How to Build an Effective 3-month Study Plan

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • We provide some guidelines for creating your own USMLE study schedule if you have 3 months to prepare.

    Suppose you want to create a 3-month schedule to study for the boards. What will your study plan look like? It might be hard to imagine at first, so let’s consider a few key questions to help you understand your options.

    Study resource combinations

    Which study resources will you use to prepare? If you haven’t decided yet, check out We list the most popular resources for each exam based on the study plans that Cram Fighter users create.

    You’ll notice that most students use First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, often called the “Step 1 Bible,” as well as UWorld. Our 3-month sample schedules list various resource combinations that include First Aid and UWorld to help you decide which combination will work for you. For a 3-month study plan, we suggest choosing one broad-ranging lecture series, like Pathoma or Boards & Beyond.

    We also list schedules that include SketchyMicro as a supplemental resource. If you wanted to ensure you’re well-versed in bugs, add this resource to a separate, parallel study block. This way, you’ll see a few tasks from Sketchy everyday, no matter what subject you’re studying in First Aid and your lecture series.

    Multiple passes

    Second, when can you complete your first pass of First Aid? 3 months is enough time to get through the material twice, giving you a firm foundation for Step 1. In our sample schedules, we spend 2 months on our first pass of First Aid, covering about 10 pages per day. The final month of study includes a second pass of First Aid (this time, at a faster pace of about 23 pages per day). In our sample schedules, we also incorporate a second pass of your lecture series (other than SketchyMicro)

    Practice tests

    Last, choose when you will take practice tests in advance. Our sample schedules incorporate 2 practice tests, one at the beginning and one at the end of your first study block. You can use your test results to prioritize your weak areas during your second pass of First Aid. Since you have created a second study block for your second pass, you can vary the subject order in order to give yourself upfront review of the toughest organ systems for you.

    Our sample schedules are meant to serve as a springboard for you as you create your own, customized schedule in Cram Fighter, so don’t worry if your schedule looks different. If you have any questions as you create your personalized Step 1 study plan, reach out to us via email at If you need expert advice from students who have taken the boards, whether it’s simply reviewing a study schedule you created, or building an entire study strategy from scratch, check out our new tutoring service at

    About the Author

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