USMLE Step 1

From January 4th to March 14th of 2007, I wrote about the process of preparing for and taking the USMLE Step 1. This is a list of topics that I have covered so far in the order in which they should be read.

I have cobbled together the best of my advice into a 6-week guide for the Boards. Expand or contract according to your whim. – updated 3/27/07

Corrections/Suggestions: First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 (2007)


63 Responses to USMLE Step 1

    • Henryblake says:

      Prepare notes visit

      • Jane Bond says:

        I purchased this service from and then had to cancel due to problems accessing the files. Too much hassle – when I contacted the site I had was referred to contact the seller which I did but again was unable to get anything resolved, since the owner never responded. Luckily it was purchased via paypal so I was able to get my money back. Just as an FYI for those who may be interested or if anyone was able to access these files I would really appreciate your feedback. Thanks

  1. Pete Santoro says:

    Hey Topher:

    Cool website. I found the link at the bottom of the USMLE guide you wrote that I just got done reading. The advice you gave, I think, will be very helpful to those following us. Just wanted to say whats up and nice work on this site.

  2. lily says:

    hi topher,
    i find your web site very interesting and useful,because i have to take my exam before sept. 07 and i didnt know where to start…….but i have a question,related to your schedule……you studied from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm,reviewing the material for the step and i was wondering when did you start doing the UW qbank,for how long (1mo or more),and how much time do your spend reviewing the answers that doesn’t interrupt studiyng schedule?

  3. I didn’t sleep much. 8:30-5:30pm were half days, but towards the end those grew to 8:30-9pm. I would come home and relax for an hour before doing questions until 1 or 2am. I went through all the UW questions for a section, marked the interesting ones that taught me something new or had a good table, and then went through them again, copying the material into my FA binder. Burnout potential was high, so I had to take three or four days completely off while I was preparing. It worked out though, and I’d probably do it over again. Thank god I only have to do it once though.

  4. fellow MSII says:

    Hi Topher…
    your webiste is SO informative! I have your errors in first aid page open in front of me as I’m stuying… :-)

    I had a quick question for you (sorry to be a complete stranger asking for advice, but you seem to have an incredible handle on the material and USMLE prep in general…). I’m taking step 1 in 5 weeks, and I’m about 5 days into my studying… I’m working my rear end off here, but I can’t seem to retain anything! I’ll spend days going over pathways, bacteria, drugs, etc etc… but then when I go to do questions all I get is “I know I learned this, but I can’t remember what the answer is…” It’s one thing to understand the concepts, but God help me, I can’t seem to keep all these lists of things in my head for very long…

    Did you have this experience? Does it just get easier as time goes on? I feel like I’m on such a tight schedule, I can’t spend extra time reviewing things when I need to learn something new… but I can’t imagine remembering all of this come test day…

  5. Doug says:

    Hi Topher. Great site. Thanks for doing this. I have a question. You mentioned that BRS Physio was weak or lacking in a few areas. Besides the Cardiovascular site of R. E. Klabunde, what other weak areas are there in BRS Physio, and what sources do you recommend to supplement it? Thanks for your time, and congratulations on your high score. Doug

  6. Danny says:

    Whatever happens–DO NOT DISCONTINUE YOUR BLOGS, either here at RWT or at Student…you GUIDE the rest of us in the FMG world soooooooooo well, and are funny, and RE-energize us when we get unmotivated, or have to deal with our non-American style of teaching here in Prague….please, please, please keep journalling….our sanity, and our student-debt loads and time is critically challenged, so we need you man. You will be one hell of a doctor—please “bring us on board” with you, so that we can always “put things in persepctive” and make sense out of things, being disciplined and flexible along the way (boards, residency, state licensure). If you change blog accounts…please tell us!

  7. Kapil says:

    Hi Topher,ur words are really great and motivating,esp when we are losing our minds!!!! Its good to know there are people out here that go through what we do

  8. Rolo says:

    i read the you did usmle world! did u like it? I am doing horribly on it and i am wondering how that will reflect my step score

  9. […] medical student blogger that i have come to really enjoy over the years. he is infamous for his USMLE Step 1 study guide and is a bit of a Cinderella story because he (worked his butt off and) managed to transfer from a […]

  10. […] is a link to a St. George grad who made 99% and gave a step by step breakdown of his study method. USMLE Step 1 the rumors were true So far the best advice I have received was to study accordingly and then take an NBME self […]

  11. JOHN says:

    Is this guide useful for IMG, I´m a medical doctor from Coombia South America, and I´m preparing for the USMLE STEP 1, but the preparation course with Kaplan costs US3000.


  12. Markus says:

    I don’t suppose you have a suggested schedule for someone who is working 9-5 m-f?? I am similar to you in that I don’t learn by listening, just have to read and make notes.

    If you took 6/52 to prepare studying 8-10 hrs a day, I would have to multiply that by 3 in order to be prepared for the exam if working full time as well. So it looks like 18-20 weeks. ):

  13. […] believe Topher called this “the unexpected suck of the last […]

  14. ken says:

    Don’t take Kaplan. I worked super hard to save the 3200 dollars to pay for the course at the Kaplan center — all they do is show the videos and the worst part is that in the physiology section, the person in the videos just read exactly what’s in the book — I could have done that at home for free. Its a waste of money. Save your money to buy good books for the board — that’s what I am saving up right now after that huge loss with Kaplan.

