STEP 3 from the FSMB website. Click on Login under USMLE STEP 3 as shown in the figure.

Or by clicking on USMLE STEP 3 from this link

Then you will be asked to create an account and additional questions about your education.

Research Course

The research course will teach you how to take a research project from idea to publication and in which I will share my 3-year experience of clinical research in which I had over 100 publications and 80 presentations.

To complete your registration for STEP 3, you need to pay the STEP 3 exam fee and certification of identity form (CID). The website will provide you with a pdf file that you can notarize online. Click Here is the link to the file

The notarization process will cost around 25$. Here are some links for notary services:

https://www.notarize.com/

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After 3-5 days, you will receive your USMLE STEP 3 scheduling permit, which you MUST bring to the exam with you. The CIN (Candidate ID #) is the number you put on the computer to start your STEP 3 exam.

To schedule your STEP 3 exam day, go to the Prometric STEP 3 scheduling here

USMLE STEP 3 Overview

https://www.usmle.org/step-3/

FSMB USMLE STEP 3

https://www.fsmb.org/step-3/

By  Malke Asaad

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Best Resources for USMLE STEP 1! How to Study and Prepare for STEP1?

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Best Resources for USMLE STEP 1! How to Study and Prepare for STEP1?

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What are the best resources for USMLE STEP 1? How to Study and Prepare for STEP1? In this article, I will answer these two questions and share with you a USMLE STEP 1 study guide to show you the most popular resources and materials that helped me score +260.

How to Choose the Best Resources for USMLE STEP 1?

Before we dive into the different books and resources, you need to understand that the choice of study resources is highly individual. A student who will prepare for the USMLE STEP 1 exam in 3 months will not use the same resources as a student who has one year to prepare for the STEP 1exam.

A student might feel very confident with one subject that they would want to go directly to First Aid and UWorld, while another student might need to spend more time reviewing STEP 1 books and watching STEP 1 lecture videos before they start solving questions.

To know what resources are best for you, start by asking yourself some simple questions: Do you have a solid knowledge of the STEP 1 materials? Are you a fresh graduate? How long was it since you studied the basic sciences? Was your medical school in English or your native language? Were you an average student or a top-class student? How high do you want to score? How much time do you have to prepare for the step 1 exam?

Once you have a clear idea about these questions, you can tailor your STEP 1 study plan based on your needs.

First Aid STEP1: Is it enough for the USMLE STEP1?

First Aid STEP 1 is a great review book. However, it will not provide you with explanations to form a solid understanding of the complicated STEP 1 concepts. First Aid STEP 1 is basically a pack of all the information you need for the USMLE STEP 1, condensed into 860 pages. You can think of it as a collection of all the high-yield topics that are tested on the exam, collected and presented to you in this book.

The first half of the First Aid STEP 1 covers the general principles tested on the USMLE Step 1 exam (behavioral science, statistics, microbiology, immunology, biochemistry, general pathology, general pharmacology).

In contrast, the second half of the First Aid STEP 1 is divided system-wise, where the book takes one system, and it covers it from its anatomy and embryology, continuing to its physiology and pathology, and ending with the pharmacology related to that system.

First Aid STEP 1 is always updated to reflect the newest tested materials on the STEP 1 exam. That’s why I recommend reading the latest version of the First Aid STEP 1 before taking your exam.

📚🛒: Here is the link for the latest version:

The First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2021

https://amzn.to/3NdB2KS

You will realize that the First Aid STEP 1 is best with topics that need memorization, comparing and contrasting, and plenty of mnemonics such as Microbiology. On the other hand, subjects like physiology and biochemistry, that need a deep understanding and knowledge of the mechanisms, need to be read from other resources before going to First Aid STEP 1 (unless you have a solid understanding of these topics from your medical school). So one strategy is to use resources other than First Aid STEP 1 to have a general idea about the topic, and then memorize the take-home points from First Aid STEP 1.

Some students prefer to use First Aid STEP 1 after they finish their first read of other STEP 1 materials while others like to incorporate First Aid STEP 1 with studying other STEP 1 resources. We will write a separate blog post about the best strategy to use First Aid STEP 1 and other resources.

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Best Anatomy Resources for USMLE STEP 1

Kaplan STEP 1 Book: Anatomy

The Kaplan STEP1 lecture notes and videos are useful resources to understand anatomy for STEP1. The book is 652 pages, and it is divided into three main sections: Early embryology and histology, Gross anatomy, which is further divided by system, and neuroscience. The neuroscience part of the Kaplan book is really good. This book can be used as a resource to build your base in Anatomy before you go to First Aid STEP 1 and UWorld.

USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes 2021: Anatomy:

https://amzn.to/3sND8oM

High-Yield™ Neuroanatomy 

If you have a weakness in neuroanatomy, especially in the spinal cord and brain stem anatomy, you can rely on other resources in addition to Kaplan STEP 1. I used High Yield for neuroanatomy, a 200 pages comprehensive book of neuroanatomy https://amzn.to/3xl3iCW

Anatomy Videos

You can watch videos in the areas that you need better understanding rather than watching the whole series of videos of certain STEP 1 resource. I watched a few Kaplan videos and Dr. Najeeb’s lectures for spinal cord and brain stem anatomy. They were so helpful that I can still remember them many years after.

