Subject: Friend, The Most Essential Elements of an OSCE Study Plan

    Hello Friend,

The Most Essential Elements of an OSCE Study Plan

Today we will outline the fundamental parts of organizing an effective OSCE study plan which we will then elaborate on in future posts.

So you’re studying for your OSCE preparation. The stakes are high, and we know how much pressure you feel, because we’ve all felt it. These exams will cover more material than you’ve ever been tested on at once. How will you prepare for an exam that has the potential to affect the rest of your career? 

The good news is that you can excel on the OSCE… as long as you take the time to create a strong and strategic study plan. This is what separates the good from the great. Our goal is to make sure you design an OSCE study plan that gives you the best chance of success on the exam. 

Below is a list of the most essential elements of an OSCE study plan:


A study timeline is the foundation upon which the rest of your OSCE study plan is built. There are a number of factors that will determine your particular OSCE study timeline. 

For example: 

  • Will you be studying full-time for the exam, or will you be on rotations?
  • Do you have a job?
  • Do you have family obligations that will interfere with your studying?
  • Do you have a deadline for taking the exam that has been imposed on you by your school or circumstances?
  • How will your test date affect which match cycle you can enter? 

Once you’ve answered those questions you can determine how many hours a day you can commit to, and work backwards from there. We will cover this in greater detail later on.

Your Starting Point

It is extremely important that you start your OSCE preparation with a clear understanding of your needs and a baseline score. If you have relatively few weak points, you may need less time to prepare for the OSCE than if you have more weak points. This is why assessment tests with study partners are so important in your OSCE preparation. Your med school grades may not be good indicators of how well you will perform on the OSCE because they are not standardized and do not reflect the more complex clinical style of OSCE. 

OSCE Study Schedule

With the above ingredients in hand, you can now create a detailed OSCE study schedule. This is arguably the cornerstone of OSCE preparation and should be detailed enough (preferably hour by hour) not to leave anything to chance. It should include the subject(s) you will be studying each day, the book(s) you will be reading from (along with the specific pages), the number of questions you will do, and the amount of time you will spend reviewing the answers (and even when you will take study breaks). Your study schedule is like the directions at the end of a recipe in a cookbook. If you have all the right ingredients but don’t know how to put them together, your dish will not be very successful.  

How to Make Your Plan

As you can see, designing a personalized OSCE study plan is pretty complex. How do you know if your study plan is good for you? You could google “OSCE study plan” or search any one of a number of OSCE forums to see what others have done, but how will you know if your study plan is good for you? 

Let us dive a little deeper into the details of setting up your OSCE preparation timeline.

If you are like most students thinking about or starting your OSCE preparation, it's likely you're already coming face to face with difficult questions:

How much time do I need to reach my goal?

When will I be ready?

How can I arrange my time so I reach my potential—without burning out?

These are questions we've all faced with some anxiety. What we learned along the way is it's essential to confront these issues systematically, realistically and honestly. Sometimes things will feel arbitrary (is it really enough to study pediatrics for just two days?) but the key is to balance the need for review and practice with the need for completing your preparation as quickly as possible before burnout sets in. Let's start looking at how you can do just that.

How Much Time Do I Need?

Every study timeline will be specific to the individual test-taker. For example: If you are a mother of two children under the age of 5, you may have to allot more total study time than your friend who is single and living on his own. The same goes for other things that may compete with your study time, such as a part-time job, medical school rotations, or other obligations you simply cannot push off until after the exam.

No matter how important any of these responsibilities may be in your life, they are still distractions from studying, and it is essential to admit this honestly. Outside responsibilities will slow you down and will make it impossible for you to compare yourself and your plans with others who are studying full-time. 

That said, it is possible to balance the 'rest of life' with studying—just be honest about what is possible so you don't set yourself up for heartache and failure. Arrange your schedule to push yourself as hard as reasonably possible—no more, no less.

The other important thing that has to be taken into account is your starting point. The further away you are from your desired score on the actual exam, the more time you will have to allot for exam preparation. There is no way around this. If your clinical and communication skills are weak, it's going to take significant effort to improve your score, and you will likely require more time to build your knowledge base. 

As you set up your timeline, be as realistic as possible about the distance between your starting point and goal, and remember that ultimately you can and should strive only for the best you can do within a given timeframe.

Think in Terms of Hours

Although specific OSCE study schedules need to be made for each individual, we generally recommend that the average student studies about 500-600 total hours for the OSCE. This may sound like a lot, so let me give you some perspective. 

