How to Create a 12-Week USMLE Study Schedule

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • We explain how you can build a study schedule for the USMLE Step 1 with a 12-week sample study plan.

    With your Step 1 exam date soon approaching, it’s time to start thinking about creating a study plan. At Cram Fighter, we find that June is the most popular month for our customers to take Step 1. So in this blog post, we’re presenting a 12-week study plan to help you organize your schedule. You may choose to follow this plan to a tee. Alternatively, you may choose to use it as a general template, or you may choose to use it simply for inspiration. It’s up to you!

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    This 12-week sample study schedule employs a tactic that we find that students often use — organizing their USMLE study schedule into “study blocks.”

    1. The first study block includes question bank tasks only
    2. The second study block is a dedicated study period using First Aid plus questions from UWorld

    The first 53 days of this sample schedule’s study block are devoted to tasks from Firecracker and Kaplan’s QBank. We recommend spending 2 hours/night on roughly 19 or 20 questions each day during the week, and 4 hours/day on weekend days on 40 questions. Even though your workload during this period is light, schedule a catch-up day once every two weeks to give yourself time to finish overdue tasks and revisit questions that gave you trouble. After 53 days, give yourself a three day break before beginning your dedicated study block.

    Your dedicated study block will span 27 days. The bulk of your time will be devoted to studying from First Aid. You will also increase your daily number of questions as you begin working on UWorld. During this time, take two practice exams before your exam date. Schedule two catch-up days so that your overdue tasks don’t fall by the wayside.

    To use the complete schedule as a starting point for your own 12-week Step 1 study plan, download it as pdf or Excel sheet here.

    We recommend thinking of your schedule as fluid, and something that’s likely to change a few times as you progress and inevitably miss days due to life in general! By using Cram Fighter to create a 12-week study plan, you can take advantage of our rebalance feature if you fall behind. Our statistics show that, over the course of their study schedule, students rebalance their schedule 10 times on average!

    Cram Fighter supports hundreds of USMLE study resources, but you can also personalize your study plan by adding supplemental resources that you hear about throughout your study period. We hope this schedule inspires you to create your own. To get started, visit

    About the Author

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