How far in advance do you start getting ready for Step 1 and what is a good score?

MDtoBe777

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Jun 19, 2004
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Hey,

I don't know very much about Step 1, or the USMLE for that matter. How far in advance do you usually start studying for it? Is it better to start a lot earlier, or does it really not end up making a difference? What is a good score for a residency program in California (let's say EM)? Is this a difficult score to earn? Also, what are the factors that residency programs consider in your application?

Thanks for your help.
If there are any helpful links you have, please pass them along.

Good luck on the USMLE!
 

klubguts

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Feb 15, 2005
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Wow, pretty loaded post. Step 1 is the exam you take after second year, and is based on your preclinical courses (biochem, phys, anatomy, etc). I didn't begin studying "for step 1" until the end of my second year (others did differently, just tellin' OP what i did). Crammed like mad (ahh, still thankful for First Aid) for three weeks and took it. If you learn your preclinical material well, it is really largely a review of stuff you have already seen before/knew at one time. Two years ago, the mean score was around 217 w/SD of 17 or something like that. The exam is difficult, but it is not impossible to score 1-2 SDs above the mean. I did not apply to ED residencies or in Cali, so not sure what the locals would consider a good score (check the ED residency board). Besides your USMLE scores, programs also consider your class standing, honors, grade in clerkship of interest, LORs, deans letter, interview, research/publications, etc (in no particular order and very specialty dependent). While it is not the only thing looked at, your step 1 score is important in getting interview opportunities (screening) and in offers an objective comparison of two applicants from different med schools. Hope this helps some...best of luck.