Preparing for USMLE: Creating An Efficient Study Schedule for The 3 Steps

Preparing for USMLE exam remains complex and requires strategic planning to pass the exam successfully. The preparation also includes a clear understanding of what the process entails. The status of your scores plays a vital role in the effort required to take part in the USMLE exam preparation. It remains the key point to undertake self-assessment tests that create an understanding of your knowledge status.

The article below aims to provide guidance, how to create an efficient study plan for the USMLE. Each person’s study preferences vary and depend on a diversity of personal factors. Besides the variables, the use of a logical study plan approach will allow students to reach the success they require. Before we deep into the details, let us see what the general process entails.

The Study Plan of USMLE

A study plan provides critical steps to follow that allow a person to reach their goals. The following vital steps play a crucial role to achieve success:

  • Undertake research and develop an understanding of the exam requirements
  • Determine what the pre-requirements are
  • Identify the time a person needs to fulfill your obligations
  • Undertake a gap analysis and identify the resources a person needs
  • Register for the eligibility process and schedule the exam
  • Set your goals
  • Develop a schedule and a timeline
  • Prepare for the exam
  • Complete the exam
  • Plan your career and future objectives

Understand the Process before Preparing for USMLE Steps

Without allocating too much time to explaining the details of USMLE, the following paragraph provides a quick overview of the process. USMLE stands for the United States Medical Licensing Examination. It allows an individual to obtain a license and practice a medical career in the US.

The application for a license requires several steps to reach the goal needed for the institution. The measures include the following:

USMLE Step 1 determines if a student is eligible to apply key concepts of fundamental medical sciences.

USMLE Step 2 requires a significantly more knowledge base. It includes the use of logical reasoning and understanding of scientific processes. It also focuses on the Clinical Knowledge and Skills base required to practice medicine.

USMLE Step 3 determines if an individual carries the capability to apply their medical skills and understand the biomedical as well as clinical sciences clearly. It also focuses on management concepts. Step 3 concludes the process by allowing persons to undertake a final exam.

Set Your Goals

To any person, taking part in an intense professional examination process remains daunting and overwhelming. To overcome the emotions of fear, the development of set study goals provides an individual with structure. The structure permits a person to work towards a set list of goals. To successfully pass the USMLE Exam, it becomes one of the most important key steps a student works towards and gives guidance as well.

The core of the exam focuses on achieving a high-level score. To accomplish the acceptable rating, which is higher than 240, a list of set objectives becomes critical.

The following goals provide insight into a proposed structure individual may work towards:

  • Determine your primary goal, for example, the score one reasonable wants to achieve
  • Focus on your secondary goals for example set-up of your study timelines
  • Set a final date required to finish a final exam and receive a license.

Study Methods

After a person determined their exam goals, the next step focuses on study methods aligned with the student’s circumstances.

  • Before one starts with the study methods, it remains best to take a diagnostic and understand where you are in terms of your knowledge set.
  • Use research skills and determine what study approach may work for you. Many practical guide books exist that allow individuals to receive support in terms of learning skills.
  • Start focusing on the more complex subjects and spend time on knowledge areas a person may struggle to apply.
  • Make use of old review material, study books, notes, and essays used during your study years. Review books provide an excellent overview of the leading knowledge areas.
  • Continue to undertake self-assessment tests to practice your knowledge skills.

The use of a well-defined study schedule guides a student in the process. Let us see the proposed study schedules available for use.

Prepare a Study Schedule

The critical aspect of the study plan relates to the development of a set schedule and timeline. To achieve your goals, the objects need to align with your estimated tasks and when delivery should take place. Start with a preliminary calendar. It gives the student some level of structure. In time individuals may revise and change the dates, depending on circumstances.

The schedule should include a specific breakdown of actions required to pass the exam. For example:

Task 1: Undertake a self-assessment test

Task 2: Research completed

Task 3: Subject matter studied and understood

Each task must contain a deliverable and aligned with a specific date. For example:

Task Description Delivery Format Delivery Date
Complete Step 1 Diagnostic Score Output – Electronic 12/12/2020
Comprehensive Step 2 Subject Matter Study Summary notes of material researched 12/03/2021

Take Self-Assessments

Self-assessments remain very important to regularly test your knowledge base and ability to answer questions successfully. A diversity of self-assessments exists and allows students to prepare for several examinations. Some of these self-assessments include the following:

Step 1 level: Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment (CBSSA)

Step 2 level: Comprehensive Clinical Science Self-Assessment (CCSSA) CK

Step 3 level: Comprehensive Clinical Medicine Self-Assessment (CCMSA)

The self-assessment tests allow individuals to reach higher scores and also determine the readiness to take part in the exam. A person who targets a specific score may use these tests to see if they can achieve their goals.

The self-assessment tests questions derived from a range of archived exams explicitly designed for medical students. The diversity of subjects included in these tests covers the critical areas required to answer the questions.

Exam Administration of USMLE

Besides the process and preparation of a study plan, the understanding of the exam administration process remains vital. Individuals may online apply for either of the three steps. Completion of the USMLE application document aligned with each step becomes a requirement. Depending on the student’s preference, Step 1 and 2, individuals can register without following a specific sequence. Step 3 can only be registered for if both 1 and 2 were completed.

The end certification received from ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduate) requires an individual to register on first. After that, a person books an eligibility period that allows an individual to book their exams. During this time the institution provides a scheduled timeframe and a list of instructions on how to book an exam.

Study Resources for Preparing for USMLE

Each student consists of different study needs and capabilities to prepare themselves for the exams. Experienced individuals continue to make recommendations regarding the proposed study resources upcoming candidates may use.

Some of these study resources include:

  • NBME self-assessment examinations
  • USMLE world question bank
  • First Aid material focused on USMLE Step 1
  • Lecture Materials, for example, Online MedED
  • Book Reviews or Summaries for example Uworld


After successful completion of the examination, a person receives a license to practice medicine in the US. To stay up to date with policy and regulation changes, it requires a professional to update themselves via the institution website. NBME and USMLE provide well-structured websites explaining critical updates and information needed to practice medicine.

Final Words

In conclusion, to create an efficient study plan for the USMLE one needs to develop a well-defined strategy. The strategy consists of understanding the process, goal setting, development of a clear schedule, use of helpful study resources, and follows the exam registration process diligently.

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