How To Use Cram Fighter’s USMLE Sample Schedules
- Apr 13, 2021
Every year, we post PDF and Excel sample study schedules for the boards. Here’s how you can use our sample schedules to create your own personalized study plan.
If you’re building a study plan for your USMLE Step 1 exam, you know how daunting the process can be. Not only do you need to first figure out what resources you’ll use, you then need to organize them so that you study everything by your exam date. Cram Fighter’s extensive list of free sample schedules can help you get started.
We’ve organized our sample schedules by duration, then by included resources. The free USMLE sample schedules are offered in .pdf and .xls format. We’ve focused on the most popular Step 1 resources that we generally see our customers adding to their study plans. Do you know your exam date and thus how long your study schedule needs to be? Go to our main sample schedules page and select the duration that matches your needs.
Once you’ve selected your schedule duration, on the next page scan through the various resource combinations and choose the sample schedule that best matches your resources. Download the PDF if you just want an un-customized schedule or the .xls if you want to personalize it. It’s important to note that in building these sample schedules, we used a very basic approach that evenly divides the resources over the duration of the study schedule. We also included a “catch-up day” on which no study tasks are scheduled, roughly every two weeks. Use this “blank” day to catch up on any tasks you haven’t completed so far.
Now it’s up to you to start studying using your chosen sample schedule! The rows are labeled by day, and break down the resources according to subject and the corresponding video lectures or book chapters to go through in those materials. As you complete each day’s study tasks you can cross out the rows.
It’s important to note that our free sample schedules are intended as a starting point, and you’ll likely want to customize them. Here’s why:
- They follow a rigid subject order. Based on your weak areas or priorities, you may have a specific topic order that you plan to use. Alternatively, you may want to personalize your subject order to match the body system you’re studying in your classes. (This way you can get multiple exposures to the same topics and hopefully study more effectively with that repetition.) By creating a personalized study plan with Cram Fighter, you can exercise more control over your subject order, and you can even change your priorities in the middle of your study plan.
- They do not account for any variance in how many hours per day you’ll be studying. Study tasks are just evenly distributed across each day in the schedule’s duration. The reality is that many med students need to customize their board exam study hours per day based on their overall life schedules. For example, maybe you have more time on weekends and no time at all on Mondays to study for the boards. Our static sample schedules don’t account for situations like that.
- They do not account for any planned days off. It’s rare that med students progress through their entire board exam study schedule without taking any pre-planned “personal days,” like a day off for a special event. You’ll want to customize your Step 1 study schedule around your pre-planned days off, in advance, so you aren’t working from a schedule that has study tasks set for a day you won’t be able to do them.
- Catch-up days don’t match what you might need. The catch-up days that are baked-in to these sample Step 1 schedules occur roughly every 2 weeks. You may want to have a more frequent recurring catch-up day, which affects the study tasks you need to complete in the other days (building in more “days off” means you have fewer days to complete the tasks / go through all the resources in time for your exam.)
Obviously, we recommend that you use Cram Fighter to build a personalized schedule that includes the custom settings you need. In addition to the reasons listed above, another big advantage to using Cram Fighter to build and manage your study schedule is the magical Rebalance feature! This feature is a huge help if you fall behind in your study schedule and overdue tasks start piling up.
With Rebalance, you press a single button, and Cram Fighter will do the work in seconds to reorganize your schedule and recalibrate your overdue study tasks, so that you still make it through your resources in time for your big exam. On average, we’ve seen our users rebalance their schedule 10 times. Reorganizing your study tasks manually is a huge time sink… and imagine having to do it as many as 10 times with an Excel spreadsheet. Students who use Cram Fighter prefer to spend their valuable time studying, not organizing.
Give Cram Fighter a try today for free! You can sign up for a 7-day trial to view and manage the first 7 days of a study schedule with unlimited access to these key features. Got questions? Our support team is here to help if you get stuck. Just email email@example.com. We hope to see you on board soon.
About the Author
Erica Forrette is the former Director of Marketing at Cram Fighter.