Anatomy Images and Atlas

Studying anatomy without clear, colored, and labeled images can be a torture. While you can always use Google images to accompany your favorite book, the Netter interactive atlas of human anatomy is an amazing resource that I used in my preparation. It is so elegant, and it covers everything you need for the USMLE Step 1. You don’t need to go through the whole Atlas but rather use it as a visual supplement to other resources you are using. For example, if you are studying the anatomy of the GI tract from the Kaplan books or First Aid, you can open the Atlas on the GI images to facilitate learning.

Link for the Netter Interactive Atlas of Human Anatomy: https://amzn.to/3azaVMo

Other good resources for anatomy images (I recommend picking one and use it throughout your studying):

Gray’s Anatomy for Students Fourth edition:

https://amzn.to/2QUCA3c

Gray’s Atlas of Anatomy (Gray’s Anatomy) 3rd Edition

https://amzn.to/3gxFLst

Atlas of Human Anatomy (Netter Basic Science) 7th Edition (Book)

https://amzn.to/3evg2OM

Should I read expansive books for embryology and histology?

 

While there are certainly some good books to cover these subjects, especially from the BRS series and the High-Yield series, I didn’t feel the need to waste the limited time reading extensive books about them. They are definitely important topics for the exam, but for me, the few pages in the Kaplan books with the First Aid STEP 1 and UWorld were enough to cover everything important for the exam purposes. I would only recommend going to a dedicated reference to clarify an ambiguous topic that you couldn’t understand well from the First Aid STEP 1 or Uworld.

Here are links if you wanted to check other resources

High-Yield Embryology (High-Yield Series) Fifth Edition

https://amzn.to/3ni1jdM

BRS Embryology (Board Review Series) Sixth Edition

https://amzn.to/3dNFrnB

BRS Cell Biology and Histology (Board Review Series) 8th Edition

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Best Biochemistry Resources for USMLE STEP 1

 

Unfortunately, molecular biology and biochemistry for STEP1 are one of the subjects that are hard to read directly from the First Aid STEP 1 without proper explanation. Therefore, it is highly recommended to read it from additional resources prior to studying it from First Aid STEP 1 or UWorld (unless you have a solid understanding of these topics from your medical school).

There is almost a consensus on the best initial biochemistry resource to prepare for the USMLE Step 1 exam: Kaplan. As we know, biochemistry is huge, with many enzymes and metabolic pathways. Therefore, it is essential to know what to focus on when you study. Reading the biochemistry Kaplan book alone might not be enough to recognize what is important. However, the videos are full of golden tips and are recommended to highlight the crucial information for the exam day. After the first round of biochemistry Kaplan lecture notes, you can go to the next stage with First Aid STEP 1 and UWorld.

The biochemistry Kaplan book (692 pages) also covers genetics and the information in this book is more than enough for your genetics preparation when combined with First Aid STEP 1 and UWorld.

USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes 2021: Biochemistry and Medical Genetics:

https://amzn.to/3xlG6o3

Best Microbiology Resources for USMLE STEP 1

 

The good news is that microbiology is one of the subjects that is very well covered in your First Aid with plenty of mnemonics that will make studying microbiology easier for you. However, if microbiology is not your forte or you learned it a long time ago, you might want to consider other resources to refresh your information.

Best Pharmacology Resources for USMLE STEP 1

 

I used Kaplan’s book and videos to understand the concepts of pharmacology and the mechanisms of medications. They were beautifully explained there. The book is divided by system, so you can pair it with First Aid. The book is 500 pages but it is well written and goes fast.

Link: https://amzn.to/32HoSTY

Additionally, flashcards can always be a good option to create while studying if you struggle with names.

Lippincott for pharmacology is a very renowned resource for pharmacology. I didn’t personally use it, I felt it was  too detailed for the Step 1 exam, but many students found it useful. It is 576 pages long. Link: https://amzn.to/32LfQFC 

 

 

Best Pathology Resources for USMLE STEP 1: Golgan vs. Pathoma

 

This is a question asked by many students at the beginning of the preparation for the USMLE Step 1 exam, especially that pathology is one of the most heavily tested areas in the exam and has the biggest share of the exam questions. Most students argue that Pathoma is more than enough for the purposes of the Step 1 exam, while Golgan is a more in-depth review of Pathology. Golgan might be more time-consuming, but it could be worth it in the long run. Personally, I read both books, and these are the main differences between them:

 

You can also use the Kaplan book or the BRS book of Pathology if you like. They are not as high-yield as pathoma and don’t have as many photos and explanations as Golgan. With the availability of better and more focused Pathology resources, there is no need to spend time on other resources.

The Kaplan book is 577 pages.

USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes 2021: Pathology: https://amzn.to/3dOVp0Y

The BRS book is 464 pages.

