Free High-Yield Study Guide For Last 5 Days Before the USMLE Step 1

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • One question I get time and time again from both students, and friends who know I tutor is, “Help, I have a week before test day, and I don’t know what to study.”

    The following study guide started out as a loose list of topics and book sections that I would always recommend to review during the last week before sitting for Step 1. I have since polished it into a free-to-download recommended study schedule for those final 5 days of studying before Step 1.

    Before you dive in, here are a few important notes and things to keep in mind:

    1. This study guide has been designed to be as high yield as possible

    … or essentially to give you the most bang for your buck to get you the most “extra” points on test day. As with any resource, adapt it to your strengths and weaknesses. Use this resource as a starting point for organizing your time and focus during the final week until Step 1.

    2. Remember that if you’re exhausted, it’s critical to give yourself a break.

    There is absolutely a point of diminishing returns, and that will be exacerbated if you are overtired and overstressed. A targeted approach with self care/fun factored in will go a long way toward maximizing your final study week.

    If you’re scared to do that, or aren’t sure how much time you can safely take off, talk to your tutor, advisor, or someone who’s been through it before and can realistically help you assess where you are and what’s reasonable for you to do in the home stretch.

    3. Resist rabbit holes!

    We often want to know EVERYTHING and it can be highly uncomfortable feeling like we’re leaving stones unturned or abandoning a topic that we haven’t quite gotten down yet (especially if it’s not on this list). However, the whole point of this guide is to keep things very high yield; to focus on the areas that have the highest probability of being tested.

    It’s also SO easy — especially when you’re exhausted — to default to working on the areas in which you are most/more comfortable. Again, resist that urge. By ensuring you’ve strengthened the areas I’ve outlined on the download, ESPECIALLY if they touch on any areas where you’re underperforming, you’ll have bolstered yourself significantly in the high yield/high probability of being tested areas.

    4. Mindset is key.

    Last but not least, take the time to cultivate your mindset prior to test day. Even if you’re crushing your assessments and are exactly where you want to be, taking a moment to appreciate what you’ve accomplished so far, and using positive self talk to sustain yourself in this last week and on test day itself will have an impact.

    If you’re dealing with crushing anxiety, talk to a professional so you can start putting the anxiety into perspective and dealing with it with tangible tools so it doesn’t derail you on test day. Lastly, if you’re not passing your assessments, talk to your advisor or a tutor to make sure you’re not setting yourself back by throwing a Hail Mary on test day.

    Good luck, and rock it!