USMLE Step 1 – How to Study (Dedicated Period)


For future physicians, the USMLE Step 1
board exam is arguably the most important exam you will ever take. I’ll share with you the strategies that will
maximize your score. What’s going on guys! Dr. Jubbal, The USMLE Step 1 consists of seven 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. This video primarily focuses on the dedicated
study period which generally varies between four and eight weeks. The take-home message of this video is that
you need to create a schedule and do your best to stick with it. Assuming you have a sound study plan, the
deciding factor on whether or not you’ll walk away with a score you’re happy with is having
the discipline to stick with it. A quick word on scheduling your tests; I had
a six week dedicated period and I took my tests four and a half weeks in. I used the remaining 10 days to go on a cruise,
and yes it was awesome! When scheduling your test, it’s important
to keep three things in consideration, first; more time is not always better. With time, your knowledge and test score will
start plateauing and at a certain point actually start dropping as you burn out. Secondly, you want to have a break before
starting the grueling journey that is your third year clerkships. And lastly, do not push your tests back for
the reason of not feeling prepared. You will never feel fully prepared and pushing
your tests back for this reason will likely do more harm than good. Now first, let’s decide your resources, the
UFAP protocol should be your core. This consists of UWorld, first-aid and Pathoma. I also use Goljan audio lectures for pathology
and Sketchy micro which I personally found tremendously helpful for Microbiology. If you are a visual learner like me, I highly
recommend it. Now, pick your resources carefully, you do
not want to have too many resources during your dedicated study period. You will quickly get overwhelmed and not be
able to get through all of them. NBME practice exams come into use as well
but they are not primary study resources. On to the schedule: creating a plan of attack
for yourself is key. I made my schedule in Excel and this is what
it looks like. Don’t worry, I’ll explain exactly how I got
to this point. You can download the excel document down in
the description below. This is what works for me and it’s fine for
you to use this as a base template but it is important that you personalize this for
your own strengths and weaknesses. For example, if your cardiology is weak, make
sure you spend more time on cards. If you struggle with finishing tests on time,
then make sure you do plenty of timed practice blocks to improve your pacing and so on. My days and weeks were highly structured and
this may not work for everyone. I personally preferred this because it removed
thinking from the equation. Everything was laid out and I just had to
follow it to achieve a killer Step 1 score. The first step in creating the study plan
was laying out my daily schedule. Each day, studying was divided into three
four-hour blocks of morning, afternoon and evening. I took five to 10-minute breaks once per hour
during each of these sessions. I woke up everyday at 6 a.m. As this was the time I would wake up on test
day. At 7 a.m., I walked to school and listen to
the Goljan audio lectures at usually 1.5 to 1.7 X speed. The morning study block started at 7:30 which
was always UWorld block of 46 questions. I would then review the block thoroughly until
11:30. Lunch was 11:30 until 12:00 and 12 p.m. Marked
the beginning of the afternoon study block. This block ended at 4 p.m. And I got a quick 30 to 45 minute workout
up until 5 p.m. I did evening blocks starting at 5 p.m. From home but they were broken up with dinner
as my mental endurance was waning later on in the day. The first half of the evening block was 5:00
to 7:00 p.m., dinner was 7:00 to 7:30 p.m. And the second half was 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
I was in bed and asleep by 10:00. I followed this daily structure from Sunday
through Friday. Every Friday evening block was for fun and
relaxation, meaning Fridays after 5:00 p.m. I did not work. Every Saturday morning until lunch time was
reserved for groceries and laundry and whatever other errands, but I got back to studying
immediately after lunch. So now that my daily schedule was determined,
I went back and prioritized my study materials to organize my weekly studying. I recommend going through first aid twice
and Uworld at least once, preferably also going through all of your in corrects a second
time around. I determined how many pages each first-aid
section was to help me estimate how many blocks to allocate to each system. Next, fill in with supplemental study materials
as needed. I had already gone through Pathoma twice before
my dedicated study period, so I only occasionally referenced it. I watched sketchy micro videos either during
my study blocks when I had assigned myself micro or during lunch breaks since I did find
the videos entertaining to watch. I did have an Anki deck but I rarely used
it during the dedicated study period as this was more useful earlier in second year when
I was still seeing material for the first time. I felt the application of that knowledge with
the UWorld questions and high-yield review with first aid was a better use of my limited
time. The reason I started my morning blocks with
the UWorld is because I needed to get used to test taking first thing in the morning,
and I also felt like my mind was freshest at this point. I tracked how many questions I completed each
day, the percentage correct and the number of questions remaining. This was important for me because it was really
encouraging to see my percentage answered correctly slowly rise over time as well as
the number of questions left unanswered slowly decline over time. At the beginning, I focus my blocks on the
systems I was studying. If I was studying microbiology in first-aid,
then I would do a block of maybe 20 questions on UWorld of just pure micro and then another
block of mixed questions. A couple weeks into my dedicated period however,
I exclusively did mixed blocks and UWorld with all topics as this was more representative
of the actual tests. Regarding practice tests, I recommend you
take one towards the beginning of your dedicated study period mostly for self-assessment purposes
and then the rest of them towards the end. These practices are really important, they
help you get used to the USMLE question style, they hone your endurance and they help master
your pacing. Make sure you take the practice tests mimicking
the real environment – which means wearing earplugs, timing yourself closely and sticking
to the time limits on breaks. More on breaks in a little bit. I took my first practice test which was an
NBME test within the first two weeks. I then took four additional practice tests
in the two and a half weeks before my test. I do not recommend taking a practice test
within the preceding 48 to 72 hours of your actual test as you do want to be fresh for
the real deal. And yes, you should absolutely review your
practice test and see what questions you got wrong. Come test day, relax because you have got
this. Be sure to check out the test day strategies
video well in advance of your test date and begin practicing those principles now. I would also add that you should go in with
a plan of how you will allocate your break time. If you’ve skipped the 15-minute tutorial at
the beginning, you will get a total of sixty minutes of break time. Some students like to skip their first break
and do two blocks back-to-back. I do not recommend this. Your attention span is not limitless. I instead recommend taking a break between
every single block even if that break is short. My break time was organized as five minutes,
five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes, ten minutes and ten minutes. Shorter breaks at the beginning since my mind
was less fatigued, one longer twenty minute break for lunch and ten minute breaks at the
end since my mind was more fatigued. I go over how to spend your break time and
other test day considerations in my test day strategies video. Link in the description below. Now, I cannot guarantee a certain score or
outcome but if you deliberately create a thoughtful schedule and stick to it, you will maximize
your score come test day. A word of caution though, you will fall behind,
trust me. I had a beautifully laid out highly ambitious
study plan and within the first two weeks, I was already falling behind. But that’s okay, readjust your schedule and
keep at it. There is nothing wrong with shifting things
around. Be realistic with what you can accomplish
during each study block but also don’t beat yourself up if you fail to achieve it. Readjust and keep moving forward. Thank you for watching and best of luck with
your Step 1 exam. For more Step 1 resources and study strategies,
check out the links in the description below. If you guys liked the video, make sure you
press that like button. Hit subscribe if you have not already and
I will see you guys in that next one.

