Step 1 Prep

Step 1 Prep

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AoA all,

Below you”ll find the AKU formula for Steps that I followed. It doesn”t guarantee a 99. I”ve seen people getting anywhere from 89 to a high 99 after following this formula so a lot depends on how thoroughly you do everything. More importantly a lot depends on luck and prayers.

First Read

Stuff you need:

  • Kaplans for all 7 subjects
  • High yield histo 1st ed (DON”T BUY THE LATEST ONE)
  • High yield embryo 1st ed (DON”T BUY THE LATEST ONE)
  • High yield neuro latest ed
  • High yield gross anat latest ed (only do upper and lower limb from it)
  • BRS Patho latest ed (do brs patho for each chapter before doing that chapter from kaplan patho)
  • Kaplan videos of biochem (all)
  • Kaplan videos of b.s (all)
  • Kaplan video of pharma (autonomic nervous system chapter only)
  • Kaplan video of patho (slides video only)

This should take around 70 days. Around 8 days/subject but this can vary like for anat give 14 days and for B.S 3-4 days for the book and 4 days for the videos. Read the explanations for all the questions regardless of whether you get them right or wrong. Take notes from the videos in your Kaplans as (besides the Patho slides video) you won”t be watching any of them again.

Watch the videos at the speed of X 1.5 or X 2 whatever you are comfortable with. (You may have to pause the video to note down but that”s fine.) The videos are pretty long and you don”t want to watch a video for 3 hours when it can be done in 2. Considering the number of videos this comes out to be a pretty long time (if you do the math) and you wouldn”t want to spend 2 extra days on videos when you can avoid doing that. :P

Make sure you understand everything (this is the main purpose of the first read) and try to learn as much as you can. Don”t get frustrated if you find that you don”t remember much. That”s normal. :) The point is to make the effort.

You study everyday (including weekends) as that is your sole purpose for this year. :P For first read do the “normal” subjects like anat, physio and biochem before the “abnormal” ones like micro, patho and pharma. BS is for the burnt out phase/grad week. 2nd read onwards do in whatever order you please. :)

Second Read

Now you repeat the whole sequence. The difference is that this time after finishing each kaplan for a subject (along with any other relevant books as mentioned above) you will do that subject from ingscasino First Aid as well. Then you”ll do Kaplan Qbook and Kaplan Qbank for that subject. Make notes from it in your first aid. A score of 70 is good. Buy First Aid, Qbook and Qbank a short while before you start them so that you have the latest edition. First Aid comes out every year.

This sums up your 2nd read and should also take 70 days. 4-5 days for each kaplan, 1 day for each first aid and 4-5 days for Qbook Qbank = roughly 10 days per subject but again would be less for B.S and more for Anat and Patho (Patho has a LOT of questions).

After finishing all the subjects and first aid (plus their Qbook and Qbank), give one more read of First Aid but this time the whole book which will take 7-8 days. Make sure you watch the Kaplan Patho slides video again.


Now purchase the online subscription of usmleworld qbank (mcqs only) and start doing full blocks (max questions possible). Do them timed and aim for atleast 3-4 blocks/day. This would take 14 days. Then do the official usmle practice questions. A score in 70s in Uworld is good. Late 70s or more pretty much predicts a 99 unless you do a major screw up in your exam. Take the uworld notes in your first aid. Making them in a separate notebook is not a good idea.

Third Read

This should take a total of 3 weeks. More than that is not a good idea as you will forget stuff otherwise.

Quickly go through all the Kaplans (and the relevant books) in 2 weeks. Then revise First Aid online casinos one more time which takes 4-5 days. While doing first aid do histopath

slides from this website You would need to spend 3 hours/day on webpath or could simply just assign one whole day for it. Webpath also atoledo has brain MRI”s and CT”s with the gross specimens of neuro. Make sure you know where hippocampus, amygdala, internal capsule, caudate, putamen, globus pallidus etc are location on all axial, coronal and sagittal sections.

No need to do NBME, Goljan or those Step 1 totes of ancient history. None of us did these and we all got decent scores mashaAllah.

Last day before the exam

* Do the official tutorial so that you can skip it in your exam (except maybe check the sound quality in your heaphones) and add that time to your break time
* Revise uworld notes if you made separate notes and didn”t put them in your first aid (despite my advice),
* Watch the Kaplan Patho slides video, and look at the kaplan medessential and first aid pictures.
* Do radiology. See below (this amazing website also has imaging for chest, pelvis etc and I did them all) for Brain MRIs

All these I did the day before my exam and it took me like 3-4 hours. But at the end of it I felt content with my ability to handle radiology on the exam.

Also do knee MRI (from grant”s atlas) and lateral chest xray (which I hadn”t done but came in my exam).

Exam Day

Take your NIC, passport, scheduling permit, snacks (take chocolates, juice and a sandwich) and panadol extra. I would suggest taking a break after each block to use the restroom, wash your face, have one wafer of kitkat and/or juice and then head back. This takes roughly 5-7 minutes. It kept me fresh throughout my exam. And I took one tab of Panadol extra after the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th block (I needed caffeine even though I don”t drink tea or coffee as the exam can be quite draining). If you are a coffee/tea drinker don”t forget to take that in a thermos with you. After your 4th block take a slightly longer break to pray Zuhr and have the sandwich (you can”t really eat much though cuz of the exam stress).


Nothing tells you that you are ready for the exam (except maybe your uworld score?). You just follow this protocol, take the exam and then leave the rest to Allah. The key to steps is to stay motivated and study despite whatever else is going on in your life.

Don”t postpone the exam if you are running behind schedule during your first or second read. Rather try to do more in less time as that is achievable. Aim for mid

April for Step 1 and early July for Step 2 so that you are certified in time even if you have to postpone your exam by 2-3 weeks (which you should only do during your 3rd read).

Let me know if you have any further questions. Forward this mail to whoever needs it as I don”t have everyone”s email address. Step 2 advice will come when you guys are done with Step 1. :D

Best of luck and remember me in your prayers!

Take care and Allah hafiz,

Abdullah Khan, M.D.
Class of 2008
Aga Khan University – Medical College

USMLE Step 1
99 (268)
99 (273)
USMLE Step 3
99 (235)

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Nawal 01-11-2010, 20:19

HI Abdullah
One question while you were doing the steps were you doing your internship or did you take a gap year?

dr nadeem 26-12-2011, 22:45

thanx alot for guidance..
i m doin surgery training in pakistan..its my first year in pakistan fcps…
now if i need to do usmle steps and then fellowship in america after completing my training here in pakistan, then wts ur advice for me..???

afifa 17-02-2012, 01:34

plz guide me about anatomy subject
books plus which part i have to do in detail???

Pooja Devi 22-02-2012, 13:41

I’m a fourth year student at Ziauddin university, I’m also interested in preparing for step 1 , I would like to know since I’m doing patho for the 1st time, is it enough for me to go through Kaplan, brs and patho slides only . I haven’t studied it before from a descriptive book like robins .

Anggye 12-03-2012, 23:23

Hi, regarding pharmacology for step one, you mention to study only autonomic, or is there any other topic important to review in pharmacology?


sania khalid 10-05-2013, 06:33

Hey iam a student of 3rd yr mbbs in dow medical college,plz give me details and info,regarding usmle steps and i also want to get info regarding colleges and volunteer progrns in canada.thanks

Chandler Bing 16-04-2014, 22:11

From USMLE to US Residency….Dedicated to medical students pursuing career in US!

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