Getting a good result in any examination is the only distinctive feature between a good and a poor student. But first, how do you get a better result? When many students are asked this question the response they usually give is studying hard for long hours. One thing they always forget is that it is not just the number of hours that you spend studying that will determine your result but the quality of your study time.

So, if you are planning to take USMLE and are curious on how to do good on your exams then we recommend creating a study schedule for your exam. This will help you succeed. Additionally, it will help you maintain focus and track your performance.

Now the real question is, how do you create the best study schedule for passing USMLE exams like a breeze? Let’s find out here.

Here at Editing @ International Dentist Central, we have helped prospective candidates who are trying to get a better understanding the USMLE examination through our blog articles and we’d like to help you too in creating the perfect study schedule for the said exam through this article:

This article will cover the following areas:

  • Basics about the USMLE exam.
  • Importance of Study Schedule for the USMLE exam.
  • How to create USMLE Study Schedule
  • USMLE Study Schedule Template


The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a medical licensure examination in the US. This examination is sponsored by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). USMLE is divided into three parts, that is, Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3.

USMLE Step 1 is related to the basic knowledge of your medical science, Step 2 is related to your clinical knowledge and clinical skills while Step 3 is the final examination and puts more emphasis on how you can manage a patient and ambulatory setting unsupervised.

The USMLE examination is a must for both US medical graduates and international medical graduates who wish to be practice medicine in the American soil.

The cost and time frame is as follows;

Step 1 $630 Eligibility periods will run for 3 months starting from November 1, 2018 – January 31, 2019 and ending October 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019
Step 2CK $630 Eligibility periods will run for 3 months starting from November 1, 2018 – January 31, 2019 and ending October 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019
Step 1 and


$70 Extension for Eligibility Period (requests received starting January 1, 2019)
Step 2 CS $1,290 For completed applications received starting January 1, 2019.
Step 3 $850 The target date for reporting scores for examinees testing in January and February 2019 is Wednesday, March 27, 2019.

viewing USMLE study schedule

USMLE Study Schedule

A USMLE study Schedule is an organized plan that that clearly outlines study times and learning goals for your USMLE examination. Creating a study schedule is one of the fundamental pillars towards passing your USMLE examinations. Furthermore, a study schedule will help you become more organized and focused on your studies.

Why Create a USMLE Study Plan

A study plan is an important tool that will help you study for your USMLE exams in an organized way. One of the important benefits of a USMLE study schedule is to keep you out of study paralysis. With a study schedule, you will always know what you need to tackle each day. All you need to do is maintain a high level of self-discipline and strive to handle every task at its scheduled time. Here are important factors that you need to consider before you start creating your study schedule for any USMLE examinations.

  1. Pick a Test Date

It may be difficult to schedule 5-6 months out and select a date for your examination. But, is not impossible. Be courageous and confident enough and choose a date as there is no day that is better than any other.

  1. Select the Resources

Once you have picked a date, go over the available resources and decide the resources which you will use to study for your exams. It is important to note that what works for a particular person may not work for you.  For instance, First Aid may be considered by some people as the best series of books to use, while in others USMLEHelp Books and Crush the Boards, are the way to go.

Take your time and do a thorough research on what is best for you and stick with a maximum of 2 books. A review book that was used during your classes will be the best to use since you are familiar with it.

  1. Use Practice Tests to your Advantage

Note down the number of practice tests you plan to take. Consider choosing 3 or more current exams as they are accurate predictor of what to expect in your examination. There are several sources of good practice tests, such as USMLEWorld. In your study plan, include practice tests as your last task every day. Strive to do many back-to-back hourly blocks near your test-date. This will help you get ready for your exams.

How to Create USMLE Study Schedule

You can use Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and put individual post-it notes on a calendar or any other format of your choice.

1. Establish the Number of Days before your Exam.

You want an adequate time of quality study to just reach your saturation point without giving up. A minimum of 4 weeks of potential study is recommended but you can as well do as far as 6 weeks if your school allows. Determine the number of days you will have to read and number the rows in your spreadsheet properly.

2. Strike out Special Days

Totally block off one day before your examination. This is the day that you only need to go over a few areas that you didn’t clearly understand and/or UWORLD explanations. Strive to complete all UWORLD practice tests and other resources before this day. This is day is basically meant for leisure. You are free to zone out or go outside.

It is normal to get burn-out after a prolonged quality study. It is important to block off a few days before your exams. These days are meant to improve your mental health. If by any chance you fail to use the off days, then you will have adequate time to catch up time.

3. Set Aside Specific Days for Practice

preparing to schedule usmleIt is good to schedule light practice test at the end of your study every day. However, if you decide to tackle 3 practice tests before your exam, it is advisable to take the first practice test after week one of your study, the second test should be done after the fourth week and final test a few days to your exam. Nothing should be done on these days! Only do the tests and correct all the wrong responses. The type of practice test you take does not matter but consider taking current exams as they are accurate predictor of what to expect in your examination.

4. Make a Decision on How Long You Plan to Read each Day

No one knows you better than yourself. You know how many hours you can read each day without getting fatigued. Scheduling 8+ hours each day generally work for most people. When preparing for USMLE exams or any other important exams, it is reasonable to read from 6am to 6pm and do light review or practice tests for 1 hour before you go to bed.

One mistake that you should avoid is overscheduling yourself. I can assure you that you will fall behind if you commit yourself to more work than what you can handle. Again, plan to study for 6-8 hours a day. Break up your study time into two 3-4-hour blocks. This way, you will go through all the material for that day and if you finish them early and still feel energized, then that is awesome! You can continue studying.

Spare one day every week for light task, that is, two UWORLD blocks with review. This should be meant for catch up just in case you fall behind in that week. You can as well do any errands that you feel need to be done.

5. Create a List of Preference of your Study Resources.

This is probably the most difficult part as it is hard to figure out what to exactly do each day. Here are some secrets on how to divide your study resources.

  • Figure out the resources that you feel are the most useful to you.
  • Split up your best resources based on priority.
  • Allocate time for each resource on an equitable scale, that is, more time for the most demanding resources and few hours for less demanding resources.

The fundamental thing in this step is to avoiding overscheduling yourself. Strive to assign yourself content that you can cover completely each day, even if it means having extra hours left each day.

6. Make your USMLE Study Plan Look Appealing.

An appealing study schedule may motivate you to go through all the day’s work as scheduled. You can color code your list by week and maybe highlight your important days like the days meant for practice tests and actual tests.

USMLE Study Template

Finally, it is time to provide you with a Study Schedule template. The study schedule template provided is for the Step 1 USMLE exam, but you can apply it to other USMLE exams as well.


USMLE study schedule template

USMLE 1 study schedule


Few Last Tips

Passing USMLE steps require adequate preparation, don’t expect miracles to happen! Here are other few tips to help you pass your USMLE exams like a breeze.

  • Work hard! You will be doing zero work by cramming, dedicate you time for studying, stick to your schedule, and maintain mental and physical health, and all will be well with you.
  • Use recommended resources. Adequately review and preview board review books such as USMLEHelp books
  • Avoid nervousness! Anxiety will only make you forget what you want to read. Be calm and cool and study for your exam.
  • Relax! You deserve to take breaks. This will improve your mental health and help you feel refreshed for your next task.

How about you? What factors do you think are essential in creating your own USMLE study schedule?