A2A.Ideally you should take step 1 before you are done with third year MBBSAnd you should be involved in few research projects ( ask around faculty members in hospital,and you can do some voluntary contribution in your area of interest with one or two faculty members).Go through their publication list.Pteferably choose professors who have published in international journals.Research work on your resume will strengthen your chances of a match of your choice.Also,do externship for at least two -three months or more Before you are done with your internship.Externship gives hand-on experience and alook better on resume than observership (you get only observship after MBBS is over and there is no hands-on experience). Preferably apply with your step 1 score and your resume (showing involvement in some ongoing research) to secure externship in good hospitals.Also,try to choose externship in a specialty that you plan on taking for residency.Else in interview,you will be asked to explain why you took externship in altogether different area,if you didn't want to pursue your residency in same field. Try to work as sincerely as possible in externship,coz you can ask those professors for LORs,which would reflect their impression of you.Also,interact with them as much as possible and offer voluntary unpaid work to help them in their research work.
Lastly,plan step 2 CK either 3–4 months immediately after final Proff (you're fresh with exam preparation and step 2 has syllabus of third and final year MBBS) or during/after internship (depending upon how heavy internship is in your hospital and how much free time you get to study for exams ).
Step 2 CS, ideally after Internship and having done externship in USA,coz it prepares you for interaction with patients.If your internship ends in December.Either plan everything that you are ECFMG certified by August end ,same year and start applying for match in September ( interview typically starts from October end/November beginning).Plan step 3 ,so that you have result by November (it's not essential to have step3 for match,but it's a bonus on your resume if you have passed it before interview)Or,if getting holidays to attend interviews will be problematic in internship ,apply next year in September and go back to USA after finishing internship,to do some research.
You may speak with professors with whom you did externship and offer your voluntary service for their research work.If they liked you during your externship with them,they most likely will oblige.And,not to mention that steps scores matter.But they aren't the only thing that matter.
Babita Kataria, USMLE United States Medical Licensing Examination
Source: Quora Digest