How To Create An Effective USMLE Step 1 Study Schedule - Crush Your Exam! (2023)

Are you prepared to take the USMLE Step 1? It can be an intimidating challenge but can be overcome with suitable preparation and a viable study program. You must create an effective USMLE Step 1 study schedule that works best for you.

In this guide, we’ll teach you how you can effectively create a study plan that would help you successfully pass the hurdles of taking the USMLE Step 1. Are you excited? Let’s get started.

Establish Your Goals

Passing the USMLE exam is not an easy feat. The time of the examination itself is already daunting. How much more is the exam itself?

It does not imply that there is no way, though. You can overcome the challenges and top the exam. What do you need? A suitable study plan.

And how would you do it?

The first thing you should do to create an effective USMLE Step 1 study schedule is to establish your goals.

By first establishing your goals, you will be able to set realistic expectations to ace the USMLE Step 1. Recognizing your aptitudes and inadequacies can help you set achievable objectives for yourself.

Take some time to assess the amount of effort you can devote each day or week towards studying, as well as areas that require further attention. Establish a timeline for completing the material. It will also be beneficial when it comes to staying focused on your goal of passing the exam.

Additionally, try setting daily mini-goals such as reading 10 pages from a textbook every morning before class starts or answering 15 multiple-choice questions after dinner each night. These small accomplishments add up over time, leading toward success on test day.

Setting goals is the foundation for creating an effective USMLE Step 1 study plan. You can construct a successful USMLE Step 1 blueprint by prioritizing your time and taking advantage of the available materials.

Choose Your Study Materials Well

Pick out the assets that are most advantageous for your situation once you’ve set achievable objectives for yourself.

There are many different types of materials available online and in print that can help prepare students for the USMLE Step 1 exam, including:

  • Textbooks
  • Practice questions
  • Flashcards
  • Lectures

Choose resources based on what works best for you. If lecture-style videos help you better understand concepts, use those instead of textbooks.

Additionally, don’t forget to seek additional guidance from mentors or peers who have successfully taken the exam. They may provide helpful tips or advice on how to deal with topics or tricky questions during the test day.

Create a Schedule

Time management is the key to studying for the USMLE Step 1. How to do this? Create a schedule to maximize your efficiency and ensure you cover all the materials.

Most importantly, create a study plan that suits your needs to ensure success.

Create an effective USMLE Step 1 study schedule by breaking down your goals into manageable chunks so that they don’t seem too overwhelming all at once. Divide the four chapters into smaller sections, such as one per week, to make them seem more achievable.

Prioritize Your Time Wisely

When creating a study plan, consider how much time each task requires and prioritize accordingly.

For example, if there’s a topic or concept that takes longer to understand than others, dedicate more time to mastering it rather than spending equal amounts of time on every subject.

Allot extra time for practice questions and tests. It will help gauge your progress throughout your studies.

Make Time for Breaks and Self-Care

It can be tempting to cram in much information as possible in one setting. However, this can lead to burnout quickly, so it’s important not to overwork yourself.

Take regular breaks throughout the day. Take at least five minutes. In this way, you don’t get overwhelmed by all the material at once. During these breaks, do something unrelated, such as going outside or doing light exercise. By doing so, you give your brain a break from studying while still keeping up with physical activity.

Utilize Technology To Stay On Track

Utilizing technology such as scheduling apps or calendar reminders can help you track what needs to be done daily. These tools help you save time and energy without writing everything on paper manually.

Apps like My Study Life also provide features such as color-coding tasks according to their importance level. It will make it easier to spot all the tasks on your list and help you stay organized during crunch times.

Compare USMLE Step 1 Qbanks

Utilize Effective Study Strategies

Understanding the material and utilizing active recall techniques are keys when it comes to creating an effective USMLE Step 1 study schedule.

Developing a comprehensive understanding of the material is essential for success on the exam.

To do this:

Read through all relevant course materials thoroughly and use diagrams or charts to visualize concepts better.

You can also practice active recall techniques to commit information to memory, like using flashcards or writing summaries of what you have learned.

Incorporating mnemonics can also be helpful when studying for USMLE Step 1. Mnemonics are tools that help us remember complex pieces of information by associating them with something more memorable, like a phrase or acronym.

For example, “Every Good Boy Does Fine” is often used as a mnemonic device to remember musical notes in order: EGBDF (from the lowest line or space on the staff).

Visualization techniques can also be beneficial when preparing for USMLE Step 1. Try picturing how different systems interact together in your mind’s eye as you review topics like anatomy and physiology.

