study schedule for step 1

Study Schedule For Step 1 (Actual Examples)

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The USMLE is fast approaching. You need to establish a study schedule for Step 1 the soonest possible time. To survive Step 1, you don’t only study hard, but you also have to study smart. 

You have all the resources and books for Step 1 Boards and Beyond, First Aid, UWorld, and all others that you need to squeeze in every day or every week to reassure yourself that you have studied every essential thing to crack the USMLE. 

In this post, I will give you general information on how to study for Step 1 and an actual study schedule for Step 1 you could follow throughout your USMLE Step 1 review.

How Difficult Is Step 1?

study schedule for Step 1 how difficult is step 1

Source: Unilad

Step 1 is guaranteed to be difficult especially when you lack enough preparation.

The questions are formulated to assess the examinees’ ability to integrate fundamental medical concepts into clinical practice.

Aside from the complex concepts, you will be overwhelmed by the volume of information you need to figure out in just one question alone within a minute.

The coverage of the exam is wide. It already covers all learnings you garnered from the first two years in med school and even recently published journal articles relevant to medicine. 

It will be an 8-hour nerve-cracking day with the ultimate goal to answer almost all questions correctly and arrive at a score of at least 250!

Step 1 is a test of knowledge, mastery of all basic concepts, and your ability to think clearly under time pressure.

Step 1 is challenging in nature. And you would add up the stress if you misspent your preparation time with procrastination and poor studying habits. So you must follow your study schedule for Step 1 strictly and do active studying.

You can also check my article here to learn more about how to study for Step 1 here.

How Will You Do Well On Step 1?

how long should i study for step 1

Since now you know how difficult Step 1 is and you have an idea somehow on what to concentrate on, you could use them as a guide on how to plan out your study schedule for Step 1.

The next question is how can you do well on Step 1? The strategy is to focus on your weak areas and reinforce your knowledge of good ones. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to study:

Create An Overview

Imagine a big picture of all medical concepts. Think of general areas you should work on. Is it Physiology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, etc.? List them down according to your priority.

Write An Outline

Write down specific topics in your chosen areas. List them down chronologically from the first thing you wanted to review until the end.

I suggest that you include even the most basic concepts in that area so you’ll be refreshed and apply them to more advanced topics. An outline will provide structure to your studying.

Organize Each Topic

Deconstruct each topic. This is the time where you dive deeper as you read on every topic to be covered in the USMLE Step 1.

Try To Memorize

Memorization is not the most advisable strategy to learn. But there are several concepts that you just need to memorize. The key to retention is constant repetition.

If you’d like to avoid just memorizing and want to learn for long term retention – then click here to get three awesome tips!

Apply Your Knowledge

As I mentioned earlier, Step 1 is crucial in assessing a student’s ability to apply all medical concepts they learned in clinical practice. Reconstruct all information and associate each topic with each other.

You can try answering sample questions by this time to assess yourself. Try also to set a timer to have feedback on how fast you analyze and answer questions.

FYI: Want to learn more about how to crush Step 1? Check out our free step-by-step masterclass to help you get a 250+ on Step 1!

How Long Should I Study For Step 1?

study schedule for Step 1 how long should i study for step 1

Most students study for 4 to 6 months with an extensive review of Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Behavioral Sciences, and other subjects you tackled for the first 2 years of med school.

This is also the amount of time it takes to comfortably get through the resources including UWORLD.

How Do I Study For Step 1 Before Dedicated?

study schedule for Step 1 how do i study for step 1 before dedicated

Source: Tulane University

Dedicated means your undistracted time committed for Studying Step 1. It is just a short review time of 4 to 8 weeks. Before dedicated, medical students juggle their time studying for USMLE Step 1 and passing their medical school courses.

The main right now at the very least is to first pass all your study resources such as UWorld, First Aid, etc. Given the load of resources you need to read, it’s very important to create a study schedule for Step 1 so you could strategically organize your learning.

