Game Plan to Pass NPLEX1

NPLEX 1 is an intimidating, challenging exam. It covers biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, microbiology, immunology, and pathophysiology. The exam contains 200 questions, broken into two 100-question, 2.5-hour sections. Many students told me before I took the exam that I would leave feeling as I had failed– and boy, were they right! However, when I received my results, I was pleasantly surprised with a flying pass. Feeling defeated after the exam is a standard and valid way to feel, but there are actionable steps you can take to maximize your success on this exam.

Create a study schedule and stick to it the best you can
There is so much information to review, you want to make sure you get through all of the high-yield information for every section and each body system. Take advantage of the study guide NABNE makes available for all test takers to figure out what you need to cover. Next, figure out how much time you have available to study. Finally, plan out all of the hours on a calendar. Research shows that students who spend between 100-200 hours studying have the highest pass rate. That’s about 4-6 weeks full-time or 8 12 weeks part-time.

Focus on high-yield information
I highly recommend Dr. Anderson’s FREE online NPLEX1 review class to get an idea of what high-yield information looks like for this exam. There is so much you could study, you want to ensure you are studying the right material and making the most of your study time. Other helpful resources include Sketchy Micro, Osmosis, class notes, and First Aid for the USMLE Step 1. Figure out which resources work for you and stick with those.

Focus on high-quality study sessions
High-quality study sessions involve recall, not just reading information. I utilized Anki cards for this. I created Anki card decks by body system and then sub-decks under each body system for biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, etc. Anki is more efficient than regular flashcards because the app tells you what cards you need to study each day based on spaced repetition and the cards you miss. This helps you understand what areas are weak and where you might need to spend some extra time. The key is to do your “due” cards every day!

These are a few actionable steps you can take as you plan your NPLEX1 studying. Most importantly, how you perform on this exam is not indicative of the doctor you will be. Deep breath. You’ve got this!

Laura Clevenger,
NUNM Chapter President

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