Preparing for the USMLE Step 1 is one of the greatest challenges faced by a med student. Whether you’re an M2 heading toward your test date with destiny or an IMG/FMG who is chasing the dream of taking the Step 1 so that you can practice in the United States, the journey often seems perilous. However, with the right mindset and the right approach, you can achieve your objective. But…you need to have a plan.
To get started, we recommend that you watch the introduction from Dr. Iyer:
The Rx Study Planner is in Google Docs, so the first thing you need to do is make a copy of it and name it.
Please note that the Rx Study Planner won't work in Microsoft Excel.
To set up your Rx Study Planner, go to the Daily tab. Set up a daily plan that might seem easy to you at first. Because, after a few weeks or months of concentrated studying, it's not going to seem nearly as easy. Then enter how many hours you plan to set aside for the following areas:
- Sleep: Note your sleep requirements and input the number of hours of sleep you need to function optimally
- Meals: this is the other essential. Take into account the fact that you not only need to eat but also, in many cases, you need to do the dishes.
- Self-care: this is stuff like personal hygiene. Exercise is critical because since you're going to be spending a lot of your days for the next few weeks sitting your butt down in a chair and studying. Exercise really helps you clear your mind and gets your blood flowing. It's also a good way to let off some emotional tension that will undoubtedly build up over this period of time.
- Material review: You may need to apportion proportionally more time to material review, depending on your comfort with the core topics.
- Question Bank
- Question Review (Going over questions)
- Miscellaneous: Any other tasks or hobbies (like playing the guitar) that you want to plan for.
Then map out the structure of your typical day in the daily calendar. See if your hours line up. Once you've completed this tab, you can go to the Monthly tab.
- Start by entering the dates of the first day of each week in the blue row of the first column to keep track of the time between the start of your dedicated study period and your Step 1 exam.
- Most days will be spent following your schedule from the Daily tab. If you plan to spend the day on something else (practice tests, going over weak points, days off), enter it in the blue row.
- Count the number of full- and half-study days on your schedule, enter them in the yellow box, then do a REALITY CHECK! The sheet will calculate the approximate number of First Aid pages worth of material you have to study per hour. Does this seem like a realistic pace?
- If you're planning to cover a certain number of questions, enter that number above (optional). Then do another REALITY CHECK. Does the approximate number of hours spent on questions per day match the time you allocated to them on the Daily tab?
- Adjust your Monthly and Daily planners to accomplish your goals realistically, then move onto the next worksheet (Subject List) to determine how much time each subject will take.
- Use the drop-down menus to select subjects to review during each study day that you've planned. As you select subjects, your total number of hours of study for the day will be calculated. Based on how many hours you allotted for concept review each day, the cell will either turn red (if you need to increase your review time) or blue (if you need to decrease your review time). Ignore if you only plan to spend a half-day studying.
- You can spread a single subject over multiple days. If you assign a subject to multiple days, the calendar assumes you will study half one day and half on the other (the same goes for three, four, or any number of days).
On the Subject List page, you can choose the amount of effort you need to expend on each of the core subject areas in First Aid.
- Go through the list of subjects and determine how carefully you have to review each subject using the highlighted dropdown menus. Normal Review is probably fine for most areas.
- Assign a subject Careful Review if you're rusty and it's a high yield topic. (Time allotted per page = 1.5x normal review.)
- Assign a subject Intensive Review if:
- a) You didn't learn the subject properly the first time and probably have to reread the textbook/review Bricks/rewatch the videos to understand it, or
- b) You'd like to do two passes of the subject (Time allotted per page = 2x normal review)
When you've finished your review of a subject, mark it as complete by placing an X in the Complete column. The system will then calculate how much you've covered in the total at the bottom of the column.
Now, go back to the previous sheet (Monthly) and start at Instruction 7 to schedule the topics you need to cover each day!
If you need more than a study planner to get you back on track, we encourage you to sign up for a free consult with our Rx Coach service: www.rx-coach.com. Our tutors can help you ensure that you're ready for your exams and the boards.