Here are some tips on how to study for Step 1 before dedicated:

Finish the UWorld Qbank

UWorld is one of the most recommended study resources for Step 1. Step 1 takers suggest going through it at least twice before taking Step 1. They advise you to complete the first pass before dedicated and do the second pass during dedicated.

Read through First Aid and Pathoma

Aim to read both books at least once before dedicated. Set and adhere to a daily quota of topics the best that you can. As much as possible, never miss a day without studying for a block. If ever, find a day to catch up on all the things you missed.

Organize your studying strategy in such a way you read First Aid/Pathoma concepts in parallel with your current block of lectures in med school. 

Check out the ultimate guide to First Aid here.

Watch Sketchy Medical Videos During Break Times

Maximize your study time by watching high-yield yet simple Sketchy Medical videos online during break times. Consider this as a non-stressful activity in which you could still gain loads of information.

Make Sure To Perform Well In Your Medical School Courses

Medical students tend to spend more time studying for USMLE Step 1 instead of their medical courses. However, never forget that passing your medical courses is just equally important as passing the USMLE. You need to make sure that you pass your pre-clinical years. On days leading to your exam, refocus your studying on coursework.

FYI: Studying for Step 1 with tips like these are awesome, but you also need the right guide to accompany you through the process.

How Do I Prepare For Step 1 In 6 Months?

study schedule for Step 1 how do i prepare for step 1 in 6 months

What if Step 1 is only 6 months away? How should you prepare for it? It may sound crazy, but instead of panic, use the pressure to get motivated. You’ve been studying relentlessly for the past weeks.

The next 6 months will surely be quick and tiring as you will spend more intense review sessions. And so, I have the following tips on how to prepare for Step 1 in 6 months:

Know What You Will Be Facing

Being familiar with the USMLE content and how the questions are designed serves as a guide on how you will study for Step 1.

Get a baseline of what the test aims to assess your current level of knowledge. Answer practice tests and question banks. You’ll get to realize your strengths and weaknesses.

Find A Place Where You Could Be Productive The Most 

Find a place where you could concentrate and study with undivided attention. May it be in your room, a library, or a coffee shop, it should be a designated place exclusive only for studying. Take your phone away so you won’t be tempted to check your social media accounts.

If you want to learn how to become more productive – check out how you can double your productivity in just 2 days here.

Establish A Study Schedule For Step 1 And Stick With It

As much as possible, stay on schedule as best as you can. Balance your time for sleep, rest, study, and exercise.

Learn more about how to get a 250+ on Step 1 in this post!

Exercise Regularly

Studying for Step 1 could be stressful and get you out of shape of staying sedentary all day long. Don’t remove an active physical activity in your routine. Exercise does not just help you stay fit but it could also boost happy hormones that could help you stay positive.

Eat Healthier Foods

Avoid junk foods. Take care of your body by eating nutritious foods that could be beneficial for your brain’s health.

Get Enough Sleep

This may sound crazy especially that med students are like robots who could stay up all night on full-function mode. Sleep is essential for your entire health. Have at least 7-8 hours of sleep each day to fully recover from yesterday’s stress.

Subscribe To My Step 1 Masterclass

If you need more help on how to study for Step 1, you can subscribe to my Masterclass for free and get exclusive tips, strategies, and information on how to crush the USMLE Step 1.

FYI: Studying for Step 1 is all in vain if you don’t have a step-by-step walkthrough to guide you.

Sample Study Schedules For Step 1

sample study schedules for step 1

Here are sample study schedules for Step 1 of exam takers who had 250+ Step 1 scores categorized accordingly:

6-Week Schedule

Week 1

Answer a Diagnostic Test Q&A to assess your level of knowledge and know which areas to focus on. Focus on Physiology, Embryology, and Neurology. Read on FA, BRS Physiology, and High-Yield Neuro.

Week 2

Focus on Physiology and Anatomy. Read on BRS Physiology, and High-Yield Anatomy.

Week 3

Focus on Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Behavioral Science. Read on FA, and High-Yield Behavioral Sciences.