BRS Pathology (Board Review Series) 6th Edition: https://amzn.to/3ex2X7k

 

Best Biostatistics Resources for USMLE STEP 1

 

Biostatistics is a topic that depends on logic and on understanding the concepts very well to be able to solve the exam questions. Reading abstract concepts from the STEP 1 books might be a little challenging without proper explanation. I found Kaplan videos to be very efficient and effective in simplifying the biostatistics terms and helping you get a good grasp of what you need to know for the exam. With the STEP 1 Kaplan videos, I read both the Kaplan book and the High-Yield book of Biostatics. They are very short, and you can read them easily after understanding the concepts from the videos. Links to the books below:

High-Yield Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Public Health (150 pages) https://amzn.to/3aFgCrU

Kaplan biostatics is in the behavioral science book (less than 50 pages): https://amzn.to/3xhGy6V

Besides, UWorld STEP1 has a separate Qbank, called “Biostatistics Review,” which is available for 25$. Since memorization will not help you much with the research scenarios and the abstract questions on the exam, the more you solve questions, the better you will be in approaching the questions on the exam. Keep in mind that biostatistics questions take more time than other questions to answer on the exam day, so if you want to be faster and save that valuable time, I would recommend answering the UWorld Biostatistics review Qbank. Other students did not find much value of the Biostatistics Review Qbank after solving the UWorld STEP1 Qbank.

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Best Ethics and Behavioral Sciences Resources for USMLE STEP 1

 

For ethics and behavioral sciences, I found the UWorld questions, Kaplan ethics videos, and the “100 cases by Conrad Fischer” enough to know the principles you need while answering ethics questions on the STEP 1 exam. Everything that follows is just common sense. The 100 cases might seem a lot, but the book of Conrad Fischer is very easy to read with practice questions, and you can go through it in a day or two.

Kaplan Medical USMLE Medical Ethics: The 100 Cases You Are Most Likely to See on the Exam (216 pages) https://amzn.to/3xoqlg0

USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes 2021: Behavioral Science and Social Sciences: https://amzn.to/3xhGy6V

Some students also recommend the ethics YouTube videos from “dirty medicine.”

 

 

Best Video Resources for USMLE STEP 1! Do I need to watch lectures while reading the books?

 

Kaplan lectures and “Boards and beyond” lectures are available for all the step 1 courses. As mentioned above, for some subjects, lectures can be extremely helpful to know what is high-yield for the STEP 1 exam. However, you should keep in mind that watching videos can double or triple the time you need to cover a topic. Therefore, you should choose your videos carefully not to waste the limited time you have to prepare for the exam. From my experience, the Kaplan videos of biochemistry and biostatistics and the Pathoma videos for pathology are very high yield.

Other lectures you can watch are Dr. Najeeb’s lectures (https://www.drnajeeblectures.com/) , which are more like classroom lectures. They are very time-consuming even if you speed it up, but personally, I loved them. I would only recommend them for the topics that you are very weak at.

 

Best Question banks for USMLE STEP 1! Which Qbank should I invest my money on?

 

With all the reading you do with your preparation for USMLE Step 1, it is very important to solve questions to get familiar with the STEP 1 exam style and build your test-taking strategies. Answering as many questions as you can is crucial to solidify the information you read or listen to and test yourself on your learning. Some of the Qbanks available are: UWorld STEP 1, Amboss STEP 1, USMLE Rx Qbank, Kaplan STEP 1 Qbank, Pastest.

In summary, if you have time to solve only one bank, UWorld STEP 1 Qbank is your best bet. USMLE Rx can help if you have difficulties memorizing the First Aid. Amboss STEP 1 Qbank seems to have increasing popularity lately, especially with the great and easy-to-use library that it has. I answered a few questions from Kaplan Qbank and Pastest, but I did not feel they were as high yield as the other STEP 1 Qbanks.

The NBMEs (each is four blocks of 40 questions) and USMLE sample questions (3 blocks of 40 questions) are to test your performance before the exam, in addition to the UWorld STEP 1 self-assessments. We will have a detailed post on assessment tools.

Is it true that UWorld STEP1 and First Aid are enough? 

Many students like to start with UWorld STEP 1 as early as possible, while others prefer to answer questions only after studying the subject and feeling comfortable with it. There is no right and wrong here. The advantage of starting with the Qbank early and incorporating it from the beginning with your studies is to get an idea of how the information will be presented on the exam, which helps you direct your study in the right way. On the other hand, answering questions without having any idea about the subject will not give you the maximum benefits you could get from the questions. You will not be able to assess where your gaps are and where you need to focus on because everything is new to you. The best way is to have a gradual shift by starting to build knowledge before proceeding to solving questions and reviewing First Aid. As you approach your exam, this will change, and you will start focusing more on solving as many questions as you can and focusing on First Aid. As we discussed above, if you have a strong foundation from your medical school about the topics covered in STEP1, you can start directly with First Aid and UWorld of STEP 1.

By Anas Khouri and Malke Asaad