Creating an NPLEX study schedule will be an individual process, different for each student. Look at the time period before the examination days (4 weeks or 12 weeks). Do you have any commitments during this time? Are you attending any weddings or birthdays? Are you working part-time? Consider these factors first. Our general recommendation is to treat NPLEX studying like a full-time job. In other words, studying 5 days a week, for 8 hours per day. If you are a morning person, set-up your study days so that most of your time is spent studying in the morning. If you are a night-owl, set-up your study days that way. The top recommendation based on medical research is to study test material in conditions that are similar to how you will actually be tested. In this case, NPLEX runs during the day in a large and generally quiet room, so the optimal study day will run from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily.

Planning Your Schedule


Schedule all the content you want to study.


Track your studying and re-adjust as necessary.


Schedule regular and thorough review time.


Schedule time for testing or quizzing.

There are a few guiding principles that should be followed as you are planning your weeks. First, make sure that you schedule all the content you want to study. This sounds like a simple task, but can actually be quite difficult when you consider that these exams are testing years of material in one sitting. Some will suggest studying your weakest topic area first and then moving to your strongest topic area by the end. This can be a risky strategy if you do not review properly, as you will have the lowest recall of the material you study early on. Our recommendation is to stagger your study topics in whatever way is most logical to you. For example, you could study by organ system or by pathology, or you could study based on how the resources you have are structured. As long as you cover all the material and you are studying effectively, the actual order should not be too important.


Second, make sure that you track your NPLEX studying and re-adjust as necessary. Studying is not a static process. You may think that you are not strong in pharmacology and set-up 2 weeks to study it. Then when actually going through it, you realize you’ve finished and feel confident within 1 week. It is time to re-examine your schedule and see how you can modify it to use the remaining time effectively. On the other side of the coin, you may over-estimate your abilities in a particular subject, or your ability to read a certain amount of pages within a week. You now need to change how you use your time to make sure you can still cover all the material. Our usual recommendation is to keep the last day of your study week on the lighter side, so that it allows for some extra material if needed. You can also consider using weekend days as catch-up. Keep your NPLEX study schedule flexible.


Third, schedule regular and thorough review time. Reviewing has been shown to improve recall and understanding, improving test scores. With NPLEX exams, there is a large volume of material and so reviewing can become quite challenging. Schedule a daily review at the end of each day, a weekly review at the end of each week, and a topic review at the end of each major topic area. The additional reinforcement of the material in this way will be helpful.


Fourth, schedule time for testing or quizzing yourself. This technique provides you with a practice run of testing conditions. It reinforces material that you know well and flags for you material which you do not understand. As a bonus, you’ll often find that by having a good resource to test yourself, you will end up seeing very similar questions on exam day.