What to Do When You Fall Behind on Your USMLE Study Plan

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • Jessica Y., a student at CUSOM who scored a 654 on the COMLEX Level 1 and a 242 on the USMLE Step 1, shares how she handled falling behind on her study plan and learned to set achievable goals.

    Problem Solutions

    How did you get started studying for Step 1 and the COMLEX?

    I started studying around Thanksgiving. I tested out Cram Fighter to get a feel for how it worked. I did roughly 15 COMBANK questions a day. Many of my classmates focused on practice questions that pertained only to the block we were going through (e.g., they only studied renal questions during renal block). But I did questions from all subjects and disciplines no matter which block we were going through in class. I took notes on all of the questions I ever did (from COMBANK, UWorld, and Kaplan), and I saved them in a word document that grew to about 200 pages.

    Did you encounter any challenges in your schedule once you got started?

    Yes, Christmas break was one of the many times that I fell behind. My goals were too ambitious. I had planned more than I could feasibly do during my 3-week break. Had I been a little more realistic about how much time I actually intended to study, I might not have had this problem.

    How did you handle falling behind?

    I used Cram Fighter’s rebalance feature. I rebalanced my schedule fairly frequently (probably weekly in the months before the board exams). The reason I rebalanced my schedule was not always because I was getting behind. Sometimes, I would work ahead in one area (often because practice questions were my favorite to work on) so I would rebalance the other tasks to fill in empty time.

    It was nice to not have to juggle all of the resources and let Cram Fighter do the work.

    How did you reshape your schedule when you realized you were falling behind?

    I began my serious studying at the end of April, once classes were over. This time, I made more achievable goals using Cram Fighter, and I rarely got behind. During this time, I focused mostly on completing and repeating question banks. Cram Fighter was very helpful. Usually, I am very organized and make my own schedules, but in this case, it was nice to not have to juggle all of the resources and let Cram Fighter do the work – especially with my frequent use of the ‘rebalance schedule’ feature.

    About the Author

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