3-Month Study Plan for the USMLE Step 1

If you have about 3 months to study for USMLE® Step 1, how should you use your time?

First of all, do not study more than 8-10 hours/day, including question practice. Also, try to take one day off per week so you can recharge. Eat well, exercise and get proper rest for increased stamina and confidence.

Expert Test Tip

Manuel Castro, Professor of Medicine

“If you don’t know the topic of the question guess the same answer always. The probability of you getting several C’s right is higher than if you randomly guess each time. Be true to yourself know when you don’t know something don’t waste your time with it. No one knows everything.”

You will need to assess your current performance level so you can decide what resources will be best. A Diagnostic Exam is an excellent assessment tool to discover your strengths and weaknesses. Then you can create a schedule for each phase of your preparation. This will minimize stress and allow you to make passes through materials to ensure you understand and can apply the knowledge learned. Using a calendar, adjust the days to invest in strengthening your weaker subjects, by ‘borrowing’ time from stronger subjects. Doing this will improve your overall exam performance.

Building a strong foundation of basic science knowledge is important, so use resources that will integrate your medical school studies most efficiently. For example, Kaplan’s QBank Integrated Plan course effectively does this, and includes Qbank. Illustrations and animations help you visualize and dynamic lecturers take you through complete organ-system coverage.

Definitely try a simulated exam or two. These will mimic the experience you are likely to have on Exam Day and help build stamina. Going into the exam familiar with the format will increase your confidence further, allowing you to focus more clearly. Do not take a simulated exam less than 2 weeks from test day as an average performance could be unsettling. Let’s look at an outline of a 3-month schedule.

3 Month Schedule

3-month Accelerated Plan, using Kaplan’s Integrated Plan:

CURRICULUM PREPARATION: 10 weeks to go 1 review session per week.

15 Qbank questions per day.

CHECK UP: 6 weeks to go NBME self-assessment exam and/or Kaplan simulated exam.
FINAL MONTH: 1-4 weeks to go 1 review session per day.

2 blocks of Qbank questions per day.

After 3 weeks, repeat topics in which you are weak.

FINAL DAY:Relax!! Let your brain rest.