Since 2022 January, the scoring system of USMLE has been changed to Pass or Fail, over 3 digit numerical score result given previously, as announced by ECFMG on their website. The change has taken into effect. What student must know is, passing USMLE is not an easy thing, you need to study as hard as before though the pressure will be lesser since you don’t need to ace 260s, specially for International Medical graduates. Also passing score has been raised to 196, a two point increase over previous 194.
So, what are the points to ponder on-
Did the exam get Easy?
Answer is No. The difficulty and the question style and syllabus remains similar and despite no scoring, failing is still a disaster.
Do I need to do simulation tests and online questions ?
Yes, it is still an 8 hours long marathon exam. Exam not just tests your knowledge but your patience, problem solving capacity under pressure, diligence and capacity to correlate.
Should I just pass and focus entire time on Step 2?
Step 2Exam is not easy either, or without a good foundation of step 1, just jumping into Step2 won’t be a good idea.
Strategy- New or Old
Strategy of passing USMLE for me still seems the same. The Gold resources. But the time allotment for exams can be shortened. When you are ready with basic concepts, have done UW and revisions, you can test your self through NBMEs, Free 120 questions and then decide.
GOLD Resources for USMLE : UFAP- Uworld First Aid Pathoma
If you are a fresh graduate , UFAP will be enough to conquer step1 USMLE. Start doing Uworld along with First Aid. Remember every year, books are updated with new high yield facts and even 2-3 marks may be a whole world worth of marks. If you are not near the exams and are using older editions, it is best recommended to switch to 2022 First Aid.
First Aid USMLE 1 is basically a high yield super summary of all things you need to know for exams. Many things may be lacking , you will need to annotate on it from resources and UW, Amboss, BnB, Bricks etc. It should be used as a revision tool.
Uworld is a learning tool. Learn to give the exam, learn to solve problems and learn by solving questions. But you have to know, uworld USMLE is also the most straining part of the preparation. It drains you, you vision gets affected, eye fatigue and computer vision syndromes are not unusual. People doing it do get headaches. So cut off the blue light, using blue light filters. I personally use Gaming glasses. I has severe headache 1 week in a row. Uworld can be blinding and i had blurry visions, so I bought glasses, Gunnar glasses was best deal, high quality, good value for money and light ( mine is 30 grams).
Mr Sattar’s Pathoma, specially the basic first 3 chapters are best pathology resource for USMLE. Simplified and high yeild. It has videos which are more effective than simply reading. Goljan is another resource but it is too detailed and time consuming.
According to a survey done among USMLE preparing students, First Aid, Pathoma, UWORLD, Boards and Beyond videos, topped the list among all. BnB are obviously over shadowing the conventional resources like Kaplan. Kaplan is good but time consuming but remember to do the Kaplan Biochemistry, Dr Turco is god.
Read here Top Resources for USMLE- survery
Still, I recommend you follow same strategy as before. Safe NBME scores for passing are 20-30 points safe margin from 197. Best of luck.
Author: Author prefers to stay anonymous, Medical student.