Nicknamed ‘the beast’ on many online forums (after the ferocious effort needed to prepare for this test), USMLE Step 1 is generally regarded as the most important and most challenging of the 3 USMLE exams. Aside from ultimately deciding if you should be allowed to proceed in your medical studies and anticipated career, success on Step 1 is known to be one of the primary factors in residency interview selection and residency matching.
What content does USMLE Step 1 cover?
USMLE Step 1 tests student knowledge in the areas of Blood & Lymphoreticular/Immune Systems, Behavioral Health & Nervous Systems/Special Senses, Musculoskeletal, Skin & Subcutaneous Tissue, Cardiovascular System, Respiratory & Renal/Urinary Systems, Gastrointestinal System, Reproductive & Endocrine Systems, Multisystem Processes & Disorders, Biostatistics & Epidemiology/Population Health, Social Sciences: Communication Skills/Ethics. Questions for each system cover topics in pathology, physiology, pharmacology, biochemistry & nutrition, microbiology & immunology, gross anatomy & embryology, histology & cell biology, behavioral sciences, and genetics.
How is USMLE Step 1 scored?
USMLE Step 1 is scored on a scale of 120 to 300 with the national average score for first time test takers who passed being 230±19 (as of 2018). The lowest passing score for USMLE Step 1 is 194 (as of January 2020) and a strong Step 1 score is considered >245. An excellent Step 1 score is >260. Students who pass USMLE Step 1 are not allowed to retake the exam. For most students, this means you only get one shot to do the absolute best you can.
How is USMLE Step 1 administered?
USMLE Step 1 is a one-day exam administered over an 8-hour testing session. There are seven 60-minute blocks of 40 questions each.
Receiving 1-on-1 help from an expert is always helpful. However, for some students, getting personalized help studying for USMLE Step 1 is necessary in order to achieve their goals. We strongly encourage students who fit into one or more of the following categories to contact us and speak with our learning advisor to determine if tutoring is your best option for success.
At Risk Students
- If you have weak MCAT scores (below 509 or below 30 with the old scale), you are at risk for weak USMLE Step 1 scores. MCAT scores have the strongest independent correlation of any factor to USMLE scores. Some of this weakness is likely intrinsic, however more commonly than not, difficulty on the MCAT is due to poor habits which can be corrected with the help of a Step 1 tutor.
- If you historically have high test anxiety and/or are a poor standardized test taker, a couple tutoring sessions focused on strategy and wellness can be very beneficial to your success. In addition, if you feel overwhelmed by all the available resources for USMLE prep, a couple sessions with a tutor can walk you through effective use of Anki, Zanki, UWorld, TrueLearn, First Aid, Pathoma, Osmosis, Amboss, Lecturio, and everything else under the Step 1 sun.
- If you are more than 20 points away from passing USMLE Step 1 (as determined by your NBME practice exam scores) and have 8 or fewer weeks left to study, contact us immediately. By the 8 week mark, students should be at or above passing when entering into their dedicated Step 1 study period. A 20 point gap is difficult to bridge without focused help on weak areas.
- If you struggle to stick to a schedule and/or independent study plan, you should consider a USMLE tutor. It is quite normal to fall behind a little bit on a study plan. However, being unable to follow through on at least 70% of the intended amount of work for a particular day is problematic. This failure either indicates poor planning (i.e. too much to do), poor focus (i.e. difficulty with maintaining attention), poor study habits, or a combination of these– all of which, a Step 1 tutor can help with.
- If you have previously failed USMLE Step 1 a tutor can work with you to come up with an action plan for passing and achieving a good score. We strongly urge you to contact us if you previously failed and are still more than 10 points from passing Step 1 with 8 or fewer weeks left before your next attempt
International Medical Students
- If you went to medical school outside of the United States, even as a US citizen at an American accredited medical school, a tutor can help you make sure you have all the information and skills you need to be successful on Step 1. Unfortunately, 2018 official data from the USMLE website reports that first time examinees from non-US/Canadian medical schools have only an 80% Step 1 pass rate (in comparison to 96% from US medical schools).
Despite the lower pass rate, achieving a high Step 1 score is considered to be more important for non-US medical students, as competitive residencies tend to favor US medical students based on data from the NRMP Matching tool.
A strong Step 1 score is particularly important for foreign or Caribbean medical school students, and medical students attending newer schools (less than 25 years in existence).
In addition, enjoy our Unused Hour Guarantee! All unused 1-on-1 tutoring hours are fully refundable.
USMLE Step 1 Resources
5 Most Productive Study Tips for USMLE Step 1Read More
How to Score 260 on USMLE Step 1Read More
UWorld vs. TrueLearnRead More
How to Study for USMLE Step 1 During MS2Read More
Studying for USMLE Step 1 During MS1Read More
Failing USMLE Step 1: What to DoRead More
Your 10 Week USMLE Step 1 Study ScheduleRead More
How to Score Above 270 on USMLE Step 1Read More