FREE Pre-dedicated USMLE Step 1 Study Schedule that Helped Me Crush Boards

When I started thinking about studying for Step 1, I knew I wanted to start preparing well before my dedicated period. However, I didn’t know where to start and struggled to find a good pre-dedicated schedule. If that sounds like you, I can help you!

Thankfully, my school pairs 2nd-year medical students up with a 4th year AOA medical student/step 1 mentor to help us create a study schedule. The schedule that I’m sharing is adapted from the advice I got from my mentor. He did really well on Step and matched at UCLA! Hopefully, you’ll find this schedule as helpful as I did!

To give you a reference of my timeline, my test date was April 20th, 2019 and I started my pre-dedicated studying in January, after winter break.

A common question I get asked is, “Should I start studying during winter break?” My answer is it depends! If you’re like me and have your test scheduled in April or later, you have plenty of time and should not start studying during winter break. Relax during your break as it’s the last long, real break before the intense studying for Step 1. However, you should definitely spend some time researching different study schedules, studying techniques, resources, etc. Importantly, the best thing you can do during winter break is to BUILD YOUR SCHEDULE from January to your test day.

My Overall Timeline:

  • January (4 months out)- 2 hours of Boards and Beyond (B&B) every day (start with basic sciences, move on to weakest subjects, then everything else)
  • February- 2 hours of B&B, add 1 hour of Sketchy Micro/Pharm, start Uworld questions
  • March until dedicated- 3 hours of B&B, 40 Uworld questions every day

Resources I used:

Boards and Beyond (B&B)

  • I highly recommend using this resource BEFORE dedicated. It is way too dense to try to cram into 7 weeks of dedicated.
    • Starting in January, I listened to B&B for topics covered during my 1st year of medical school (biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, genetics). As it got closer to dedicated, I started reviewing organ systems, starting with my weakest subjects (i.e. pulmonary, MSK).
    • I took notes of the videos directly into my First Aid (FA) book. I spent about 2 hours a day doing this on top of studying for my classes.
      • Be mindful of the notes you take in FA. You don’t want to dilute the high yield content with lower yield notes.
      • Also, as you can see, I did not spend much time on step studying throughout the year. I focused most of my energy on mastering the material I was learning in class.
    • I also reviewed ethics and biostats. In retrospect, this was a waste of time and I would recommend saving it for dedicated.

Sketchy Micro and Pharm

  • After I got in a good flow with doing a few B&B videos a day, I started watching about 1 hour of Sketchy Micro and Pharm every day. I heavily used this resource from day 1 of 2nd year so I had already watched all the videos before.
    • I highly recommend making a schedule or a checklist to organize how you’ll cover all the videos.


  • In January, I began doing Anki flashcards to memorize all the material I was reviewing.
    • Anki is a free flashcard app you can download on your desktop or pay to have on your mobile device.
    • Reddit has a bunch of free pre-made decks you can download. I recommend the Lightyear to cover the B&B material. Pepper is a good one that covers Sketchy material. I also used the comprehensive Zanki deck. Refer to my other post for how to incorporate Anki into your step studying.


  • I talk more about how to use Uworld in my other post, but just to reiterate, I recommend starting Uworld questions after you’ve covered a specific topic. For example, if you reviewed cardio with B&B, start doing a few cardio Uworld questions.
    • During pre dedicated start off slow. Do 10, move to 20, then when it’s closer to dedicated, try to do 40 every day.
    • Do them non-timed (tutor mode).
    • For your incorrects, I recommend make Anki cards for them.
    • When you first start going through Uworld, it will take a LONG time. Don’t worry about that. Focus on quality > quantity. Think of Uworld as a textbook. Read every word and learn from the wrong as well as the correct answers.
    • Lastly, mark all your incorrect questions and questions you got right but for the wrong reasons (like a random guess). Plan to redo all your marked questions if not all the questions during dedicated.

That’s it! I hope that was helpful! Refer to my other post dedicated studying below!
1. My Dedicated Schedule
2. How to Use NBMEs
3. The Best USMLE Step 1 Resources
4. My Learning Method for Step 1

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions! <3

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle



  1. Sebastián
    12/24/2019 / 1:33 pm

    Did you make any nbme ?

    • Lily Trinh
      12/30/2019 / 4:18 pm

      Hi Sebastian,

      Yes. I took all the available practice NBMEs.

  2. Suganiya
    01/03/2020 / 10:59 pm

    Hi lily. Love your blog posts. And it looks really nice as well!
    Thank you so much for all the information.
    Did you use Physeo for any subjects? What are you views on them?

    • Lily Trinh
      01/07/2020 / 6:57 pm

      Hi Suganiya!

      Thanks for following my blog and for your sweet message!!

      I used Physeo during my first year of medical school to learn physiology and thought it was a really great resource. Since it’s a very comprehensive resource and can take a long time to get through all the videos, I personally wouldn’t use it during the pre-dedicated or dedicated periods. Instead, I used BRS physiology to review the high yield step 1 physiology. I also used AMBOSS or google to look up any specific concepts I missed.

      Hope that help!


  3. Daniela
    01/29/2020 / 1:49 pm

    Hi Lily! I’m a 3rd year IMG about to start studying for Step 1. What order of subjects would you recommend I study if I don’t have a strong foundation, but without distracting myself into non-HY lectures? I took 6 months off to build a stronger foundation for dedicated, and I’m completely lost as to where I should start.

    Sorry for the long question, and thank you so much for all the information!!

    • Lily Trinh
      02/01/2020 / 10:51 am

      Hi Daniela!!

      I would personally start with the ‘basic sciences’ like biochemistry, genetics, microbiology, pharmacology then move on to the organ systems like cardiology, renal, pulmonary, etc. Having a solid foundation of the basic science topics will help you better understand the organ systems. I hope that makes sense. Good luck!!


  4. Elise
    02/25/2021 / 11:58 am

    Hi lily,
    How many anki cards were you doing each day/how much time were you spending on anki during pre-dedicated?
    I am using the pepper deck for sketchy, but am struggling to use the decks for B&B because of how large they are. Any tips?

    • Lily
      02/26/2021 / 8:12 am


      I didn’t keep track of how many cards I did, I just tried to do as many as possible in the allotted time. This worked for me and helped me reduce my anxiety about having to do a certain # of cards each day. I spent on avg 2-3 hours/day pre-dedicated/dedicated doing Anki.

      My tips are dont focus too much on # of cards. Think of quality > quantity. Review cards as you cover a topic – unsuspend Cardio after watching Cardio lecture. During dedicated you should be reviewing all the topics though. Focus on using only a few decks, esp those that are more concise during dedicated- i.e. dont use lightyear/B&B one!

      Good luck!

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