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Four Tips for Setting Up Your USMLE Step 1 Dedicated Study Block

  • by Erica Forrette
  • Apr 19, 2017

We explain how best to create a dedicated study block using Cram Fighter as students gear up for the final stretch of USMLE Step 1 preparation.

Many students organize their USMLE Step 1 prep into two periods, a light studying period for studying during classes and a dedicated studying period of more intense preparation. With Cram Fighter, students often create two separate study blocks. Below we list four key tips for planning a study block during your dedicated study period for Step 1.

Tip #1: Take a practice test before your dedicated study block begins.

Taking a practice test will help you pinpoint your weakest subjects and give you a sense of how much progress you have made in retaining the material. Once you see your practice test results, use this information to strategize. For example, within Cram Fighter, you can change your sorting options, so that you start with your weakest subjects. You might also use practice test results to choose supplemental resources.

Tip #2: Plan catch-up days.

During their dedicated study periods, many students study eight hours a day or more. Falling behind is natural and expected – this is a marathon, not a sprint! Planning ahead by using Cram Fighter to include catch-up days with no scheduled tasks tohelp you stay on track when your workload is heavy. During your light study block, you may have set your catch-up days in Cram Fighter to occur once every two weeks, but now you may find weekly catch-up days more conducive to your workload.

Study Blocks

Tip #3: Give a resource another pass.

Study blocks are useful for going over a resource more than once, and they say “repetition is the mother of learning.” If you studied from First Aid during your light study block, consider adding it to your dedicated study block. Based on the length of your dedicated study block, you’re likely to go through this resource a second time at a different pace.

Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to create multiple study blocks.

Most students create one dedicated study block that spans the length of time their school sets aside for Step 1 prep. However, nothing is stopping you from creating smaller study blocks for this time period. Think of study blocks like mini-schedules within an overall schedule. Use study blocks that span two or three weeks to give a resource one more pass or ramp up your question bank tasks closer to your exam date. You will find that our 7 week sample schedule uses this strategy.

Need help setting up Study Blocks during your dedicated study period, or have questions on how to best use Cram Fighter to manage a heavier study schedule? Feel free to reach out anytime – email us at and we’re always happy to help. Good luck!

About the Author

Erica Forrette is the former Director of Marketing at Cram Fighter.