Week 4

Focus on Pathology and Pharmacology. Read on BRS Pathology, First Aid, and High Yield Biostatistics.

Week 5

Answer practice tests and Qbanks.

Week 6

Keep on answering practice tests and Qbanks. Try to go over on topics that you think you’re not fully confident of.

5-Week Schedule


Study for class. No Step 1 resources were used. 


Did Kaplan Qbank and started off on Timed to assess how fast you can analyze. Eventually, switched to organ system-specific Timed Tutor. 


Finished Kaplan right before the dedicated. Started UWorld with 5 weeks to go.

5-Week Schedule

1st to 4 Weeks

Monday to Friday:

  • Morning: FA and Pathoma
  • Afternoon: 3 UWorld blocks in the afternoon

Saturday: Practice test

Sunday: Rest

5th Week

3 practice tests and free 150 questions

4-Week Schedule

Week 1

Monday to Thursday:

  • Read approximately 50 pages of First Aid per day.
  • Supplement your First Aid reading with review books.
  • Do about 50 Q-bank questions per day


  • Do a full-length practice test on UWorld. Do 7 timed 60-minute blocks of 46 questions with 1 hour of break time.


  • Review missed questions from Friday’s practice test.


  • Rest and relax.

Week 2

Monday to Thursday:

  • Read approximately 50 pages of First Aid per day.
  • Supplement your First Aid reading with review books.
  • Do about 50 Q-bank questions/day


  • Do a full-length practice test on UWorld. Do 7 timed 60-minute blocks of 46 questions with 1 hour of break time.


  • Review missed questions from Friday’s practice test.


  • Rest and relax.

Week 3

Monday through Thursday:

  • Read approximately 50+ pages of First Aid/day 
  • Supplement your First Aid reading with review books
  • Do about 50-75 Qbank questions/day


  • Do a full-length practice test on UWorld. Do 7 timed 60-minute blocks of 46 questions with 1 hour of break time.


  • Review missed questions from Friday’s practice test.


  • Rest and relax.

Week 4

Monday through Thursday:

  • If you haven’t already, finish First Aid early in the week.
  • Do about 100+ Q-bank questions/day
  • Study any problem areas using First Aid, review books, or online.


  • Rest and relax.


  • Take the USMLE Step 1 Exam!

2-Week Schedule

Monday to Friday:

  • Morning to Afternoon: DIT 
  • Evening: Qbank

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Catch-up for missed

FYI: Studying with a detailed outline and schedule is great but you also need the right guide to walk you through the process.

Step 1 Study Plan Without Anki

step 1 study plan without anki

No students have exactly the same study plan for Step 1. Some students supplement their main resources with Anki, while some were able to crack Step 1 without using any Anki at all.

There are a ton of pre-made decks for Anki that are specifically designed as study supplements for the USMLE Step 1. One of med students’ favorites is Med School Zanki. 

For those who are not fans of Anki, they focused on their current block and reviewed different organ system questions for the past blocks. Try to write down in a journal the organ systems you need to improve or concentrate more. Continue this until you have covered everything by the start of dedicated.

During dedicated, focus on UWorld and take advantage of all NBME’s available. Constantly check on areas that you need to improve and work on it.

FYI: If you’re enjoying this content and want more Step 1 advice that can take your Step 1 score to another level then click here to join our FREE masterclass!


The key to ace a high Step 1 score is through dedication and hard work. Once you register for Step 1, it is the beginning of a long-enduring journey of constant studying. USMLE Step 1 is hard and you shouldn’t take it for granted.

Given that its coverage is wide, it’s important to read on every possible helpful resource with a strict study schedule for Step 1 that could lead you to your goal.

But as you give all of your time to studying, don’t forget to rest and balance your time for study and play.

Happy studying!

If you have found this post insightful, come and drop by our other blog posts for more awesome content!

Also, remember that rocking your USMLE Step 1 is possible and you can do just that by signing up for FREE Step 1 Masterclass here.


Or maybe you need a bit of help and support to push yourself up the ladder? If so, join Step 1 Academy now.

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