You can ensure a better performance on the USMLE Step 1 by utilizing effective study strategies. You can also ask any top USMLE tutors for assistance in developing effective strategies to ace the exam.

Take Practice Tests Regularly

Taking practice tests regularly is an essential part of creating an effective USMLE Step 1 study schedule. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the test format and content so that you know what to expect on exam day.

Identifying your strengths and weaknesses on a practice test will help you determine which topics need more attention during preparation.

After completing the practice test, analyze the results thoroughly. Pay special attention to any questions that were missed or answered incorrectly, and make sure to review those topics in greater detail before taking the actual exam.

It’s also beneficial to take multiple practice tests throughout your study period, as this will help you to be accustomed to how long it takes you to complete certain sections of the exam and how best to manage your time when answering questions.

Additionally, taking additional practice tests gives you valuable insight into which areas require further review before sitting for the real thing.

When studying for USMLE Step 1, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the material covered on the exam, but don’t forget why you are doing this—because knowledge is power.

Most importantly, make sure to choose the right USMLE Step 1 prep course that best fits your learning style and background.


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Stay Motivated and Positive

Creating an effective USMLE Step 1 study schedule is no easy feat. Staying focused and motivated throughout the study process is essential for achieving your USMLE Step 1 goals.

Celebrating small victories along the way can help keep you motivated during the long journey ahead. Take time to appreciate what you have accomplished so far. It can give you the boost you need to continue striving for success. Even if it’s just one chapter or mastering a difficult concept.

Find support from friends, family, or peers. They can be incredibly helpful in keeping you motivated throughout your study process. Their presence can have a tremendous impact on helping you maintain an upbeat attitude and conquer any impediments that may come up during your studies.

Rewarding yourself after reaching certain milestones is another great way to stay motivated while studying for your USMLE Step 1 exam.

Treat yourself to a dinner out with friends or simply take time off from studying after a tough section. It will give you something to look forward to, as well as, much-needed rest before jumping back into more studying.


The step to creating a study plan that would help you eventually pass the USMLE Step 1 is by creating a realistic schedule for reviewing and studying. You have to prioritize your time so that you can allot sufficient time to it.

What’s more, if you try to cram all your sessions along, cramming will likely end up hurting you in different ways. Not only will it make it harder to learn and remember the basics, but you may also be done with your study plan before even your test date.

Do yourself a favor and create an effective USMLE Step 1 study schedule!


How Do I Make A Dedicated Step 1 Study Schedule?

Start by defining what you can achieve in a given period. Then structure it into achievable pieces and take stock of your advancement regularly. Devise a timeline that slices these objectives into more compact tasks that can be accomplished in reasonable subtasks over weeks or months. Finally, build in regular review periods to stay on track with your progress and make any necessary adjustments.

How Many Hours in a Day Should I Study To Prepare For USMLE Step 1

It is difficult to definitively answer how many hours a day one should study for USMLE Step 1. Each person’s study approach varies depending on individual abilities, deficiencies, and inclinations. It is recommended that individuals aiming for higher scores spend at least 6–8 hours per day in dedicated study time.

How Do I Make An Effective Study Schedule

Creating an effective study schedule requires planning and discipline. Figure out the time you can give to studying each day or week, then break it down into reasonable amounts for every subject. Set realistic goals and objectives for yourself, making sure they are achievable within the allotted timeframe.

How Many Hours A Week Should I Study For Step 1

It is difficult to give a definitive answer on how many hours a week you should study for USMLE Step 1. It depends on the individual’s learning style, existing knowledge base, and goals. Generally, individuals should allocate roughly 10-12 hours a week to their Step 1 studies to reach an average score or better.

Which Month Is Ideal For Taking USMLE Step 1

Although the majority of students take Step 1 of the Boards after their second year, you might want to hold off until you are quite certain you will pass. Ideally, you should take the test by April.


How do I make a dedicated Step 1 study schedule? ›

Schedule (7 days a week)
  1. 7:30 am to 8: 30 am: Wake up, breakfast, coffee, head to library.
  2. 8:30 am to 10:30 am: Anki reviews (Anking Step 1 Deck) ...
  3. 10:30 am to 2:30 pm: Content review (more below) + short lunch break. ...
  4. 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm: Finish Anki reviews and finish First Aid review.
Oct 16, 2020

How many hours a day should I study for Step 1? ›

On average, USMLE Step 1 study schedule consists of at least 500-600 hours of study, which works out to 10 hours daily over 6-8 weeks. Individual students may need more, or less.

