How to Manage Your Blueprint Prep Study Plan When Your Exam Date Is Unexpectedly Moved or Cancelled

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • We surveyed our network of Campus Heroes for advice about how students are reshaping their schedules in light of the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic.

    For second-year med students, coronavirus has thrown a major wrench into the works. Having closed down for more than a month, testing centers are now rescheduling board exams, and students are struggling to cope with the uncertainty. Luckily, med students are all in the same boat together and can draw on each other for advice and guidance. At Cram Fighter, we’ve collected some information from our network of class leaders to learn how med students are handling board prep under changing circumstances. Here are three moves students are making in light of testing center closures.

    Taking a breather

    When we asked med students to share advice for dealing with the uncertainty, many students said to be kind to yourself. Studying for Step 1 during a global pandemic is an incredible feat in its own right, and taking self-care seriously is even more important now. We found that med students have chosen to take anywhere from one week to one month off as they adjusted to the realities of their new dates:

    • “I took about a month break so I wouldn’t burn out, but now that I’m about 5 weeks till my new date, I’m starting to get back into it.”
    • “I took a week off and now I’m studying again.”
    • “All of us worked so hard to get to this point, just take a mental break and remind ourselves why we are pursuing medicine in the first place. We’ll probably face more uncertainty and unexpected circumstances in the near future; we should try to stay positive and make sure to have friends, classmates and family members to keep us accountable.”
    Spreading out resources

    Many students are covering the same material over a longer period of time. Here’s how one student responded when their exam date was pushed.

    “I have spread out my studying quite a bit. The addition of the old NBMEs has been very helpful and I do one every other week. My first date was cancelled a week away from my exam so I was already in the middle of very intense study. My plan is to start ramping my studies up again 4 weeks before my test date by covering my weak areas from the old NBMEs. I have also tried to stay up to date on my Anki flashcards as light studying.”

    Spreading out your resources with Cram Fighter is a simple, 3-step process:

    1. Change your exam date by clicking Edit exam
    2. Change your last study block’s end date
    3. Rebalance your schedule

    Cram Fighter is built to handle fluid and changing schedules, so getting a recalibrated schedule is easy. If you have accumulated overdue tasks, the silver lining is that you may now have time to redistribute them and cover any topics you missed.

    Finding time for supplemental resources

    With so many resources to choose from, you may have had to exclude a useful supplemental resource when you first created a study plan. If you find yourself with more time that you initially thought you would have, consider creating a new study block to tackle a new resource. After changing your exam date, click Create study block on the Edit Schedule page and search for your resource on the Resource Selection page.

    Scheduling a second pass of a valuable resource

    As the old adage goes, “Repetition is the mother of all learning.” A new study block is also perfect for scheduling a second pass of a high-yield resource, like an in-depth lecture series or First Aid, the Step 1 Bible. One student recommended that med students “think of each month of delay as an extra 5-10 points on your overall score and more time to do all the stuff you thought you didn’t have time for, such as more Anki, second pass of Sketchy, etc.”

    How Cram Fighter is responding to the pandemic

    Cram Fighter recognizes that these are difficult times, and everyone is under a lot of stress in light of ever-changing exam dates. We know that med students may have originally chosen a Cram Fighter subscription based on an exam date that has now been cancelled or moved. So we are helping our subscribers out by working to provide subscription extensions to customers who were affected by changing exam dates. If you need to keep using Cram Fighter past your original subscription end date due to these changes, or if you need help adjusting your schedule due to new test dates, please email us at, and we’ll work with you to extend your subscription.

    However you choose to approach your new exam date(s), keep in mind that you’re not alone, and you can always find support in your community, whether it is your school or your fellow med students. As one student said, “It is difficult knowing that a future-determining test keeps moving, but I’m not the only one. Residencies are going to remember this happened. People in medicine are not going to easily forget COVID-19, and there will be appropriate measures taken to ensure that our class still becomes the excellent physicians we were always going to be.”

    About the Author

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