The Best USMLE Step 1 Question Banks

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When it comes to how to study for Step 1, you want to make sure you’re preparing yourself right. That means setting up your own USMLE Step 1 preparation plan and learning about the questions and topics you should be studying. One of the easiest ways that you can study is to use the best Step 1 question bank, but you need to know which ones those are.

We’re going to take a closer look at the best Step 1 question banks and just what you can do with them. We’ll evaluate our favorites as well as a couple of runner up options and even some if you don’t have a lot of money to invest. So, take a look at the best options for anyone here, and then check out some FAQs that might help you along the way.

Our Favorites for the Best USMLE Step 1 Question Banks


You will get some great content through BoardVitals USMLE Step 1 question bank because it’s actually written by doctors and other experts within the field. That means you know you’re getting your advice from people with real, firsthand experience with the exam. You’ll also have some great support in the way of the service team, in case you ever do have problems with the way the program works. The customer service team is there by phone or email 24/7.

What you will find with this system, however, is that it doesn’t have as many questions as some of the other question banks (though you can create your own exams to practice with). It also tends to be a little more challenging to access because you can only get to it through a standard computer. There is no mobile app or a true mobile version of the system. This can be a bit more difficult for some individuals to use, especially if you need to practice on the go.

What Makes this USMLE Step 1 Question Bank Unique:

  • Questions are written by professionals in the field
  • 24/7 support team via email/phone


Possibly the most popular options available for USMLE Step 1, UWorld question bank offers over 2,400 questions, which makes it one of the highest volume options. Not only that, but it provides compatibility with just about any type of device you want to use, including nearly any tablets and smartphones. That way, you can study no matter where you happen to be or when you find the time. You’ll learn how to use UWorld effectively on your service by simply working your way through the questions, typically during your second year.

You’ll also like the fact that this question bank actually offers a more realistic simulation of the exam-taking experience. When you’re reviewing the questions, they’re actually more like the ones that are going to be on the test, but it can take a lot of time to go through, and it’s going to cost a little more than some of the other question banks available. You’ll want to compare this to the other options we have here.

What Makes it Great:

  • 2,400 questions make it one of the biggest banks
  • Most realistic experience to taking the test


The NBME system is one of the best-known practice assessments available. It’s actually more of a series of self-assessments than a bank of questions, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get less out of it. In fact, you may just get more. It offers assessments for every step of the USMLE and also has a mastery series to make sure you understand the clinical and medical aspects of the test.

You actually get feedback for any questions that you answer incorrectly, so you not only know where you’re making mistakes but actually why the answer is something else. This can help you to prepare for the next time around. It also helps you to prepare well for the final test, and some believe it’s a great predictor of how you’ll do when you actually take the exam.

What Makes this USMLE Step 1 Question Bank Unique:

  • Feedback provided for incorrect answers
  • Self-assessment style format and testing

The Runner-Ups for the Best USMLE Step 1 Question Banks


You won’t find just a question bank with this option. You’re actually going to get a lot of questions, but also videos and flashcards. Not only that, but it’s actually integrated with the First Aid system, which gives you a little more variety to study from as well. Add on the fact that you can search for more information based on each of the flashcards, videos, or questions, and you’re definitely going to be on the right path for learning.

You’ll have access to approximately 2,300 questions as well as a mobile app that lets you learn on the go. This question bank isn’t quite designed to teach the thought process behind your medical knowledge, but to quiz you directly on the material. It is primarily focused on First Aid, however, so you won’t get as much variety of information.

What Makes this USMLE Step 1 Question Bank Unique:

  • Varied format of review materials
  • Questions linked to study content

The Value Picks for the Best USMLE Step 1 Question Banks

Kaplan Medical

Here, with Kaplan USMLE Step 1, you’ll find some great pricing, which is one of the first features that you’ll like about Kaplan Medical. The pricing structure is actually based on how long you would like access, and you can get it for as little as $20 per month. You’ll get a straightforward interface, which makes it great even for those who aren’t as comfortable with advanced simulations.

The Kaplan question bank makes it simple to find each of the different aspects of your practice, including any progress reports you may have and even the simulations for tests. This makes it easier for you to study and easier to get into what you want when you have limited time. On the downside, you will have more focus on some areas of the exam than others with question coverage.

What Makes this USMLE Step 1 Question Bank Unique:

  • Low price point compared to other models
  • Easy to use system for finding what you need

FAQ for the Best USMLE Step 1 Question Banks

Next, let’s take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions about the USMLE and the question banks that we’ve already talked about. That way, you can make the right decisions about just what works for you.

Which USMLE Step 1 Question Bank Offers the Best Free Trial?

When it comes to offering free trials, you’re actually going to get the best out of Kaplan. They offer you a full 100 questions that you can check out entirely for free, which will definitely give you a good overview of what you can expect from the rest of the program. You’ll also have access to a completely free diagnostic test so you can get a little better understanding of your own skills while you’re at it too.

What Should You Look for in Customer Service for Your Step 1 Question Bank Provider?

When it comes to customer service, you want to make sure that you can get in touch with someone at any time. You’re going to be studying for your Step 1 exam around everything else that’s going on in your life, including school and family. You want to be able to get into the system whenever it’s convenient for you, and if you can’t, you need to be able to get in touch with customer service quickly. That means you want a customer service that is not only available 24/7, but actually available by phone or chat and genuinely responsive during those times.

