Return to Blog Homepage

Tips for Creating an Effective Step 1 Study Plan

Need some advice for building a Step 1 study schedule? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a summary of some of the best study tips we’ve received over time.

Every great Step 1 score starts with a plan, but starting the process can be intimidating. That’s why we are always looking for the best practices and Step 1 study strategies that med students are using to prepare. Below we’ve collected some of the best tips for building a Step 1 study plan.

(1) Trust Your Fellow Medical Students

We hear it over and over and see it reflected in surveys we conduct with our customers: the most common source of advice for Step 1 test-takers is upperclassmen. To feel more confident that you are on the right track, don’t be afraid to ask people who have already taken the exam for help. To get started, check out our list of tips for upperclassmen from our article: Study Tips for the USMLE Step 1 or COMLEX Level 1 from Upperclassmen. We polled our own 3rd- and 4th-year Campus Heroes at med schools across the country to collect their best advice for M2s.

We also recommend reviewing our new series of med student interviews. In this series, we’re drawing upon the experiences of M3s and M4s who excelled on Step 1. You can start with our interview with Areeka M., VCOM class of 2021. This article includes links to all of our interviews.

As well, don’t forget to check out Reddit or Student Doctor Network. Some of the best Step 1 advice is found on online forums, so if you don’t have many upperclassmen contacts, it never hurts to hear from students at other schools.

(2) Choose Your USMLE Resources Wisely

Your Step 1 resources will greatly influence the structure of your study plan. To get the lay of the land, check out our stats on the most popular Step 1 resources used by Cram Fighter customers at If you want to hear what med students are saying about top Step 1 resources, we recommend our recent blog post: Quick Takes on USMLE Step 1 Resources. Finally, you may have heard about the UFAP or UFAPS study strategy through the grapevine, but before you try it for yourself, read up on how med students have modified this approach in recent years.

(3) Create a Personalized USMLE Step 1 Study Plan

At Cram Fighter, we’ve collected dozens of study plans with different resource combinations. But a successful approach to Step 1 will include some customization and personalization, since study planning for Step 1 is not one-size-fits-all. Use our sample schedules as a starting point, but then build your own schedule using our 7-day free trial. You will find that even a simple study plan can be customized to suit your specific schedule and academic needs. To see what features might come in handy, take a look at the advice we’re collecting for study plans of various lengths, such as our article on the best practices for 3-month USMLE study schedules.

About the Author

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