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100 thoughts on “USMLE Step 1 – How to Study (Dedicated Period)”

  1. vietclick says:

    I was wondering by how many points did your practice score increase by from the first practice test to last practice test? Does dedicated study period generally increase your score by a lot ?

  2. DirtyUSMLE says:

    How to do well on USMLE/COMLEX: work really hard.

  3. Sougo Vi says:

    How do you master pharm for step?

  4. Saleh Alabood says:

    can you post a video about step 2ck please

  5. Jerry Lorren says:

    Super Talk that was! Reallly! i got through my step 1 with 247(i feel little low when dreaming top Universities) I'm an IMG as well! How to top in step 2 Ck! i mean a score of 270! Could you make a vlog or any idea?! Highly recommended nd appreciated!

  6. Ashish Verma says:

    Can you please upload the excel sheet?

  7. Shruti Sinha says:

    Where is your Excel Schedule link?

  8. Adnan A says:

    Ah I need this right now, thanks so much. I have step in a few months 🙂

  9. Ahmed Fatta says:

    Couldn't find the excel file :/

  10. Edward Huynh says:

    Thank you so much for the profound tips and strategies.

  11. raza ALI says:

    Its not a game of time its about luck . Thumbsup

  12. Ben Nguyen says:


  13. Spice Vein says:

    Great video! Can you talk a little more about your rationale for reviewing FA during dedicated instead of using anki? Most of the questions I miss are because I don't know small details, and I feel like when I plainly read FA I end up just remembering what I already know instead of focusing on the details.

  14. Mary C says:

    Can you please post the Excel spreadsheet? It looks amazing!

  15. Jasmine Robinson says:

    Great video! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Vishnu Gade says:

    Thank you

  17. Jo Ni says:

    Just wonderin' bout that awesome excel file …lol..

  18. Dominick Wright says:

    this is good but I am ENFP. This is literally my worst nightmare. Scheduling every minute for 2mo. JEEEZUZ But we gotta do what we gotta do.

  19. shukorina13 says:

    Thank you for this video! I’m not sure if I missed this but what was your approach to UW questions. Did you read all the explanations?

  20. Brian M. says:

    Can you post the excel file?


    nice video

  22. padard says:

    Care to tell us around what range you scored?

  23. Edward Huynh says:

    Your advices are the best!

  24. maneesha vasireddy says:

    Sir can u please give the list of books that you referred. Thank you 😊

  25. Vanessa Carbajal says:

    best motivational video ever !