What are the Hardest USMLE Step 1 Question Banks?

When it comes to choosing your question bank, you’re definitely going to want to look at UWorld and BoardVitals. These are questions written by professionals, and they’re going to test your knowledge on the subjects. They’re definitely going to be harder than some of the other options, and they’re going to push your understanding.

Should You Prioritize Your USMLE Step 1 Question Bank Being Available on a Mobile App?

When it comes to your studying, you’re probably going to be doing it everywhere, right? If you have a job, you want to be able to study on breaks. If you’re just focusing on your school, you’ll want to study between classes. You also may have a commute by bus or train where you want to be able to study. That makes it very important that your study materials are available on a mobile device. Do you want to set up your computer in the backroom of your work for a 15-minute break? Or pull out your laptop on the train to study with? It’s going to be a lot easier if you can just pull out your phone or tablet.

Summary of the Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Books

Kaplan USMLE Step 1

Kaplan has some great question banks available through their online system and customizable tests as well, but when it comes to books, they definitely know what they’re doing. This book is actually a series of 7 sets of lecture notes. It’s considered true lecture material as well, so you’re going to go over all of the different categories you should need when it comes to taking the test.

These books are designed to offer charts, diagrams, and summary guides as well as flow charts and more to help you not only understand the material but also understand how it correlates into the field. Overall, you’ll have a total of 2,600 pages of content to go over, but this guide can be a little expensive for some. Not only that, but it can be a little intense for those who want a more straightforward study method.

What Makes this USMLE Step 1 Prep Book Unique:

  • In-depth content for many subjects
  • Provides charts, diagrams and study guides to make retention easier

Why Choose this Book:

  • Covers 7 different lectures in one series
  • Company provides a range of different study materials

On Sale
USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes 2020: 7-Book Set
  • Kaplan Medical (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 2624 Pages - 12/03/2019 (Publication Date) - Kaplan Medical Test Prep (Publisher)

Last update: 2024-07-19

First Aid for the USMLE Step 1

This is one of the most popular books available for studying the USMLE, and it covers over 1,300 different concepts, which means you’re going to get a very comprehensive guide. You’re also going to have updates that are relevant for the current year (this book is updated frequently) and photos and illustrations that make it easier to follow allow and internalize the information that is being presented.

The latest version is always co-authored by a student who took the previous USMLE and therefore has the inside information on everything you need to know. It also has a review that allows you to connect the data from one topic to the next, which makes it easier to remember the information. Also, it’s designed to be creative, so it’s more interesting to read. It’s a little less voluminous than some other texts, but still covers a lot of material.

What Makes this USMLE Step 1 Prep Book Unique:

  • Offers versatility in presentation including diagrams and images
  • Updated yearly with the latest information

Why Choose this Book:

  • Covers nearly all of the content from the exams
  • Inexpensive price point that fits most student budgets

First Aid For the USMLE Step 1 2020, Thirtieth Edition
  • Le, Tao (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 832 Pages - 01/02/2020 (Publication Date) - McGraw Hill / Medical (Publisher)

Last update: 2024-07-18

By the way, we have an entire post on the best USMLE Step 1 prep books here in case you prefer more old-school resources.

USMLE Step 1 Secrets

This is actually a lesser-known book but definitely is popular among those students who have found and used it. You get clinical context to the information that you’re going to be studying in your courses as well as through your other study materials. On top of that, you’re going to have case scenarios, questions, and short answers that will help you prepare for the style of the USMLE Step 1 exam.

Designed to be easy to read and to target only the most essential information, this book offers images, secrets, and tips that come directly from those who have taken the exam itself. This book isn’t designed to be a standalone resource or to be the only book that you use. Instead, it’s meant to be a supplement that can give you a little more support and assistance along the way.

What Makes this USMLE Step 1 Prep Book Unique:

  • Helps to supplement other textbooks and study guides
  • Provides information from students who have taken the exam

Why Choose this Book:

  • Teaches ways to understand clinical context
  • Offers vital information in targeted ways through tables, summaries, and figures

On Sale
USMLE Step 1 Secrets
  • Brown MD, Thomas A. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 898 Pages - 09/06/2012 (Publication Date) - Saunders (Publisher)

Last update: 2024-07-18

Wrapping Things Up: The Best USMLE Step 1 Question Banks

Product Number Of Pages
USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes 2019: 7-Book Set (Kaplan Test Prep) 2624
First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2019, Twenty-ninth edition 832
USMLE Step 1 Secrets 898

When it comes down to it, starting with the right question banks is going to be the right way to go. You want to make sure you’re prepared for your exam, and if you start with UWorld and NMBE, you’re definitely going to get there faster. These apps are going to give you the best quality and volume of questions as well as the more variety. On top of these, make sure you have a mobile app and truly attentive customer service, not to mention a couple of books, and you’ll get on fine.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll probably like our other USMLE Step 1 content:

> How to Study for Step 1: The Ultimate Guide

> When to Take Step 1: The Ultimate Guide

> Average USMLE Step 1 Scores: What is Good?

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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