Is 4 weeks enough to study for Step 1? ›

With a 4-week USMLE Step 1 study schedule, you will have enough time to complete a substantial study block, but as the saying goes, preparation is 90% of the outcome. Here's how you can develop a 4-week Step 1 schedule to ace your exam.

Can you pass Step 1 with just UWorld? ›

Yes, it's generally recommended for users to complete two full passes of the UWorld Step 1 QBank. However, UWorld also offers a 30-day subscription if you have discovered this service with your exam in 30 days or less. Utilizing any form of UWorld can be beneficial to your overall Step 1 score.

Is 7 weeks enough to study for step 1? ›

This exam is just a hurdle to overcome. Dedicated recommended study length: 6-8 weeks: With over 3500Qs you need seven weeks with at least 80 questions per day for one single pass of UWorld. I recommend trying to do a few more per day so you can get through your incorrect questions a second time.

How do you make a realistic study schedule? ›


How long DO most people study for Step 1? ›

Studying for step 1 can a three-to-four months or four-to-six weeks. How rigorous your study plan is will determine how much time you spend preparing for the USMLE overall. Although, even with a rigorous study plan, you'll want to take breaks and quiz yourself on materials throughout.

Is 60% enough to pass Step 1? ›

The percentages of correctly answered items required to pass varies by Step and from form to form within each Step. However, examinees typically must answer approximately 60 percent of items correctly to achieve a passing score.

Is 3 weeks enough to study for Step 1? ›

Students should still plan to block out at least four weeks of dedicated full-time studying for Step 1 to ensure that they are able to pass on their very first attempt.

What month do most students take Step 1? ›

Most students take Step 1 in the spring at the end of their second year, which concludes their preclinical studies. In the fall and winter of your second year, you'll hermit up and spend more time studying and less time socializing.

Is Step 1 the hardest exam ever? ›

Traditionally, Step 1 has been thought of as both the most difficult and most important USMLE Step exam. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, this exam is the first in the series, and students taking it will have had less experience with the types of questions that the USMLE asks.

What is the best order to study Step 1? ›

How To Study For Step 1 [Study Like A Top Med Student]
  1. Tip #1: Focus on Questions Over Reading.
  2. Tip #2: Use Reverse Learning.
  3. Tip #3: Do Micro and Pharm Every Day.
  4. Tip #4: Be Ready For The Hills and Valleys.
  5. Tip #5: Be Okay To Veer From Your Schedule.
  6. Tip #6: Have A Cut Off Time.
  7. Tip #7: The Personal Tier System.

Is 60% on UWorld bad? ›

58-60% is OK, a good sign is being consistently above the average scores. The Uworld package I bought came with 2 assessment exams.

What percentage is passing in UWorld? ›

Not to worry! Our research shows that learners with an average QBank score of 56% pass the NCLEX at a 92% rate.

Is Step 1 like NBME or UWorld? ›

The USMLE Step 1 exam tends to resemble NBME style questions more closely, but in my experience the UWSAs often better predict final exam scores than the NBMEs for many students. Recommendation: start with NBMEs and save the two UWSA for the final few weeks of studying.

Is Pathoma and Sketchy enough for Step 1? ›

In summary, Pathoma is a great tool for augmenting your USMLE Step 1 studying, but cannot, and should not, be used in isolation. Consider taking notes from Pathoma directly into your First Aid textbook to consolidate your reference guide.

How many questions a day should I do on UWorld? ›

If you're making/doing excellent Anki cards, you might top out at doing 80-120 questions/day. However, while you will find people who (productively) do more than 120 UWorld questions in a day, they are often not doing Anki.

Can I finish Step 1 in 3 months? ›

Traditionally, students spend roughly three months studying in a dedicated fashion for Step 1. However, life and circumstances don't always give you the luxury of a dedicated 3-month period to study for the USMLE® Step 1 exam. Some medical schools might only allow for a single month of dedicated study time.

What's the best study method? ›

Shorter, intensive study times are more effective than drawn out studying. In fact, one of the most impactful study strategies is distributing studying over multiple sessions (Newport, 2007). Intensive study sessions can last 30 or 45-minute sessions and include active studying strategies.

How long should study breaks be? ›

Research shows that taking purposeful breaks (anywhere from 5–60 minutes) from studying to refresh your brain and body increases your energy, productivity, and ability to focus. Keep in mind: social media doesn't work well as a “purposeful break” (see the research).

What percentage of students fail Step 1? ›

Residency program directors fear that this will only make Step 2 scores more important, along with emphasizing medical school prestige. And medical students will still need to pass Step 1—something 10% of test-takers failed to do in 2020.

