• Nov 24, 2023   MOKSH Academy

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How to Ace your USMLE Step 1 Examination


Are you an International Medical Graduate (IMG) with dreams of securing a coveted spot in a USA medical residency program? The journey is challenging, but with the right preparation and strategy, you can not only compete with American medical students but surpass them. This guide is your roadmap to excel in the USMLE i.e. United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 examination, a pivotal step on your path to a dream medical residency.

USMLE Step 1 Subjects

Being ready for the USMLE examination is crucial for aspiring doctors and for that, it is needed to know USMLE subjects. To start USMLE Preparation, one should need to know what's on the test and it can be understood by knowing all subjects of USMLE step 1. The exam covers various basic science subjects. The USMLE step 1 subjects are as follows -

  • Anatomy
  • Behavioural sciences
  • Biochemistry
  • Biostatistics and epidemiology
  • Microbiology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Aging
  • Immunology
  • Nutrition
  • Molecular and cell biology

USMLE Step 1 Exam Overview

Understanding the USMLE Step 1 exam pattern is vital for success. The USMLE exam pattern is a crucial part to understand. The important points of the USMLE exam details are as follows -

  • Step 1 is a one-day examination.
  • It consists of seven blocks, each lasting 60 minutes.
  • The number of questions per block can vary but won't exceed 40.
  • The total number of questions for the entire exam won't exceed 280.
  • There's a minimum of 45 minutes of break time included.
  • Additionally, there's an optional 15-minute tutorial.
  • If you finish a block of questions or the tutorial early, you can use that time for breaks.
  • The exam is taken at a registered Prometric center.

Understanding USMLE Step 1 Content

The USMLE preparation is a very crucial part for aspiring physicians. But before doing Preparation for USMLE Step 1, one should know the USMLE Step 1 content.

  • Step 1 evaluates your knowledge of basic medical sciences.
  • It assesses your critical thinking and interpretation skills.
  • The exam challenges you to apply your basic science knowledge to clinical problems.
  • It demands patience, as it's an 8-hour-long examination.

USMLE Step 1 Syllabus

Before starting preparation, it is important to understand the USMLE Syllabus. The USMLE Step 1 syllabus for Indian students consists of 18 core topics. These topics encompass fundamental concepts and principles related to organ systems and individual organs. You can refer to the USMLE Step 1 book to study these subjects. The USMLE Step 1 syllabus includes 8 distinct fields and 5 areas that combine multiple disciplines. Refer to the below table to understand the USMLE Exam syllabus.

System Range
General Principles of Foundational Science 15% – 20%
1. Immune System 60% – 70%
2. Blood & Lymphoreticular System
3. Behavioral Health
4. Nervous System & Special Senses
5. Skin & Subcutaneous Tissue
6. Musculoskeletal System
7. Cardiovascular System
8. Respiratory System
9. Gastrointestinal System
10. Renal & Urinary System
11. Pregnancy, Childbirth, & the Puerperium
12. Female Reproductive & Breast
13. Male Reproductive
14. Endocrine System
1. Multisystem Processes & Disorders 15%– 20%
2. Biostatistics & Epidemiology
3. Population Health
4. Social Sciences
Process Range
Normal Processes 10% – 15%
Abnormal Processes 55% – 60%
Principles of Therapeutics 15% – 20%
Other 10% – 15%

Planning your USMLE Step 1 Timeline

After understanding the syllabus for USMLE, it is important to plan your USMLE step 1 timeline. When you're getting ready for the USMLE Step 1 exam, you need to plan your schedule carefully. It's like making a detailed map for your journey. You should set aside a good 6-8 months for your preparation. This gives you enough time to study properly, understand everything, and practice a lot. The USMLE exam timeline is very important to make.

Having this much time is like having a safety net. If unexpected things come up in your life or you find some topics really tough, you have extra time to handle them without feeling rushed.

Remember, preparing for this exam is more like a long-distance race than a sprint. So, take your time, make a good USMLE steps timeline, and stick to it. It'll make your journey to success on the USMLE Step 1 much smoother.