    • pradeep says:

      you are correct ken ..
      i recently joined kaplan and i also started with this physio…and i`m starting to think as i had made a mistake…will just have to wait and watch

  15. […] follow a modified version of Topher’s suggested scheduled based on First Aid. my online calendar will be updated with a theoretical plan and modified to fit […]

  16. noone says:

    Here u can download all USMLE materials , Videos , Lecture Notes , three steps 1 , 2, 3 tested and working 100 %

  17. Rae says:

    Hi topher,

    Just wondering, did your 6 week schedule work for u? Were u able to break 90th percentile? I’m interested in your insights. I think you have a lot of good advice here. Good luck to ya!

  18. Mr. Gerstmann says:

    Hey dude,
    I want to thank you for you’re site. I used it countless times during my step 1 prep for information and motivation. After 3 months of solid prep I scored a 247/99! THANK YOU!

  19. acceliaBemY says:

    Phat post, great looking weblog, added it to my favs!

  20. Sam says:

    a small fundamental doubt. Do we get to review questions in Step 1, i.e to go back to check answers?

  21. Gina Flowers says:

    Glad I found this site!-Insurance Tips

  22. Devin-Weiss says:

    Barack Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope,” provides a catchy title. It has a taste of bravery mixed with confidence. There’s nothing Pollyanna regarding this. I may well not support every little thing he tells, but he’s our president, as well as for me, he inspires trust. Which will do more for any nation than any number of backroom deals. Hope gives us energy, and energy sustains us through trying times. Boy, we’ve had them. I’m from West Texas, and I did not vote for Bush. When McCain ran against Obama, I used to be a citizen of Arizona, but I gave audacious hope a chance. The fight for progress and laying the foundations of prosperity isn’t over. I’ve come across the quips of those that don’t think Obama is able to do it. But step back a moment. Would anyone have most of us fail only to tarnish the star of an incumbent for whom they didn’t vote? Trying to keep our priorities straight, let’s work together with our president and build our future.

  23. medgirl says:

    I’m super embaressed to admit this, but I am confused with your guide. At one part it says 6 pages a day and at another: 11 pages . I’m sorry to sound absolutely idiotic , perhaps the stress of this exam is getting to me

  24. nina says:

    Hi ,

    I have a question. When you dedicated yourself to learning the FA pages, did this mean researching anything that didn’t make sense, or sort of digesting it and “nod and grin”? I am studying my FA and some things pose questions, perhaps it is because I graduated from med school a year ago and this is my first real review since. Should I find the answers to my questions as I go page by page, or does this mean I should supplement with something else first, ie Kaplan, Pass Program, Basic Sciences books?

    Please help:)

  25. stephensear says:

    You’ve got great insights about self confidence,help,advice,trust,info,reviews, keep up the good work!

  26. Guerrier Jimmy Ronald says:

    Hi Topher,

    I’m a caribbean doctor and graduated from medical school since one year ago.I want to get the Usmle Step 1 and it’s the first time i have to review since medical school.

    However,i got to ask you 2 questions: 1): How do you think i suppose to do in order to register myself for the test and 2): how much money does it cost without using for exemple Kaplan materials?

    I’m really interesting to success the Usmle Step 1 and i do my best to do it.I appreciate all u do on this site and i really hope your answer.Thans in advance and God bless you!

  27. abdullah says:

    plz can any one tell me that being a pakistni medical studnt, whn can i do my usmle step 1.. either afr 3rd profesinal or after final..??

  28. Aa says:

    Thank you for walking though your two years of your life

  29. redunicorn says:

    anyone in search of usmle kaplan step 1 notes contact me at

  30. AALLAA says:

    I did not pass it for 6 times. This will be the 7th and I need to pass it. I am working and I have a fimaily with kids. I have 2-3 weeks only to prepare read again and go the exam. I not bad but I had been working in another countery for 10 years so I passed the basic since is really long time ago. Please help me. I have no more chance. what is the most important topic? MCQ banks? notes

    • MichiganPGY1 says:

      I hate to scare you, but having taken your exam that many times very likely ruined your chances of ever getting a residency in the US. Most places will not accept you if you didn’t pass on the first attempt and with a good score. You might want to reconsider this whole route.
      Best of luck

  31. Ashakrishnan says:

    Iam a d pharm student.d pharm 2nd year one subject failed . D pharm pass akanvendi help cheyamo “pls help me”

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  37. Vanessa says:

    I would like to know where can I take step one Usmle In Puerto Rico o Usa. Because I hearing d possibility to pass the test in USA in more in Usa than pr due d percentile is low

  38. USMLE Stuff says:

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  39. jenny says:

    Is it not good to buy old edition Kaplan Q bank books

  40. rasika islam says:

    Dear writer,
    What a wonderful blog…I absolutely loved all that u had to say and especially the way you said it…but I am a little confused…you say you are from cambodia…and u got through the university after scoring well in your usmle step 1..but are you not supposed to be already studying medicine…when you appear for the exam…m sorry m just confused and curious.

  41. Henryblake says:

    To achieve maximum mark to USMLE 1 visit

  42. MedMCQs says:

    Thank you,
    Try for the best way to prepare for USMLE!

  43. […] USMLE Step 1 – The Rumors Were True – […]

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  46. maxvest says:

    In terms of advice and strategy for Step 1, this is the best resource I have found.

  47. Syeda Areeba Ahmed says:

    I want to do my step 1 in 3rd year of Mbbs . I do my best in studies and perform best Iam in 1st year of Mbbs kindly guid me properly please

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