How many people fail Step 1 year? ›

How Many People Fail Step 1 Every Year?
Step 1 Passing Rates20172019
IMG Fails*4,6453,534
Total Step 1 Exams42,42043,048
Overall Step 1 Pass Rate86%89%
Total Step 1 Fails6,1194,614
11 more rows

How common is it to fail Step 1? ›

Here is how many people fail Step 1 every year. The passing rate of people who are re-taking Step 1 is lower. However, despite that, the majority of people who take Step 1 again will pass. For example, in 2020, of the 1985 re-takes of Step 1, 55% passed.

How can I improve my Step 1 score in 2 weeks? ›

Improve Your USMLE Step 1 Performance in 2 Weeks
  1. Plan. It is crucial to simulate the testing environment as closely as possible in these last two weeks. ...
  2. Prioritize. We've all heard it: Work smarter, not harder. ...
  3. Test yourself. ...
  4. Review. ...
  5. Take Care of Yourself. ...
  6. Relax. ...
  7. Believe in yourself!

What is an impressive Step 1 score? ›

Prior to starting your dedicated study time, make sure to do some research and figure out if your goal range matches the expectations of your chosen specialty. Generally speaking, however, a USMLE® Step 1 score between 230 and 245 is considered a good and a score between 245 and 255 is considered very good.

What is a 196 on Step 1? ›

On the three-digit score scale, the passing standard is 196. Future reviews of the Step 1 passing standard will not be reported in terms of a three-digit score.

How many questions can you miss on Step 1? ›

Remember, there are 200 scored items on Step 1. But you have to answer 60% of them correctly to pass. That's 120/200. That leaves only 80 questions left to assign scores across the rest of the passing range.

How predictive is UWorld Self Assessment Step 1? ›

Of the UWorld self assessments, #1 overestimates your score by about 10 points and may give a false sense of security to students. #2 is generally a good predictor of actual score performance.

What is a good score on the free 120 Step 1? ›

The total number of items in the Step 1 examination is 280, and you will need to answer at least 60% correctly to pass the test.

What year of med school is the hardest? ›

Year one is the hardest year of medical school.

Many students will likely disagree, but the first year is widely recognized as being the most difficult. The majority of the first year of medical school is spent in classrooms and labs and requires an enormous amount of memorization.

How far in advance should I schedule Step 1? ›

Eligibility and Scheduling

Once you start down the path of preparing for Step 1, register for it at least six months in advance of your test date. This is because the test dates at the Prometric test centers open up six months in advance.

What is the bare minimum score to pass Step 1? ›

The current minimum passing score for Step 1 is 194. However, the USMLE is currently working to change Step 1 scoring to a pass/fail system. You will receive notice of whether you passed or failed the exam.

What is world's toughest exam? ›

Top 10 Toughest Exams in World To Crack in 2023
  • UPSC. ...
  • Mensa. ...
  • GRE (Graduate Record Examination) ...
  • CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) ...
  • CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert) ...
  • GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering, India) ...
  • All Souls Prize Fellowship Exam. ...
  • Exam for the Master Sommelier Diploma.

What is the most difficult medical exam in the world? ›

USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) is said to be a very tough test. No wonder it is considered one of the top 20 toughest exams in world. This one among the top 20 toughest exams in world is sponsored by National Board of Medical Examiners and Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB).

What is the toughest medical exam in the world? ›

USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination)

Collectively sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Board (FSMB) and National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), this is one of those medical entrance exams which are considered amongst the toughest exams in the world.

How many weeks DO people study for Step 1? ›

After preclinical years, students take an average of 6-8 weeks of “dedicated” study time to prepare for Step 1. The amount of time you need will depend on your own weak points and your foundation of knowledge.

Is Step 1 more difficult than MCAT? ›

However, step 1 is more difficult in the toll it takes on you mentally and physically. You spend a ton of time studying and have essentially one shot to pass the exam and get the absolute best score you can get. You can't retake it if you don't like your score (unlike the MCAT) and failing is significant.

What should I DO the day before Step 1? ›

So, it's the day before you take USMLE Step 1…
  • Practice Your Step 1 Wake-Up Routine. ...
  • Figure Out Your Route to Your USMLE Step 1 Testing Center. ...
  • Exercise Anxiety Away. ...
  • Don't Forget to Eat! ...
  • Complete a Gentle Review of USMLE Step 1 Material. ...
  • Go to Bed Early.