Things to know before USMLE Step 1

Before planning for the USMLE test, one needs to understand some things that are very important.

  • Step 1 is more like a marathon than a sprint.
  • Be ready for an 8-hour-long exam.
  • Adjust your body clock to match the exam schedule.
  • Get mentally strong for intense focus and stamina.

Best resources for USMLE Step 1

The USMLE Step 1 preparation needs fruitful USMLE resources. There are some USMLE resources for the foundation preparation. These are some of the Best USMLE resources, which are as follows -

  • Utilize resources like Moksh live lectures and AMA sessions.
  • Make use of the Learning Management System MOKSH, including study notes and tests.
  • Solve UWorld questions in system-wise blocks of 40.
  • Reference First Aid.
  • Create your flashcards and revision notes.

How you study is more important than what you study.

It is evident that the USMLE test is very important and to qualify with good marks, every aspirant needs to study properly and sincerely.

  • Create a designated, phone-free study zone.
  • Use active recall.
  • Apply the whiteboard technique.
  • Teach concepts to others.
  • Employ flashcards (try the ANKI app).
  • Use Post-Its, to-do lists, and an accountability spreadsheet.

When to take NBMEs?

  • First Mock: After the first round of UWorld
  • Second Mock: After doing 50% of the Second pass of Uworld
  • Third Mock: After the second pass of Uworld
  • Weekly Mocks One month prior to the Exam Date

Revision Resources for the USMLE Step 1 Exam

The USMLE Step 1 preparation needs fruitful USMLE resources. There are some best USMLE resources for the revision. These step 1 study resources are as follows -

  • Utilize First Aid.
  • Rework UWorld questions (second time, random, timed).
  • Incorporate any other question banks.
  • Review flashcards and study notes.

When to book the exam slot

When choosing when to book your USMLE Step 1 exam, consider your practice test scores. It's best to schedule your exam when your scores are close to your target, ideally within a 15-point range. This ensures you're ready for the real test.

Regarding timing, it's wise to book your exam slot about five months before your planned test date. This early planning provides enough time to prepare without rushing and increases your chances of getting the date you want. This way, you can reduce stress and secure your preferred exam slot.

Preparation for the USMLE Step 1 Test Day

It would be so important for any Medical Aspirant to attempt the USMLE test. Before the USMLE test day, one should do a preparation for the USMLE Step 1 test day. The below tips will be very helpful.

  • Practice by completing eight blocks of 40 questions each day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for at least two weeks, with a designated weekly off day.
  • Simulate exam conditions during your practice sessions.
  • Plan your breaks.
  • Keep your phone away.
  • Allocate a break from 5 pm to 8 pm.
  • Revise incorrect questions for an hour before sleeping.

On the Test Day of the USMLE Examination

Finally, after all the hard work, there will come a day when you have to attempt the USMLE step 1 examination. The USMLE test day is very crucial and it is important that you make the USMLE step test day schedule. The USMLE step 1 test day should be well managed. You can follow these below step 1 test day tips -

  • Plan your journey to the test centre.
  • Arrive 30 minutes before your testing appointment.
  • Bring a jacket.
  • Wear pocketless clothing.
  • Carry your favourite snacks, protein bars, coffee, and energy drinks.
  • Take a five-minute break after every block.
  • Remove your spectacles when you step out for breaks.
  • Celebrate at the end, regardless of the outcome.

By following these steps and staying dedicated to your goal, you can significantly increase your chances of achieving your USMLE Step 1 examination and securing a spot in a US medical residency program.


When aiming for a US medical residency as an International Medical Graduate (IMG), taking the USMLE Step 1 exam is vital. This guide highlights the significance of thorough preparation, smart planning, and effective study methods. It emphasizes the value of practice tests (NBMEs), choosing the right timing, and mimicking the real exam experience. Achieving success in Step 1 shows dedication and creates opportunities for a bright future. Best wishes on your path to success!

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