Study Plan for USMLE First Aid


Score: 254

PREPARATION TIME : 1 and a half year ( on and off ) and 9 months straight

STUDY MATERIALS : Kaplan lecture notes + videos 2012


Rapid review pathology by Edward Goljan 3rd edition with audio lectures ( I loveeee this book.. my favorite book so far )

Pathoma book n videos (awesome videos by Dr Sattar )

Kaplan Q bank

USMLE world (scored 89 % in random timed mode)

First Aid 2015 – multiple times (3 to 4 times) and a quick scan of 2016 when it came out in Jan


I started trying NBMEs from the very beginning of my preparation. For rough estimate u can use no. of correct answers and multiply it by 1.4 and u can get a tentative score just to see where u stand. I am mentioning them in the sequence I took them.

NBME 5 = 224 (starting about 6 months before exam)

NBME 7 = 217

NBME 12 =249

NBME 1 = 230

NBME 2 = 233

NBME 3 =244

NBME 6 = 230

I started doing 1 nbme every 15 days or so. Old nbmes are weird n they have many outdated concepts but the thing that I learned in them was the pattern of questions and my weak areas like biostats n genetics on which I had to put extra effort

3 months before exam, UWSA 1 = 258

1 month before exam NBME 17 = 258. I booked date after NBME 17

NBME 13 = 257

NBME 4 = 248

3 before exam, UWSA 2 = 261

2 days before exam ,NBME 16 = 256 (this I found toughest n most closer to exam )

2 days before exam did NBME 15 too got 250

Solved practice questions on usmle website 2 days before exam. Scored 89 %

I started my preparation right after my graduation in 2013 I completed a few Kaplan books but then my house job started n it was difficult to manage both but I kept reading goljan throughout my house job. After that I studied 6 months for FCPS part 1 n cleared it. I studied all Kaplan books with videos twice n goljan 2nd read during this period. For some topics I even read goljan thrice and did audio lectures. Goljan solidified all my concepts. After that I joined a job at a hospital and completed Kaplan q bank during those 6 months but soon I realized it is impossible to do both at a time so gave up my job for USMLE n starting studying at home. I studied at home for 9 months. During this time I did uworld first read and did FA along. I did Kaplan once again as I was feeling some kind of OCD to revise all da concepts again (after uw , Kaplan was a new experience altogether. I knew all da high yields so it was easier to revise n synchronize concepts with FA so did FA n Kaplan together). Though people thought Kaplan was a waste of time at this point but I needed it to refresh my concepts of last year and for my own satisfaction I did it. Then I did pathoma (though I wanted to revise Goljan but I was running out of time and I had heard great reviews about pathoma ) n pathoma videos indeed turned out to be so easy to understand yet comprehensive. Dr sattar’s way of explaining is awesome. In all this time I kept doing offline NBMEs whenever I used to get bored of too much reading and when I wanted to know where I stand and my weak subjects. I noticed I was weak with pictures especially neuroanatomy. I used google and Kaplan neuroanatomy for that. I read genetics from kaplan and did biostats videos once again. I did uworld biostats subject review once. Then about 2 months before exam started uworld in random timed mode along with FA. I used to read uw and the same topic from FA and used to add new and important concepts in FA. I couldn’t complete whole uworld. I left about 13 blocks explanations and started doing only FA in last few days. I couldn’t complete FA but 80 % was done and I was satisfied with NBME scores so went for exam. A day before exam I didn’t study much. Tried to relax n gather energy, watched FRED tutorial n scanned the high yield stuff on the last pages of FA. Proper sleep is necessary. Though anxiety was at its peak but I tried to sleep as much as I could.

Exam day : I did good breakfast that day, offered prayers then left for exam centre. I reached about an hour earlier so prometric people started my exam earlier. I was feeling relaxed and I thought despite all the stress I have to give my best shot. This is the day for which I have put all my efforts for so long so I can’t let stress overcome me. First two blocks were kind of easy like I am doing uworld or nbme. 3rd n 4th block were extremely tough then 5th and 6th were comparatively easier. Difficulty level was from easy to very hard. Some questions were totally vague, so blind guesses. I got lots of difficult anatomy questions that included radiological scans. Ethics had very close options. Majority comprised pathology and medicine stuff which was doable. Pharma and biochemistry was difficult and questions on lots and lots of mechanisms. Immune was not much and was of average difficulty. So my advice to all of u would be no matter how many times u read FA it’s about how many concepts u gain. How well u understand it. Kaplan goljan n uworld helps u to build concepts and FA is for memorization.

After coming out from exam, I felt it was way difficult than uworld or nbme and I didn’t know what to expect. I went in to suppression for 3 weeks and refrained from recalling any questions. Though the nightmares and exam flash backs kept haunting me but I kept praying.

I wish all of u all the very best for your exams. Don’t give up on your dreams no matter what everyone says. Your dreams and hard work defines you and keep praying. Allah will never waste your hard work.
Courtesy: Myra Khan


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