USMLE Step 1 Question Banks: UWorld vs. Kaplan vs. BoardVitals (2023)

Are you preparing for your USMLE® Step 1 exam? We're constantly asked how the BoardVitals Step 1 Question Bank compares to UWorld and Kaplan, so we spoke to a few MDs to get the inside scoop.

The Step 1 exam is a one-day, 8-hour exam divided into seven 60-minute blocks. The number of questions per block varies but never exceeds 40, which would suggest that timing isn't the biggest issue, but something everyone should consider. The overall exam consists of a maximum of 280 questions and allows test-takers to answer questions independently.

There are so many different products available to students, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, how do you know what's best for you? We have a DIn-depth comparison of top USMLE Step 1 Questionnaires to consider. Check out what Kaplan, UWorld and BoardVitals have to offer.

Interested in the comparison forUSMLE Step 2CKorUSMLE step 3? Check out our other blog posts.

BoardVitals offers question banks for all types of medical examinations. These question banks are written and reviewed by doctors and experts who have recently taken the exams. This process allows users to sort questions based on highest rating, with the best questions (according to other doctors) provided first.

All question banks are subscription based and the price for USMLE Step 1 is as follows: $209 for 1 month, $279 for 3 months and $459 for 6 months. TheUSMLE Step 1 question bankconsists of approx. 3,300 questions with detailed explanations for a comprehensive understanding of each topic.

(Video) Is Kaplan QBank (NCLEX) Worth It? Compared to Hurst, UWorld, & BoardVitals

Free trial period

BoardVitals offer aFree trial periodconsisting of 25 sample questions. This is a great way to test out Qbank's features and see how questions, explanations and references are presented.

progress tracker

Each Qbank provides individual exam scores, the median score of all users, and the user's percentile rank for the questions in a test.

Feedback & Customer Service

Feedback is welcome for every question. BoardVitals has employed several doctors and this feedback loop allows users to ask questions and get additional information from these doctors. This is a great feature for students who need clarification other than what was provided in the explanation and rationale. Customer service is available 24/7 via email [[Email Protected]]and by phone [877.221.1529] during normal business hours.

BoardVitals ensures thorough review of all rich materials with features that allow professors to incorporate questions into their lectures so students are better prepared for USMLE-style questions throughout their science studies,” said Bisi Akindele, MD.


Oftentimes, board review study guides attempt to mimic the same experience as the actual exam. While the software itself isn't exactly like the real exam, the format of the questions is, and BoardVitals presents its exam blocks in either a "timed" or "review" mode. This allows users to practice the time management required in the exam. In review mode, you can see the explanation and correct answer for each question immediately after answering. In addition, this Qbank contains audio questions that are part of the exam. Correct and incorrect answer explanations are provided to cover all topics relevant to the USMLE exams.

(Video) USMLE Rx vs Amboss vs Kaplan Qbank

Additional functions

  • Users can create exams consisting of an unlimited number of questions if they wish to edit an uninterrupted series of questions. This feature is very useful when a student wants to review all the questions in a topic at once. "This is a great way to build your stamina, especially since the actual test lasts 8 hours," said Akindele.
  • The more you use Qbank, the more it learns about your strengths and weaknesses. It even suggests categories that are unique to each student.
  • Users can share a question with another student or professor for discussion. In addition, educators at institutions using BoardVitals have a Send Exam feature that allows them to send exams to students for review or assessment.
  • A user can review all questions by deleting the completed exams. This way they can easily reuse all the questions in the bank.
  • BoardVitals provides users with study tips and other great information about theirthe blog.
  • For every new customer, BoardVitals donates a vaccine to children in need as part of its philanthropic initiative:#GibVax.
  • Appaccessible.
  • The Key Concepts section provides a summary of the key teaching points tested in each question to further verify the subjects tested on the exam.

Kaplan offers question banks for several medical exams, including USMLE Step 1. Their Step 1 bank has more than3,300 questions at $199 for 3 months, $299 for 6 months, or $449 for 18 months. Compared to other offerings, Kaplan offers these affordable long-term options for those who want to start studying many months in advance. The disadvantage? If you plan to study at Qbank for a little more than a month, you still have to pay the rate for the whole year.