For most people, the clinical years of medical school will comprise about 35 hours per week of combined class and lab time for about 45 weeks of the year. This amounts to 3,150 hours spent on your studies at least. If you include the amount of time spent studying for exams, I would estimate conservatively that it took you about 5,000 hours to learn the material presented to you in the clinical years. When you look at it this way, you can see how reasonable it is to study for about 10% of that time for a comprehensive exam on that same material. 

As a general recommendation, we believe that most students should study for 6-8 weeks for a minimum of 10 hours a day. A quick calculation will show you this brings you to 560 hours of study. The 56-day sample schedule below was made based on the above assumptions.

The timeline should be scheduled so that subjects requiring comprehension are emphasized early on, while those requiring memorization are scheduled closer to the actual exam date. In addition, there should be two passes through the material. This ensures repetition, which is key to learning the material for the exam. 

If you do not have 8 weeks available for preparation, then it is essential to decrease your focus on certain subjects depending on your particular strengths/ weaknesses (if you are strong in respiratory, spend less time there, and more time on a weakness like neuro or renal). These decisions should be made based on empirical evidence from practice tests and question review. Thus, gauge your progress to show you what you need to work on to improve.

OSCE Study Resources

A quick search on Amazon will turn up hundreds of results for OSCE study resources. Since your time is limited, you want to pick the materials that will give the best bang for your buck—and stick to them! You do not want to waste time with resources that fail to cover the highest-yield material. You most certainly do not want to waste time jumping from resource to resource looking for the perfect book or Qbank without mastering any of them well enough to do well on your exam. You should determine which resource is the best for you based on your personal strengths, weaknesses and learning style.

Fewer Resources = Better Performance

It never fails. Trust me, you’re better off using fewer resources and mastering them than skimming over many resources and not knowing any of them well. 

It is true of most things in life that the people who excel the most are those who master the basics, rather than spending an enormous amount of time on minutiae with little pay off. The OSCE exam is no different. Although the exam covers a great deal of material, it is actually a pretty predictable exam. This means that most of your exam preparation time should be spent studying things you know are going to be well represented, or “hi-yield,” on the exam. 

There are a few study resources that have perfected the art of predicting what will be tested on the exam. The OSCEhome Systematic Approach ebook package is the OSCE study resources that top scorers use for OSCE preparation.

These ebooks will cover at least 90% of what you are likely to encounter on OSCE stations, and have been proven effective by thousands of test takers since 2004. 

Right about now, you're probably asking how this could be possible. The answer is that the key to OSCE success is not quantity of resources, but rather quality of resource use. 

Don't you find it difficult to find a way to ORGANIZE the OSCE Exam station in order to achieve a smooth going cooperative patient interview?... Do you forget WHAT to ask and do during your short OSCE Exam Station because of your nervousness?...  Have you thought of HOW to ask history questions and perform physical examinations correctly meeting clinical and communication guidelines?...  WHEN to ask all the REQUIRED questions, do each part of the physical examination in a time efficient sequence while communicating effectively and fulfilling the OSCE exam checklist at the same time?...   This proven TIME Efficient OSCEhome Systematic Approach is the solution you are looking for...


OSCEhome Systematic Approach flowcharts help you PUT yourself on an autopilot mode during OSCE exams enabling you to focus on the differentials, clinical decision making, and your performance.


Let us take an example. A patient presented with cough:


Introductions box: 5 sentences to say.

Chief Complaint: 10 question to ask.

HPI: 15 questions to ask.

Respiratory question box: 10 questions to ask.

Standard questions box: 14 questions to ask.

Wrap up box: Sentences for 8 points to explain.




Most of the patients’ answers will be “NO”. How long then, will it take you to ask all these questions and wrap up the case?


FIVE minutes! And you have COVERED all the guidelines and checklists.


We created similar flowcharts for the physical examination, counselling, and ER stations that, with practice, will take you just 5 minutes to perform.


ONE flow chart of 7 steps with 23 history taking and 24 physical examinations boxes to choose one depending on the case !


Don’t you agree, it is much more easier to memorize than 488+ checklists!


Rest assured that all the guidelines and checks in ANY checklist are fulfilled, including communication skills.


You won’t forget anything to ask, do, or explain. No need to anxious and nervous.

You will be on a relaxed autopilot mode! Letting you focusing on the clinical decision process and communication skills.


Don’t you agree, it is worth a try? It is yours in just few minutes.


No need to think WHAT to ask or do, HOW, or WHEN ! ... 


You need a system that does the job in 5-15 minutes! Just memorize it, practice it, and that's it! Not figuring out how!


Get it now. Click or copy paste the following link: 

Have a nice day.


Al Imari, MD.