How I scored 273 – USMLE Step 1 Experience

How I scored 273

USMLE Step 1 Experience

100th Percentile


Resources used
UKFAPP. Uworld, Kaplan, FA (as a reference, though I did try to read it in the last 2 weeks before the test — brutal, not recommended), Pathoma (got through about half of it in dedicated, but I wish I started earlier so I could finish it), Picmonic (bugs>>drugs).

Study period
5 weeks, from May 2 to June 6.

NBME exams taken; scores
January 15 – 232, Form 12
April 15 – 241, Form 15
May 7 – 251, Form 16
May 17 – 266, Form 17
May 30 – 273, Form 18

NBME average
258, discarding the NBME in January (our school makes us take it, primarily to scare us into studying)

USMLE World %

UWSA exams taken; scores

USMLE-Rx and/or Kaplan %
Kaplan 79%, done from January – May (before dedicated).


Study for class. I didn’t use any Step 1 resources then — I tried Firecracker, and it was way over my head.

Summer MS1-2
Again, I tried some Step 1 studying and just wasn’t ready for it. I did a research project and went to Grand Canyon for a week. It was better than studying.

First half of our year was Bugs+Drugs, Biochem/Endocrine blocks, which were incredibly hard but very high-yield in their own right. I really started studying for Step 1 in particular in January, solely by doing Kaplan Qbank. Started off on Timed to get a hang of how fast I needed to go, then switched to organ system-specific Timed Tutor because it’s way less soul-destroying than Timed. NBME in January thanks to school policy, another NBME in April thanks to school policy.


I finished Kaplan right before the dedicated, so I started Uworld with 5 weeks to go. In retrospect, I liked saving Uworld for the dedicated — it’s so high-yield, it would have been wasted on me before — but definitely do Kaplan and/or Rx in the time before. Most of my day was doing Uworld, again first on Timed Random, but quickly switched to Timed Tutor Random to minimize soul-destroyingness. I would break up the monotony with Pathoma, some light Picmonic review, or finding a classmate to talk things out with.

Test Day

Game day. Pump-up music, excitement and nervousness. Block 1 – bathroom – Block 2 – ten minute break (clif bar) – Block 3 – Block 4 – twenty minute break (snickers, apple, half a red bull) – Block 5 – ten minute break – Block 6 – ten minute break – Block 7. The bathroom between 1 and 2 was unplanned :)


I honestly didn’t focus so much on getting through a bunch of resources, or doing multiple iterations of them — I just tried to understand every topic I came across as well as I could, especially on a fundamental level. That means it took me a long time to get through a Uworld set of 40 – probably 3 hours at the beginning (sometimes more), and closer to 2 later on. My impression was that Step 1 is primarily a thinking test that also requires a ton of baseline knowledge, so while I did brute-force memorize the classic associations, I focused my study toward the idea that the core of the test is to know the basic concepts down cold, and being confident enough to apply them.

Preparation Time

  • 5 weeks

Books Used

  • First Aid for the USMLE Step 1
  • Pathoma

Question Banks Used

  • Kaplan
  • UWorld

Online Resources Used

  • Pathoma
  • Picmonic (Bugs>>Drugs)

NBMEs Used

  • NBME 12: 232
  • NBME 15: 241
  • NBME 16: 251
  • NBME 17: 266
  • NBME 18: 273 (most indicative)

*This post has been used with permission. (source)