Advice from 10 Students Who Scored 250+ on USMLE Step 1

It’s officially springtime, and you know what that means – it’s board season (for us Vitamin D deprived second year medical students).

First Aid is our bible. UWorld blocks will (or should) take the place of Fortnite. We’ll watch Sketchy in favor of Netflix. And Dr. Sattar will become our new best friend. (This is hyperbole… you should still make time for leisure).

Anyways, as the famous saying goes: “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. I believe that was from Michael Scott. When formulating a plan of any sort, it is always wise to seek the advice of elders – people who have “been there and done that”. Throughout the past year, I have enjoyed reading posts about peoples’ Step 1 experiences in which they share a comprehensive breakdown of how they achieved a certain score on the UMSLE Step 1 exam. I find these posts extremely insightful, and at times, inspiring. I’m sure many of you feel the same way.

So, I thought it might be a cool idea to “interview” a handful of medical students who have conquered and destroyed Step 1, scoring a 250 or above. How did they do it? What resources did they use? How did they use them? And what advice would these students impart to someone currently preparing for the big test?

(Click here to read my personal Step 1 Experience and how I scored > 250)

One last, but very important, comment before reading: a 250 is an awesome score, yeah. But that does not mean you have to hold yourself to the standard of 250. It is an arbitrary number. Each and every person has different goals. Take pride in your work, do the best you can, and don’t compare yourself to others.

Scroll down below to read the experiences, study strategies, and advice of 10 students who have scored over 250 on the USMLE Step 1 exam. I have received more than 10 submissions, but for the sake of brevity, I will post a Part 2 (and perhaps Part 3) with more submissions in the near future.


Anki: Soze’s Step 1 Master Deck Update 1

In my original post on my Step 1 Anki deck, I claimed that I’d upload a new version of the deck every week or so when I finished a new system. I totally lied because that was over a month ago and this is my first update. I’ve been busy and stuff. My bad.

This updated version of the deck includes cards on the Reproductive and Hematology systems, minus cancer pharmacology. Also importantly – I “cleaned up”, edited and revised many of the cards.

In the original version of the deck, all cards were in one giant deck, which wasn’t stratified by subject. I prefer studying like this (reviewing everything randomly compared to studying system by system), but I understand many others may not. So, I decided I’d begin the laborious process of sorting 2000+ cards into sub-decks by system or subject. Yeah that didn’t happen. BUT, I have begun working on this, and the subjects I’ve recently covered (Heme & Repro) have their own sub-decks.

Link: Soze’s Step 1 Master Deck (Update 1)

Up next will be Musculoskeletal, Neuro, and Dermatology.

For a “guide” to using my deck and my methodology behind my card making (it’s a little different from Bros/Zanki), check out my original post on the deck here.

This stuff gets exhausting, but keep working hard and remember the purpose of all of this. A 4th year friend of mine texted me today saying that he matched into his #1 program, a top tier academic program recognized across the globe. He reached the light at the end of the tunnel and now he’s celebrating with joy and pride. What we’re doing now is preparing us to experience the same euphoria on that day in two years when our fates our decided by a computer algorithm. It’ll all be worth it in the end.

Ok, motivational spiel over. Have a good weekend. Drink green beer. Kiss someone. Do something that makes you happy.

Anki: Soze’s Step 1 Master Deck

It is February of my second year in medical school. Just over four months remain between me and the USMLE Step 1 exam. As such, my Step 1 preparation is well under way. Like many of you, figuring out how and what to study was half the battle. My tentative plan is in place.

To sum it up – I’m using Boards and Beyond as my primary starting resource to build a foundation, before transitioning into my UFAP regimen. And I’m using Anki to solidify and retain the information that Dr. Ryan teaches me. (If you are unfamiliar with Anki, just google it or something. Its great. If you’re unfamiliar with Boards and Beyond, read my review and breakdown here.)

After mentioning this Anki deck in past posts as well as Reddit threads, I’ve received several emails, Twitter DMs, and Reddit messages about sharing the deck. So, due to popular demand, I will share the link to my Step 1 Master Deck in this post for anyone who would like to use it to study.


Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism: The Curse of Fuller Albright


During my fledgling medical career, I’ve come across a variety of diseases and drug names that make no damn sense. Half the battle in learning pharmacology is being able to repeat drug names that sound more like the title of a D-movie playing at 3 a.m. on the sci-fi channel than comprehensible english (Seriously, you try to pronounce Levetiracetam or Eculizumab).

However, no drug or disease or anatomical structure with a ridiculous name has truly bothered me like pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism. When I first laid eyes on this asinine collection of letters on page 331 of my 2017 edition of First Aid, I was immediately taken aback. I read it to myself several times over, trying to see if my mind or eyes were playing tricks on me. To my dismay and disappointment, there truly exists a disease named pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism.


Five Months Out: USMLE Step 1 Study Plan

If you’re reading this post, you’re probably like me – someone who neurotically spends far too much time on the internet trying to figure out the best strategy and plan to achieve a dream score on the USMLE Step 1 exam.

Early in M2, I heavily researched the topic to ensure that I was doing everything possible to set myself up for success on boards. I read countless reviews of study resources and question banks, as well as when to implement them into my board prep. I’ve scoured over dozens of Step 1 success stories from posters on Reddit, Student Doctor Network, and elsewhere on the web, in hopes to replicate their success. As such, I formulated my plan this past fall, and I’ve been doing everything I can to execute the plan to perfection.


