My USMLE Step 1 Dedicated Study Schedule!

After many requests for my study schedule, I’m so happy to be finally sharing this with you guys! (: Before studying for this exam, I had absolutely no idea where to begin. However, I received a ton of great advice from upperclassmen and I’m here to pay it forward! For reference, I generally scored slightly above class average on my school exams and scored between 245-250 on Step 1!

A few quick points! My study schedule is very personalized. After getting advice from classmates who did well on the exam, I created a study plan to fit my learning style. I advise you to do the same! Also, it’s great to have a plan but make sure you’re flexible. Be willing to change your study schedule based on performance feedback from your practice exams. Lastly, be sure to schedule enough days off and/or ‘catch up’ days for when things take longer than expected.

My school gives us 9 weeks between our last 2nd-year exam and the start of 3rd-year rotations to study for this big exam. The general consensus is that 6 weeks is the optimal length of time to study intensely for this exam. Choose the length of your study period based on your comfort level. Personally, I scheduled mine for 7 weeks because I had obligations that took a few days away from studying. I also wanted extra catch up days. This schedule still gave me two weeks of vacation before 3rd-year rotations.

Just like studying for any big exam, you want to start off with content review then work towards doing questions closer to the exam.

For content review, I used Boards and Beyond (B&B), Sketchy Micro/Pharm and Uworld questions. Starting in January (4 months out from my exam), I started reviewing the basic sciences (biochem, basic path, immuno) then move onto the organ systems in order of my weakest to strongest subjects. Side note: I plan to post my pre-dedicated schedule soon so stay tuned!

When I started dedicated, I was finishing up my content review. I advise you to do the same! Most of your dedicated period should consist of reviewing, integrating, and testing what you should already know!

Content review schedule

  • 8am-10am: Anki reviews (~600-700 cards per day)
  • 10am-2pm: Learn new material with B&B
  • 2pm-6pm: Uworld (40 questions x 2)
    • I took small breaks throughout the day.
  • 6pm-8pm: Break (workout + dinner)
  • 8pm-10:30pm: Review sketchy dots and/or listen to pathoma

Once I finished my first pass through all the material, I still had a bunch of Uworld questions left to do. So, my days were mostly made up of Anki and 4 blocks of Uworld. I basically tried to do as many questions as possible.

Keep in mind that when I started Uworld, it took me about 3+ hrs to complete and review 40 questions. As I gained more knowledge and got more efficient, 40 questions took me no longer than 2 hours. After I completed Uworld once, I reseted it and went through all the questions a second time.

After first pass schedule

  • 7:30am-10am: Anki reviews (~800-1000 cards per day)
  • 10am-2pm: Uworld (40 questions x 2)
  • 2pm-6pm: Uworld (40 questions x 2)
    • Again, I took small breaks throughout the day.
  • 6pm-8pm: Break (workout + dinner)
  • 8pm-10:30pm: Review sketchy dots and/or listen to pathoma

At the start of Week 5, based on my practice exams, I noticed I was still missing knowledge-based questions. So, I started listening to pathoma while reviewing FA in the morning then completing Uworld questions in the afternoon.

Overview of the resources I used during dedicated

  • Uworld questions x2
    • Went through 1x beginning of January into Week 2 of dedicated.
    • Reset then went through it again during dedicated.
    • If you’re short on time, I recommend going through Uworld once, then go back through your incorrects.
  • Pathoma videos x2
    • ~1 chapter a day, but the earlier chapters are very long so those may take about 2 days.
  • First Aid x?
    • Throughout 2nd year and some of my dedicated time, I annotated and reviewed FA while I listened to B&B. I also review FA while I listened to pathoma. However, I never truly ‘read’ FA like some people swear by doing.
  • Sketchy Micro/Pharm
    • I went through the summary dots on each image 6-7 times before the test. Since I used this resource throughout MS2 and was pretty familiar with the content, I only watched each video once during my pre-dedicated period. I would recommend reviewing all the summary dots at regular intervals (like the Anki system).
  • Goljan audio
    • Used during car rides, workouts, cooking, chores, showers (lol), etc…
  • Practice Exams
    • Starting week 2, I took an NBME or Uworld exam every week.
    • In total, I completed 5 NBMEs (1 school issued one) and 2 UWSAs.

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Please reach out to me if you have any questions. I’d love to help!
Thanks for reading and good luck!

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1 Comment

  1. vrey
    10/30/2020 / 2:54 am

    Some truly excellent info!

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