  26. Green Brain Seaside says:

    in Excel File, on the B3, at the beginning, what does POM stand for?
    and on B4, Biochem PBM?

  27. kg062007 says:

    How to score a 260, be a complete psychopath, I'm a former med student, I'm not kidding.

  28. Omega says:

    How much did you get in step1?

  29. aroob fatima says:

    I love you man :")

  30. R Cabreezy says:

    Fellow MD here. Solid advice. Btw what animation program are you using ?

  31. Tony M says:

    Did you take it in summer after year 2?

  32. Zach Wendland says:

    I appreciate the overview of your schedule during dedicated period. When did you, however, start reviewing your material w/ your concurrent classes in medical school (i.e. before dedicated)?

  33. JRP1809 says:

    Hey! I really enjoy and appreciate your videos. Im starting medschool in July. Do you think the medschool education has a big effect on your step scores? Not everything you learn in medschool is going to be on the step. For example: if your school has systems based vs traditional lectures does it affect in anyway your preparation for the exam?

    Keep the awsome videos!!

  34. pablinchi25 says:

    The ‘you will fall behind’ part is sooo true 😂

  35. RayanTheBeast says:

    I'm doomed..

  36. Kuti says:

    Who this guy kidding? If u study 4h a day u will he smarter than professors… this dude is trolling us . I study like 2h daily and sometime 4 when a lot to do for dentistry uni and its more than enough

  37. JacobMakings says:

    What do you think about study programs like Kaplan Medical?

  38. Praneetha Modumudi says:

    What to do if you lose pace during my dedicated period

  39. Kyung Yoon says:

    will you be able to make a video of how to prep for step1 during a non-dedicated period? I am at the end of my second semester but having a hard time finding time to study for step. During the weekdays, I am trying to get through the lectures that are taught that day, and on weekends, I review the materials from the week or catch up on the stuff I am behind and do questions. I forgot a lot of first semester materials already and want to review, but I am just focused on what is coming. If you can post something to help me with this frastration, it will be very helpful. Thank you

  40. Paula González says:

    Do you recommend Kaplan text books or videos?

  41. Jay Ybañez says:

    Hi Can anyone please help me how to find the Excel file and to download it. The sheet is so awesome to track my schedule and stop being unorganized

  42. LTadrift says:

    this sounds so stressful lol

  43. wholeNwon says:

    One of my lab partners had the highest score in the U.S. Our class was the highest scoring in step one and the second highest on step 2. The class before ours were top scorers in both.
    We didn't do anything in particular to "prepare". Our whole med. school experience was our preparation. But we were tested every single week to be sure that we were absorbing what we needed to know. The faculty were very obsessive.

  44. varun singhania says:

    Thank you sir

  45. D Cooper says:

    what about the kaplan lecture notes !? thanks DR

  46. 金子裕介 says:

    A higher score of USMLE is very admirable. It is one of our dreams to achieve with difficulty actually. A requirement of high score is to understand diseases in details with physiological logics in my opinion. I am not good at clinical questions of USMLE because of lack of experiences in real clinical situations.

  47. 金子裕介 says:

    260+ is so high that most foreign medical students cannot achieve it without incredibly excellent students…

  48. tibouk tou says:

    Can someone clear me on wat happens after passing usmle step 2,we get license to practice I'm I ryt here?

  49. 金子裕介 says:

    Thank you for your detailed strategy and explanation for USMLE!

  50. Smrithi Thrilo says:

    is it useful to prepare for usmle during second year of med school or should i wait till final year

  51. Cao Cường Trịnh says:

    Give me excel file. Thanks a lot!

  52. Mahmoud Ahmad says:

    Couldn’t thank you enough that was extremely helpful!

  53. Inoisa Castillo says:

    The link direct me to a page… where is the excell schedule? I don’t find it

  54. Medicina Unibe says:

    Alright but when did you go to class?

  55. Nice Doctor says:

    Do you prefer home study or library?

    Do you do notes on your uw?

  56. Patrick Yeh says:

    Doc any advice on reviewing chunks of material that was long forgot or learned a long time ago?

  57. Zehra Q says:

    Excel file pls

  58. Abigail Dorkenu Dorkenu says:

    please l Want the school number

  59. Ultra Rays says:

    I use pretest practice questions and I find them helpful but I didn't take the test yet so I don't know the outcome of it. what do you think med school insiders?

  60. mystictruth says:

    Your the best thank you

  61. manika bhattacharya says:

    hello i have completed internship 5 years ago and i have done 3 years pediatric housejobs and now i am a medical officer in pediatrics.can i give usmle now that i have passed 5 years back.i am from india.

