Using Study Blocks to Align Step 1 Resources with Your Course Topics

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • We discuss a lesser-known but powerful use case for Cram Fighter’s study blocks feature.

    Among Cram Fighter’s many useful features for building and organizing a USMLE Step 1 or COMLEX Level 1 study schedule is our Study Blocks feature. Study Blocks are specific schedules within your overall “life” schedule or calendar, used to define units of time within your board exam study schedule that you can use to cover specific resources in a given time frame.

    For example, some students will use Study Blocks to schedule a period of “light” studying before their official Dedicated Study period begins. We’ve seen students take a block of 3 months and schedule 30 UWorld questions a day, or a number of Anki flashcards to complete per day during that 3 months. Then, they will use another Study Block to build a “heavier” study period for the duration of their Dedicated Study time, where they add in all the resources they will be using to study for their exam.

    Another way to use Study Blocks is to schedule specific resources, or chapters from those resources, to complement course content that you are working on at a given time. Some med schools’ syllabi in second year have students cycling through specific body systems for a few weeks at a time. Did you know that you can set up Study Blocks in conjunction with your coursework in Cram Fighter so that you are scheduled content that matches those body systems? This way you can efficiently study and reinforce course concepts to your board exam prep.

    Here’s how it works:

    1. Add your course syllabus to Cram Fighter.

    You can have the Cram Fighter team add your course syllabi to Cram Fighter, so that you can be notified of key dates for lectures, quizzes, and so on. Here’s an example from the University of Puerto Rico, where the current 2nd-year class has a course covering Skin from 2/23/21 through 3/1/21.

    Course syllabus

    2. Add course-specific tasks to your Cram Fighter schedule.

    Based on the courses added, you can then schedule course-specific tasks within your Cram Fighter schedule (such as, “Review lecture notes” or “do required reading.”)

    Review tasks

    3. Use Study Blocks to select the study material to cover for each class.

    Then, using the Study Blocks feature, you can build a specific schedule that focuses only on the lectures or chapters that focus on the relevant topic(s) from your courses. Set the start and end dates of the study blocks to be the same as the dates of your class. Next, using the example Skin class from above, when you’re adding a resource to this study block, choose the specific areas of your resource(s) which relate to that topic.

    In this case, you might add the “Musculoskeletal, Skin, and Connective Tissue” chapter from First Aid 2021, as well as the “Dermatology” lectures from Boards and Beyond, to this study block covering your Skin class.

    Resource selection


    Once set up your courses and added these resources, you will see the Course tasks as well as the supplemental chapters you chose in your study plan.

    USMLE study plan

    With Study Blocks, Cram Fighter makes it easy to organize your schedule by topic or body system, so that you can get the repeated exposure to different types of resources as you prepare for your classes as well as your board exams.

    If you need help setting up your Study Blocks to coincide with class topics, reach out to our support team any time at Ready to build your own topic-organized study schedule? Sign up for a free 7-day Cram Fighter trial today.

    About the Author

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