How I Scored a 266 on the USMLE Step 1 in 6 Weeks


The most important piece of advice I can offer is to take your pre-clinical coursework seriously and to try to learn and integrate as much as possible during this time. Believe it or not, much of what we learn in the pre-clinical coursework–particularly physiology, pathophysiology, and microbiology–is extremely relevant for questions you will be asked on the wards, on shelf exams, and ultimately on the board exams. I cannot stress this enough: having a solid foundation going into my dedicated study time made this SO much easier.

Everyone has different study techniques, but this is what worked for me. In six weeks, I wanted to make sure I got through every page of First Aid, every section in Pathoma, and every question in the UWorld Qbank. I created the schedule below that allowed me to do all of this and finish by the beginning of week six so that I would have some time to review and relax:



The Resources I Used

First Aid: A great resource to learn a little bit about everything. Often not enough to really understand a topic and to fully integrate to get a complicated question right, but a great starting point. Also really helps with association and recall, and has some excellent images/diagrams that are really helpful. ($20-$50 on Amazon depending on how new of a version you use, I used one that was 2 years old).

Pathoma: Dr. Sattar’s lectures are amazing. He’s clear, concise, and teaches really high-yield topics. Plus his voice is really soothing! This type of passive learning was exactly what I wanted/needed to break up some of my long study days. ($85 for 3 months, $99 for 12 months https://www.pathoma.com)

UWorld Qbank: If you can only choose one resource to study for Step 1 – CHOOSE THIS ONE. This Qbank is extraordinarily helpful for integration and even learning new material. You can do up to 40 questions as a time, either on particular topics or random questions, timed or untimed, and with feedback after each question or at the end. I highly recommend making sure you do each question in this Qbank at least once! ($279 for 60 days https://www.uworld.com/purchase.aspx?cid=1)

Practice Exams: I did both Uworld Self Assessments ($70 for both), and two practice NBME exams ($40 apiece). I think that the NBME exams mirror the actual test slightly better than the Self Assessments, but overall both are fairly good approximations. Unfortunately, the NBME exams only give you a score but do not give you answers to the questions you get wrong.

My Approach