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How Top Step 1 Resources Have Changed Over Time

  • by Erica Forrette
  • Dec 02, 2019
  • Reviewed by: Amy Rontal

We track trends among boards resources and share our new list of the most popular resources for medical students.

Here at Cram Fighter, we have a first-hand view on how the popularity of Step 1 study resources changes over time. With tens of thousands of med students using Cram Fighter every year, we have unique insights into what resources our medical student customers are adding to their USMLE and COMLEX board exam study plans.

We reported on the most popular Step 1 exam resources used by our customers in October 2017 and December 2018. Here at the end of 2019, we’ll be seeing more med students start building Step study plans for exams scheduled for the first half of 2020. In keeping with our tradition, we’re recapping the most popular resources now and tracking how their rankings have changed over time.

As of late November 2019, the top Step 1 study resources are:

top resources

First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 is still our most added resource, added by 59% of our customers for the Step 1 exam as of November 2019. However, the percentage of our customers using First Aid has actually dropped from 67% in 2018 and 2017. We know that First Aid is probably the most highly recommended resource out there, known by many as the “bible” of Step 1 prep. So why as a percent of total are fewer of our customers adding it to their study plans?

The answer is unclear, but First Aid’s decline could be evidence that some students are getting by with other textbooks or by relying solely on a lecture series. Nonetheless, after 3 years of observing our customers’ Step 1 resource trends, we see First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 is still the #1 most added Step 1 resource.

UWorld, our second most added Step 1 study resource, has climbed in popularity from being added by 41% of our customers in 2017 to 54% in 2018. But currently, UWorld is being added to about 51% of our customers’ plans, evidence that this resource isn’t going anywhere.

Meanwhile, we have seen Boards and Beyond climb significantly in popularity. In 2017, that resource was added by around 15% of our Step 1 customers. Then in 2018, Boards and Beyond jumped to being added about 45% of our customers, ranked #6 in popularity. And now, Boards and Beyond is #3 and is being added by 47% of our customers, tied with another video resource, SketchyMicro. Video learning tools have long been a popular supplementary resource for medical students, but it is intriguing to see Boards and Beyond reach the level of popularity of SketchyMicro videos, especially since SketchyMicro is typically viewed as a supplemental resource, while Boards and Beyond is more comprehensive.

While we don’t endorse a particular study resource, we do have a bird’s eye view of the raw data. Remember, the resources listed aren’t necessarily “the best” study resources, but they should be a good starting point as you start to evaluate which Step 1 study resources to study for your USMLE Step 1 exam.

To review the top study resources added by our customers for the other medical exams we support, take a look at this list. And keep an eye on our Most Popular Step 1 Resources chart over time—it could be changing again if the past two years are any indication!

About the Author

Erica Forrette is the former Director of Marketing at Cram Fighter.