Is 50% good on Uworld? ›

If you are getting above 50% on Uworld you will be fine, just keep reading rationales because that is the most important part.

What is a 48% on Uworld? ›

The 48th is the cumulation of the scores for all the students who are using Uworld as their study material.

Is 40% on Uworld bad? ›

Scores of 32/40 or 80% on your first attempt at random blocks of UWorld is very strong performance. This would roughly correspond to Step 1 scores of 255+, assuming you sustain these scores through the entire question bank.

Is a 56 on UWorld good? ›

Learners with an average QBank score of 56% pass the NCLEX at a 92% rate. While your average UWorld QBank score gives you important information, studying each question's explanation is the most valuable way to spend your time.

What score on UWorld is passing Step 1? ›

The current USMLE minimum passing score for Step 1 is 194.

Is Kaplan or UWorld better? ›

Quality of Practice Materials

And in our opinion, Kaplan provides more realistic practice material than UWorld. It's a close call, and we generally like the problems both companies offer, but Kaplan's are just a better fit for the real thing.

Is Step 1 as tricky as UWorld? ›

The frequently updated content ensures you learn and master the most relevant material that helps confront your individual USMLE Step 1 strengths and weaknesses. UWorld may be harder than Step 1, with some questions above the actual test's difficulty level.

Can you pass Step 1 with UWorld only? ›

Students have been known to score 270+ on USMLE Step 1 just by using UWorld and First Aid. There are also students, however, who have gone through the question bank 3 or more times, and can't seem to get a passing score on the exam. This underscores the fact that UWorld is effective only if used properly.

Which NBME form is most predictive for Step 1? ›

Currently, the available NBME CBSSA forms are Form 18, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 and are considered the best and most accurate way to assess one's predicted performance on the USMLE Step 1. However, as of March 24th*, 2021, the NBME will be retiring all of the old CBSSA NBME forms and replacing them with 6 new NBME forms.

How much dedicated study time for step 1? ›

After preclinical years, students take an average of 6-8 weeks of “dedicated” study time to prepare for Step 1. The amount of time you need will depend on your own weak points and your foundation of knowledge.

How many hours is dedicated step 1? ›

The USMLE Step 1 consists of 7 blocks, each lasting 60 minutes and consisting of up to 40 questions each. This 8-hour marathon is high stakes, but fear not. With the right plan and approach, you will be prepared to crush it.

How do you structure step 1 study? ›

How To Study For Step 1
  1. Tip #1: Focus on Questions Over Reading.
  2. Tip #2: Use Reverse Learning.
  3. Tip #3: Do Micro and Pharm Every Day.
  4. Tip #4: Be Ready For The Hills and Valleys.
  5. Tip #5: Be Okay To Veer From Your Schedule.
  6. Tip #6: Have A Cut Off Time.
  7. Tip #7: The Personal Tier System.

Is 3 months enough to study for Step 1? ›

Traditionally, students spend roughly three months studying in a dedicated fashion for Step 1.

How many questions should I do a day for Step 1? ›

Group 1: Try to do at least two blocks of 40 questions. I would recommend a maximum of three blocks a day if you plan to review all the information that day. The blocks will take about three hours each to answers the questions and review the material.

How many questions a day for Step 1? ›

Step 1 is a one-day exam. It is divided into seven 60-minute blocks and taken in one 8-hour testing session. Each block will usually not exceed 40 questions, and the entire exam will not exceed 280 questions.

Is Step 1 one of the hardest exams? ›

Traditionally, Step 1 has been thought of as both the most difficult and most important USMLE Step exam. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, this exam is the first in the series, and students taking it will have had less experience with the types of questions that the USMLE asks.

How to use UWorld to study for Step 1? ›

General Tips For Your UWORLD Step 1 Study Schedule:
  1. Follow what works for you. ...
  2. Aside from UWorld, supplement it with other high-yield resources such as First Aid, Pathoma, NBME, etc.
  3. Don't be too hard on yourself. ...
  4. Take breaks when you find yourself overwhelmed especially in the first two weeks while adjusting.

Is there an app that makes a study schedule for you? ›

The myHomework Student Planner app is a simple way to keep track of your learning progress. To begin, add your class schedule and any upcoming assignments. MyHomework Student Planner will then build a color-coded curriculum as well as a calendar to help you arrange your forthcoming courses, lessons, and tests.

What website can I use to make a study schedule? ›

DesignCap makes it easy to create a weekly or monthly study schedule online. It is a free online study schedule maker designed for beginners as well as professionals. It integrates all the tools you may need to make a custom study schedule.


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