Free trial period

Kaplan offers a set of 100 sample questions in its 7-day free trial.

"This is a good number of questions to cover all topics and can give a good picture of how much you know in each topic," said Bisi Akindele, MD. “There is also a free diagnostic test that I took while preparing for my Level 1 exam. I used it to assess my weak subjects before I started preparing.”

progress tracker

This Qbank contains information showing individual results. This includes test analyzes and accumulated performance.

Feedback/Customer Service

(Video) Kaplan USMLE Review - Steps 1, 2 & 3 (Watch Before Buying)

Kaplan has a help link in each question for those who need additional clarification. They have a doctor available via email to flush out the medical content of the questions. Customer service can be reached by email or phone.


Kaplan presents his questions in a format to simulate the exam. It has both a "timed" and a "teacher" mode. There are detailed explanations and tips for each question. Kaplan question stems are known to be longer than standard question stems. But at the end of the day, learning the material is what counts.

Additional functions:

  • Kaplan offers various course options and combinations with textbooks and live/online courses.
  • They contain meaningful videos that cover topics of the USMLE exams.
  • There are free Step 1 live and online informational sessions.
  • Mobile app available.

UWorld specializes in providing effective question banks covering all topics of the USMLE exams. Written by practicing physicians who have excelled on the USMLE exams. UWorld's USMLE Step 1 Question Bank contains over 3,700 questions and costs $319 for 30 days, $439 for 90 days and up to $719 for 2 years, which includes two self-assessment exams. UWorld also offers practice exams to QBanks for an additional fee.

Free trial period

UWorld offers users a free 10-question sample test to test the platform and product.

progress tracker

UWorld tracks users' progress and compares individual test scores, other users' averages, and the user's cumulative performance. Each individual question also shows the percentage of people who chose each answer option.

(Video) New Favourite QBANK I Kaplan I USMLE I Logiquest

feedback and customer service

UWorld has a link to FAQs, forums for each exam, and 24/7 customer support via email.


UWorld is the most similar (of these three) to the actual exam. Calculator, laboratory values ​​and even the coloring of the program reflect the test.

Qbank also has "Timed", "Tutor" and "Timed Tutor" modes.

“USMLE World is the most used and most profitable question bank. Students should aim to complete it at least once (preferably twice) before their exam,” said Christopher Carrubba, MD, co-director of tutor development and medical education for medical school tutors. "But more questions are better! Using BoardVitals and Kaplan Question Banks can only help your score.”

Additional functions

  • UWorld has a separate biostats question bank. This is a great tool to use for step 1, 2 or 3. It contains notes on all topics with questions and detailed explanations. It covers the material expected for the exam.
  • UWorld offers two 4-block assessments (can be purchased in combination with a Question Bank or alone). These are great tools to use after completing the Question Bank to gauge how ready you are for the real test. Since the actual exam consists of 7 blocks of questions, you can combine the 2 exams for 1 exercise unit.
  • Mobile app available.

"In my opinion, tThe ratings can overestimate your readiness and aren't the best prediction for the actual test," Akindele said.

comparison at a glance

USMLE Step 1 Question Banks: UWorld vs. Kaplan vs. BoardVitals (4)
*Christopher Carrubba, MD is the Co-Director of Tutor Development and Medical Education forMed School Tutors.


Is Kaplan question bank better than UWorld? ›

In terms of straight practice material, the difference between Kaplan and UWorld is somewhat negligible, with perhaps Kaplan getting the slight advantage. We found Kaplan's practice questions to be more realistic of actual NCLEX questions, while also rating UWorld's problems explanations out higher.

Which question bank is best for USMLE Step 1? ›

USMLE World is the most used and highest yield question bank. Students should try to complete it at least once (preferably twice) before their exam,” said Christopher Carrubba, MD, co-director of tutor development and medical education for Med School Tutors.

Is Kaplan question bank good for Step 1? ›

Summary: Kaplan QBank is very similar to other QBanks for Step 1 prep. It's great for learning the material for the first time, and it covers most topics in-depth. All QBanks benefit from the “testing effect,” but they are weak on retention unless you combine them with active learning methods like Anki.

