USMLE Step 1 Study Resources Roundup – Question Banks

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • A discussion of the importance of Qbanks, with a recap of 4 Qbanks you could consider incorporating into your Step 1 study plan.

    Question Banks are undoubtedly an important component of your study plan for the USMLE Step 1. One of the reasons why Qbanks are so important, is because the way that you retain information is by being tested on it. Qbanks allow you to experience thousands of questions similar to those that appear on the actual exam, so you learn as you answer questions. Many agree that learning through questions is one of the most effective and efficient ways to build and test your knowledge.

    Should You Use More Than One Qbank?

    Two schools of thought exist on using multiple Qbanks. One claims that you learn better by going through 1 set of questions more than once (this could consist of over 2000 questions!) The other argues that you get better at anticipating different types of questions (and therefore the questions on the test itself) by using different question banks. There’s a lot of advice coming from both sides, and we can’t recommend which strategy is best for you, but for informational purposes – approximately 25% of Cram Fighter subscribers use more than one Qbank.

    What Question Banks Should You Use?

    One of the most popular, if not the most popular, Qbanks is USMLE World, also known as UWorld or UW. This Qbank is considered to have questions as close to the “real thing” as possible. The 2,400 questions in UWorld have been written by practicing physicians with deep clinical knowledge. The questions are conceptual, focus on high-yield topics, and require multistep critical thinking – so they are a great way to test that you are making the connections between your learned knowledge and new clinical scenarios. UWorld is used by over 90% of med students taking the board exams, and has earned an excellent reputation over the years as “THE” Qbank to use. UWorld is actually the second-most popular of all resources used by Cram Fighter customers (after the First Aid for the USMLE book), with 56% of our subscribers incorporating it into their Step 1 study plans.

    UWorld is available on a subscription basis at their website.

    USMLE-Rx is another popular Qbank. Many people like to use it because it is integrated with First Aid. This Qbank exists to help you learn and recall the content in First Aid. With 2,300 questions, USMLE-Rx lets you customize self-assessments and create tests by difficulty level. In addition, the USMLE-Rx site states that its Qmax interface is a faithful simulation of the NBME’s FREDv2 interface, which will help you to get more comfortable when taking the actual Step 1 exam.

    USMLE-Rx is available either as a standalone Qbank, or as a part of a bundle with extra flashcards and videos, at the First Aid/USMLE-Rx website.

    Still another popular Qbank is the Kaplan Qbank. Kaplan is a well-known provider of test prep services in many educational fields. They continue to refine and update their product. Currently their Qbank consists of 2100 questions, including 100 new patient safety questions and 300 questions added. They redesigned their user interface in February 2016 and added features such as individual progress reports. Reviews around the internet for the Kaplan Qbank claim its questions are very, very detailed.

    The Kaplan Qbank is available on a subscription basis at their website.

    Finally, a somewhat new entrant to the field of Qbanks for the USMLE Step 1 is Pastest. Pastest’s Qbank features over 2300 questions, written by expert physicians and students from leading US medical schools. Pastest helps students prepare efficiently by using a personalized Performance Dashboard which shows how they’ve improved so far and highlights specialties that need more work.

    The Pastest USMLE Step 1 Qbank is available for FREE to Cram Fighter users and readers for 12 months at

    In Summary

    Which Qbank is right for you? This post only highlights a few of the available resources available. We recommend you get input from your advisors and peers, and ask M3 and M4 upperclassmen at your school for advice, then figure out your style of learning and which one will suit you best. You may also wish to consider our list of popular resources to see which Qbanks are being used most by Cram Fighter subscribers. All of the Qbanks we noted in this blog post are supported resources within Cram Fighter, so you can easily incorporate them into your own USMLE Step 1 study plan. Good luck!

    About the Author

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