How Osmosis Increased My Step 1 Score by 55 Points

Jan 17, 2019 by Gregory Wu

Throughout medical school, I have always been a very scheduled person. I liked to plan out my day from 7am until midnight which included what times I would study, what topics I would study when, when I would take breaks, eat and sleep. If I did not have a plan for the day, I would often be directionless and stress that I was being unproductive or wasting my day away.

One of the hardest parts of my week would not be following the tasks on the schedule, but figuring out what to put on my schedule and how to squeeze in all the things I had to study in that week. I continued this process for my classes until I was reaching the end of my second year and decided to take a practice NBME® in preparation for my dedicated Step 1 study period. I was shocked that my result was not better, and I knew that if I wanted to be a competitive applicant, I needed a plan and I needed it soon.

How I Found the Osmosis USMLE® Step 1 Plan

I have been using Osmosis since the first semester of medical school. My friends and I signed up together and collectively, we made over 90% of the flashcards for our classmates also using Osmosis. For every lecture, we would create flashcards on the slides and subsequently quiz ourselves multiple times before every exam. Because I was familiar with the platform, flashcards and videos that Osmosis provides, I decided to try out the Step 1 Study Schedule.


Try Osmosis free for two weeks and create your own customized study plan for your classes and the USMLE Step 1 or COMLEX-USA Level 1.


I began by entering my proposed test date, my UWorld progress, my intended resources and voila! Osmosis created a whole day-by-day schedule for me. It was exactly what I needed—a platform that I was familiar with that incorporated all of my resources to give me daily tasks and goals (i.e. pages to read, videos to watch, flashcards to do). One thing that I appreciate the most is that the plan allows you to insert what days you would like to take off of studying, as well as including a 2-week period at the end of your study schedule for a second pass of material and final review.

In comparing Osmosis to other resources like CramFighter or DIT, I appreciated that not only did I have a preset plan, but I also had flexibility in adjusting my schedule in case I decided to take days off or didn’t complete tasks for the day. I also appreciated that I was able to interact with my schedule, such as receiving the satisfaction of checking off tasks that I completed for the day!

How I Created My Study Plan

I created a 3-month study schedule using Osmosis with the goal to achieve a Step 1 score that would not limit me as an international medical graduate (IMG) for residency. I had incorporated the following resources into my Step 1 study schedule:

  • Pathoma
  • Sketchy Micro/Pharm
  • Boards and Beyond Videos
  • First Aid
  • UWorld
  • NBMEs, UWorld Forms (Do all of them!)
  • Osmosis Videos/Flashcards (The famous “Brosencephalon” flashcards are incorporated into Osmosis)

Besides following the tasks that Osmosis scheduled for me during the day, I believe there were two extra steps I took that helped boost my score immensely:

  • Create a Custom Step 1 Journal

    I am a big believer in flashcards. If you can memorize facts by brute force or just doing questions, power to you. However, I found that I would do a Uworld Question, understand it, and then completely forget about it a few minutes later. From the start of my UWorld studying, I created a “Custom Deck” on Osmosis, called it “Step 1 UWorld Journal” and made flashcards for facts I learned or questions I got wrong on UWorld. I would also include facts I learned from my practice NBME tests or Uworld Forms. (I had over 1500 created flashcards by the end).

  • Implementing Spaced Repetition

    One of the reasons I chose Osmosis to begin with was based on my reading of a book called Make It Stick, which argues that the foundation of memory begins with repetition and to space our recall at times when we are most vulnerable to forgetting. Osmosis does a great job at providing flashcards, but you must put in the effort to do them, and to use their Spaced Repetition feature to see them over and over again until you make it stick. I did this with a lot of the Osmosis flashcards, as well as for my custom UWorld Journal. Imagine how much information you could retain if you did thousands of flashcards!

My ideal study day would look something like this:

  • 8am-12pm: UWorld Set of 40 (I did Tutor Mode, by subject because I believe Uworld is a learning tool rather than testing tool)
  • 12-1pm: Lunch Break (No studying!)
  • 1-6pm: Osmosis Scheduled Tasks: Boards and Beyond Videos for associated topics (with note-taking into First Aid), Pathoma Videos, Sketchy Videos, Read First Aid pages
  • 6-7pm: Dinner Break (No Studying!)
  • 7-9pm: Osmosis Flashcards for the Assigned Reading Topics as Review
  • 9-10pm: Gym Break (While doing Uworld Journal FC/Spaced Repetition FC between sets)
  • 10pm: Relax

Note that my last two weeks looked a bit different as I did up to 200 Uworld Questions/Day, reviewed weaknesses and completed the rest of my NBME exams. It’s a time to practice active recall and testing of your knowledge!

I mention ideal above because most days, my schedule did not look like that—and that’s okay. We are human, and we have lives and things happen.

The key to using the Osmosis plan is to let it be your guide, and a plan that serves you and your needs. If you can’t complete a task for a day, mark it as incomplete and save it for another day. If you need to take a day off because you are burning out, implement it into your schedule and Osmosis will adjust accordingly (I scheduled 1 day off per week for half my study plan).

There will be days you will feel like you are chasing your schedule and falling behind and you will question your plan altogether. I am here to tell you to keep going. It won’t be easy, but with the right support, drive and motivation, you can do it! Osmosis carries the burden of taking the steps to set a schedule, you just have to run with it. It is the most amazing feeling to see your NBME scores rise and to come out of the exam knowing you gave it everything you have!


About Greg

Greg is originally from Emerson, New Jersey and is a third year medical student at Ross University School of Medicine. He is most interested in pursuing surgery or pediatric emergency medicine. While Greg isn’t studying, he enjoys playing musical instruments, hiking, and going to the zoo or aquarium.


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