Once Again, Someone Great is Gone

You were lying there in the grass under the cold rain on that November night.

It was a chilly Saturday morning after my first night home for Thanksgiving break. I was hungover, surrounded by college friends, slap-happy with the remnants of last night’s buzz. My phone was across the room where it was charging during the night. When I checked it for the first time that morning around noon, I had dozens of missed calls from family and friends. An ominous black cloud that would soon enslave my mind for the forthcoming week. When I finally called back, that cloud turned to rain. With a racing heart and shaking hands, I walked onto the patio away from all the smiling faces. I turned my back to the glass door so that nobody could see me. And I started crying like a baby.


What Has Happened & What Is To Come

Happy new year to all who have found their way to Soze Media.

As you may have noticed, I have been on a temporary hiatus and I have not posted to the site in nearly two months. During the month of November, one of my closest friends passed away in a very heinous and suspicious tragedy. This marked the second death of a friend this fall. I wrote about the first here – When Someone Great is Gone. Losing two friends at such a young age in a short span of time has taken a toll on my psyche. Consequently, I have not had the motivation to write since the second tragedy.

I know that I cannot write anything else (medical school, board studying, random musings, music, or movies) until I write about my friend. Personally, I write for fun, I write to give advice, I write to give my take on music & movies, but writing is also a therapeutic release for me. In times of anguish and despair, writing is my metaphorical way of punching a wall. While many not care about personal tribulations (understandably), I must write about him. And I have. The post has been sitting in my drafts since Thanksgiving break. It has been deleted and re-written no less than five times. I simply want to do justice to the situation and properly honor my departed friend.

However, it is the new year, and it’s time to move on. I will be posting the murky story behind my friends death later tonight or tomorrow.

After that post is behind me, I’ll be back to writing the stuff that you good people actually care about. Here are a few posts to look forward to from Soze Media in the following days/weeks:

  • My personal picks for best movies, albums, and songs of the year
  • My Step 1 study plan (lets hope this pans out)
  • How to Fight the Loneliness – surving medical school when you feel alone

Because I will be taking Step 1 in June, expect many posts on my board-studying odyssey.

Let’s make 2018 a better year than 2017. See you soon.

Are You Smart Enough For Medical School?

“Am I smart enough to be a doctor” and “am I smart enough for medical school” are two questions nearly everyone with aspirations of donning the white coat will ask themselves at some point in their journey.

Growing up, we constantly hear about how smart you have to be to become a doctor. We hear about how hard medical school is. We hear about how much dedication is required to pursuing this career path.

Often, the ones who take the premed route are the high school superstars – they take AP & honors classes, they rock their ACTs and SATs, they’re the valedictorians, and they’re the students who did their homework every night, never received a detention, and have followed a perfect trajectory towards medical school since day one of kindergarten.

If these are the future doctors of the world, does the average student stand a chance?

I am here to tell you, from personal experience, the truth about how intelligent one must be to succeed in medical school and become a physician. If you’re a high schooler debating pursuing premed in college, a current college student on the premed track second-guessing if you have what it takes, or a first year medical student dismayed with your lack of early success – you need to read this post.


Boards & Beyond: A Review of Medical School’s Best Kept Secret

In medical school, half the battle is figuring out how to study. And more specifically, what to study. In the first year, we are constantly trying to figure out how to make sense of all the information thrown at us. We are fed daily doses of lectures and PowerPoints and problem sets and assigned readings. A major skill that all medical students must hone is their ability to differentiate between important and irrelevant – low yield vs high yield. We need to study smarter, not harder.

And in second year, all students are trying to get an edge in studying for boards. You will receive weekly emails with discount codes for various board review resources which always come accompanied by some flawed research that states, “You NEED this product to get into your dream residency, 265 STEP 1 GUARANTEED if you follow our plan for the small price of your monthly rent”.

(See my list of 4 Essential Medical School Study Resources that Every Student Needs for the essentials)

We are overwhelmed with resources, so we need to decide carefully which ones we spend our ever-increasing loan money on. We all love Sketchy, First Aid is obligatory, and Dr. Sattar is a medical school deity, but one overlooked study resource is Boards and Beyond. I’ve sampled Doctors in Training, watched some Kaplan Lectures, and experimented with First Aid Step 1 Express, but none of these sources compare to the quality and price of Boards and Beyond. Yet when I suggest it to classmates, they look at me with confusion because they’ve never heard of it. This needs to change.


The Perfect Medical School

As a premed, medical school was some mythical abyss that one descended into and rose four years later as a doctor. Like in The Dark Knight Rises when Batman goes into that pit, where he must train his mind and body to escape and conquer Bane. But instead of the batsuit and badass fighting skills, we supposedly emerge with expertise in medicine and a long white coat. Idealistically, medical school was a place of enriching  education, state-of-the-art futuristic facilities, where one went and suddenly learned how to become a doctor.

I have friends at eight different medical schools in the United States – some I talk to weekly, others I see once or twice a year. Naturally, we talk about medical school. We rant about our administrations and curriculums. We rave about the things we love about our schools. I don’t hate my school, but it’s far from perfect. There are aspects I love, and others I hate (read more on that here). We have time-wasting mandatory activities, some pretty bad lecturers, and of course, we evaluate, evaluate, evaluate to death.

I have a dream. It goes like this…