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Your 10-Week USMLE Step 1 Study Schedule

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The Ultimate 10-Week USMLE Step 1 Study Schedule

So you’re in med school and 10 weeks away from taking the USMLE Step 1 huh? Don’t panic, you still have some time!

The thing you need now is a realistic study Step 1 study schedule that you can stick to and follow to prepare you for what to expect when test day rolls around. Therefore, our dedicated USMLE tutors have put together the ultimate study calendar that outlines our recommended timeline for most Step 1 students.

Additionally, this timeline is particularly formulated for students who are more than 20 points away from their target score on their initial NBME baseline assessment. So if that’s you, you’ve come to the right place!

So, let’s get right to it.

*Please note that most students have completed 0-2 weeks of dedicated studying prior to beginning this calendar.

Key Notes About This 10-Week USMLE Step 1 Study Schedule

  • This study plan is intended to be intense and calls for roughly 10+ hours (including breaks) of studying every day (with the exception of afternoons off after NBME assessments). The harder you work, the higher your score will be. However, this being said, do what you can. We realize that many students simply don’t have 10+ hours a day for USMLE Step 1 studying. 
  • This timeline focuses on a limited number of high-yield resources: First Aid, UWorld, NBMEs, and Pathoma – We believe that intensive focus on a limited set of resources is key to success. 
  • Flashcards are a MUST– putting in the time to create a personalized study resource is worth the effort in the long run. If there’s something you’re struggling with, add it to the flashcards! Learn how to utilize flashcards for USMLE studies.

Basic Daily Step 1 Study Structure:

  • Day (about 8am to 5pm)
    • Morning: Read First Aid– Read through each section twice during the time allotted for that topic and take notes. DO NOT rush through this. Make sure you really understand everything you are reading.
    • Afternoon: Answer UWorld Questions – UWorld Questions are your #1 resource! Going through 50 questions (1.25 blocks) thoroughly, while making flashcards can easily take 3+ hours, so don’t feel like you’re going “too slow.”
    • Late Afternoon: Review – Reviewing the questions you just completed is essential for committing the topics to memory. Repetition is the only thing that will solidify what you’ve learned and confirm your understanding to ensure your success when test day rolls around. So, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!
  • Evening (about 7pm to 9pm)
    • This schedule requires ~2 hours of study in the evening focused on primarily on review, flashcards, and supplemental learning through USMLE prep platforms like Pathoma/Sketchy Micro.
    • Reviewing flashcards should become your new evening ritual for at least 1 hour per night.
  • Assessments
    • The baseline assessment is less important than in the 6-week USMLE study calendar and meant to simply give you a sense for what the USMLE is like.
    • The 5 subsequent assessments provide critical exposure to a real testing environment and objective data of how you are progressing. This will help your practice time, fatigue, and stress management in preparing for Step 1.
    • If the final assessment is not within 8-10 points of your target score after following this schedule, we typically recommend considering delaying your exam for further review.

Tips from the Best USMLE Tutors:

  • 10+ hours a day of studying is no simple task. In fact, most full time jobs are only 8 hours. That’s why it is very important that in following this step 1 study schedule, you push yourself, but not too hard. Working yourself to exhaustion every day can definitely cause more harm than it does good. Make sure to avoid test day burnout by doing your best to relax and making Step 1 studying as enjoyable as possible. Which leads us to our next point:
  • When you are studying during the day, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, unreasonably stressed out, or exhausted, take a break. Especially in the first week or two while you are adjusting to this schedule, don’t be afraid to close the computer, put down your pencil, and take a walk, play with a pet, or cook some food. We also highly encourage students to make their study space comfortable and pleasant. Buy a desk plant, set up shop in an area full of natural light, and get studying!
  • DON’T STAY AT HOME FOR 10-WEEKS!!! While it is important that you study in a place where you can focus, staying home and studying for 10+ hours a day is not healthy. While it is okay to study from home sometimes, remember the importance of packing up your things and heading on over to the library, a quiet coffee shop, a friend’s house (study buddies can be great!) or even a quiet park.
  • If you find yourself constantly distracted studying alone, give us a call to schedule tutoring sessions or create a study group of individuals that will hold you accountable and keep you on track.
  • Stay relaxed and study, study, study!

We hope you enjoy our 10-week Step 1 study schedule! If you need personalized focused help preparing for USMLE Step 1, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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About the Author

Marcel Brus-Ramer, MD, PhD

Completing his BA in economics at Rutgers University in 2000, Marcel Brus-Ramer went on to complete his Diplome de Recherche at Paris Diderot University in…

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