  62. Doctors Notes for Medical Students says:

    Thankyou God! I scored 280 in step I 🙂

  63. B7S 007 says:

    I wish if someone help in my jourmey to usa for applying for a medical college… I am now a bachelor in lebanon i have the us passpprt but i dont know if there is any loans? I dont know if american citizens are also obliged to take the steps exm or not?!

  64. Maryam Khalil says:

    Doesn't Uworld have max 40 question blocks?? I'm confused why your schedule and many others online says 46 – am I missing something?

  65. teleporteee Tea says:

    Omg I don't know ill survive this

  66. nikith nikith says:

    Can I please get a pdf for the schedule please

  67. Eman Chaudhri says:

    Hey, do you recommend using Osmosis? (or any other supplementary material like Lecturio or Firecracker)

  68. Michael Dob says:

    I checked the study schedule and did you study during the cruise? and did you do Uworld question already before your dedicated study time? Or why you started with Uworld Question 976?

  69. Nourhan Manar Elalem says:

    Do you have an excel for scheduling your free time?

  70. Luv Vibes says:

    Oneday i'll be a doctor in the United States.

  71. Shreyash Kaswa says:

    Which software do you use for editing and recording voice over ?
    Pls pls reply quick!

  72. Anastasiya Nestsiarovich says:

    Hey guys what is “Pathoma”?

  73. Shelicia Rogers says:

    Did you make your own Anki deck or downloaded one?

  74. ChestyMD says:

    Everything Goljan said would be in the test was in mine. I only used uworld and Goljan because I can’t read first books (e.g. first aid).

  75. Toyin Olivia Jibowu says:

    Thanks bro

  76. Tina Sood says:

    What about anatomy? What sources should I use?

  77. Ani Pazhava says:

    I really like lecturio's study schedule. They sent it to me on email after I got my one year subscription. It's very organize and time efficient. I'm just not able to sit down and do schedules by myself so it was very nice to receive something like that, prepared for me

  78. rummanat rubaiya says:

    My husband passed USMLE step 1 n got 245 marks!😍 he is now trying for step 2 … may allah bless him n also to me…bcz i'll try this in sha allah 😊 from bangladesh

  79. Andriy says:

    Does UWOLRD help with this?

  80. André Ferrer says:

    I think 8 weeks is too little time

  81. mohammad siddig says:

    Several questions future doctors about dedicated studying period time:
    When people say here "dedicated studying period" what do you mean by "dedicated"

    a) How long usually are these periods?

    b) How many hours a day to study in that period?

    c) How many NBME's do you do in that period?

    d) Do NBMEs start being taken in that period, or prior to?

    e) At what state are you in your studies once that period started? (e.g., how many times did you cover FA and Uworld?)

    Sorry, I'm really curious and you guys don't have to answer all of these questions.

  82. xlalaladida says:

    46 uworld question blocks? it says it's max 40 questions

  83. Mohamed Habib says:

    I love Pastest USMLE Step 1 Qbank it is very helpful and also cheap than other Qbanks. You can also use this code 18US119M911642M to get 60% off Pastest USMLE step 1 Qbank

  84. Claruu ss says:

    Hi I have a question, can I still go to the US to do my residency if my college isn't in the IMED? Thank you

  85. Elliot Berger says:

    how should one study M2 prior to dedicated

  86. Yesenia Medina says:

    Which one is better paperback first aid or ebook?
    I have the iPad pro 2018 but I like my binder.

  87. HonorableCharlesH says:

    I rarely post but I just wanted to call you out and say you're a jerk.The truth is you need LUCK to get a 260. There's absolutely no formula to get a 260.

  88. Aran Osman says:

    Do you have telegram group ? please tell me

  89. Naghe Fernanda says:

    About the excel sheet, where's the topic of embryology?

  90. Özgür Sancar says:

    Does First Aid include enough knowledge for +260 score

  91. Jehad Gamer says:

    What do you mean with block

  92. asna noor says:

    Thanks for the details !!

  93. ramon l gonzalez says:

    you are the best–AAA++++

  94. Ana Luisa says:

    Hello,i'm on the first year…I'm a medical student from Brazil,and i wanna do my residency in the US…I'm having the basic subjects now…And here medical school is 6 years…Do you recommend to start to study to the exam itself on the last years?Or so i start now?

  95. Marhaba Fatima says:

    I couldn’t find the excel file in description?

  96. Anicool Singh says:

    Why do they have 8 hour exam.. Fatigue is a big factor

  97. supriya Dixit says:

    Loved this vdo..i purchased kaplan nd lecturio in india nd watching them..they r really hlpfull..

  98. Lander McGinn says:

    This schedule seems ridiculous. When did you cook? Do laundry? Clean your house??

  99. Hassan says:


  100. S N says:

    Wish this was around back in 2008 for my step 1.
    Solid approach.
    Uworld x 2 is fairly bulletproof

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