Purpose and Goal

Calendar Sync GraphicWe believe that there is no single USMLE Step 1 study resource that sufficiently covers all of the material required to maximize your score on the exam. Furthermore, there is a substantial amount of preparation time required to maximize your score on the exam. Thus, it is of the utmost importance that your USMLE Step 1 schedule comprehensively but efficiently covers all topics necessary to excel on the exam.

Our two-phase approach consists of a less rigorous Phase I which may be completed while taking medical school courses or during committed study time; you choose the duration of Phase I depending on how your schedule permits. A more rigorous Phase II consists of an intensive schedule of question sets, practice exams and supplemental study materials which covers more than 4,000 unique practice questions, many of which are repeated to solidify important concepts. In total, you will perform more than 6,000 total practice questions during Phase II.  Between Phases I and II, you will perform more than 8,000 total practice questions, encouraging application rather than memorization of material.

Our Two-Phase Approach Described:

Phase I 
Phase I reviews the topics and concepts covered throughout the first two years of medical school, providing a critical framework for the more rigorous Phase II.

Resources within Phase I are:

  1. First Aid for the USMLE Step 1
  2. Pathoma Fundamentals of Pathology Text and Videos
  3. USMLE-Rx Step 1 Qmax Question Bank (from the authors of First Aid)
  4. Optional reference: Goljan Rapid Review Pathology
  5. Optional references: Microcards, Pharmcards, Biochemistry and Genetics Flashcards

Note:  The developers of USMLExcellence used Lippincott’s Microcards, Lippincott’s Pharmcards and Lange Biochemistry and Genetics Flashcards.

To be selected by you depending on your preferences, the duration of Phase I can be selected as 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 weeks. Each duration option of Phase I covers approximately the same amount of material. We strongly encourage you to complete Phase I, but it is not required if your schedule does not permit.

The developers of USMLExcellence used a 9 week Phase I and completed it while also completing medical school coursework. A 9 week Phase I requires approximately 2-3 hours per day, with one full day off per week. Shorter Phase I schedules require proportionally more time per day but all include one full day off per week.

Phase II 
Phase II is the cornerstone of USMLExcellence and continuously reviews all important topics covered on USMLE Step 1.

Resources within Phase II are:

  1. USLMEWorld Step 1 Question Bank
  2. Kaplan Step 1 Question Bank
  3. Pathoma Fundamentals of Pathology Text and Videos
  4. Optional References: First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, Goljan Rapid Review Pathology (while reviewing potentially unclear question bank answers)
  5. Optional References: Microcards, Pharmcards, Biochemistry and Genetics Flashcards (First Aid or flashcards for evening studying)

While solidifying important concepts, Phase II simulates test day conditions on a daily basis and builds the endurance necessary to succeed on a challenging 7-hour exam. To be selected by you depending on your preferences, the duration of Phase II can be selected as 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 weeks. Each duration option of Phase II covers approximately the same amount of material. All users must complete Phase II to maximize USMLE Step 1 Score.

The developers of USMLExcellence completed a 6 week Phase II during committed Step 1 study time. A 6 week Phase II schedule requires approximately 8-10 hours per day six days per week and a half day off once per week. Longer Phase II schedules require proportionally less time per day. You may take more or less time per day depending on your study style and knowledge level of each topic. You may also modify the schedule if you are working too quickly or slowly to cover more or less material. WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE THAT YOU DO NOT EXCEED 12 HOURS/DAY TO AVOID BURNOUT.

Modifying the Curriculum to Fit Your Schedule

For either Phase I or Phase II, you will select a duration that you would like to study. For your selected duration, you can preview the schedule and assignments for each day, as well as change the order of days within our pre-made schedules. For example, if you do not want to spend three consecutive days on a single topic, you may move that day earlier or later within the pre-made schedule.

You will then select a start date for your chosen phase and duration. Then, a study schedule for your selected phase and duration will be synced with your smartphone or tablet’s calender application, which in turn can sync with other calendars synced with your device (Google, Exchange, etc). Within your smartphone or tablet’s calendar application(s), you may also move, add or remove scheduled days. You may also change the study content for any individual day within your smarphone’s calendar application.

Important: Our schedules consist of performing USMLEWorld twice through in a specific sequence. If you do not have a 6-month subscription to USMLEWorld, you do not have the option of resetting the question bank and erasing its memory of questions you have performed.  For shorter subscriptions, we recommend marking each individual question while going through the question bank the first time and un-marking those questions while your perform the question bank a second time. This will prevent your from unnecessarily repeating questions more than twice, as we have assigned. 

Important: If you allow USMLExcel to sync with iCal, default iOS device settings will put your selected schedule into your default calendar (which many people use for exams, deadlines, social events, etc).  If you at any point choose to delete a chosen schedule in favor of another one, you would be required to delete events day by day within iCal.  To avoid this, you may add a new calendar by going to Calendars–>Edit–>Add Calendar.  Then go to Settings–>Mail, Contacts, Calendars–>Under ‘Calendars’ heading, select Default Calendar as the newly created calendar.  At this point, go back into USMLExcel and select and sync your chosen schedule with iCal.