Which resource is best for USMLE Step 1? ›

USMLE Step 1 Stats
  • UWorld. 57.2.
  • Boards and Beyond. 49.0.
  • First Aid for the USMLE Step 1. 49.0.
  • SketchyMicro. 42.4.
  • SketchyPharm. 38.8.
  • Pathoma. 37.9.
  • Fundamentals of Pathology. 20.3.
  • Anki. 20.1.

Is UWorld harder than Step 1 question Bank? ›

UWorld is harder than Step for sure! The UWorld exams are harder because they have more detailed information. So make sure if you want to score well on the real thing, that you study hard and do great on these practice tests as well!

Can you pass Step 1 with UWorld only? ›

UWorld alone is not enough. You should use UWorld along with these tips to effectively prepare for Step 1: Combine UWorld with other resources, such as First Aid and NBME self-assessments. Start with a small question pool at the beginning of each topic to determine which concepts you need to focus on the most.

Which step of USMLE Is hardest? ›

This data suggests that Step 1 was the hardest exam to pass. No matter which step you are preparing for, the USMLE exams are challenging. It is important to plan your study schedule, start early, and do lots of practice questions and exams.

Is the Step 1 exam curved? ›

Note that the USMLE examination is not scored “on a curve”. Students are not scored against each other, but relative to a per-set annual standard. This standard is constant for the year. Both US medical students and IMGs are scored using the same standard.

Are all Kaplan qbank questions passing level? ›

Yes, the Qbank is all passing level questions. If I remember correctly, the goal average for the Qbank was 68% (please correct me if I'm wrong!). The goal average for the question trainers varied though - I think the first 5 was 68% and the last 2 were 72%.

Is Kaplan worth it for Step 1? ›

Kaplan notes are good but not the only source to study for USMLE. In fact, I have started feeling that they may not also be ideal to prepare for USMLE in this contemporary world.

What is a good Kaplan Q bank score? ›

The people at Kaplan Qbank boards (their official advisors, not other students) mentioned that a 65% qbank would be the minimum you want to feel "comfortable about passing", but that never really made much sense to me since the national average listed is hovering around 60% (yes, I'm sure there are a few boneheads out ...

Is board vitals good for USMLE Step 1? ›

Verdict: BoardVitals USMLE Review

In the end, our team finds the BoardVitals USMLE prep course to be a decent option to help you prepare for the USMLE. We think the course is a good fit for any candidate who is self-motivated and learns best “by doing” through practice work.

Are Kaplan books enough for Step 1? ›

Kaplan lectures and “Boards and beyond” lectures are available for all the step 1 courses. As mentioned above, for some subjects, lectures can be extremely helpful to know what is high-yield for the STEP 1 exam.

How many hours should I study for USMLE Step 1? ›

On average, USMLE Step 1 study schedule consists of at least 500-600 hours of study, which works out to 10 hours daily over 6-8 weeks. Individual students may need more, or less.

How many UWorld questions should I do a day Step 1? ›

For most students, this means getting through three blocks of 40 questions per day, 5-6 days per week. Reserving 1-2 days per week to take a UWorld self-assessment exam or NBME practice exam and review it is also important because students must get a sense of their scores.

Is USMLE Step 1 easier than UWorld? ›

Many students feel the USMLE/NBME questions are more “vague” (more on this below). However, UWorld does seem to be harder than Step 1 in one respect. One thing to note is that UWorld Step 1 seems to have more “noise” than is found in most Step 1 questions.

What percent on UWorld is passing Step 1? ›

Scoring 65% in UWorld Step 1 Qbank is considered a good average especially for anyone who has taken it for the first time. Meanwhile, having 75% and above will most likely get you a 250+ in the exam! To learn more tips to get a 250+, check out our free Step 1 Masterclass here!

How long does it take to do 40 UWorld questions? ›

On timed mode, UWorld allows 90 seconds per question (the same amount of time allowed on the Step 1 exam). Thus, a standard 40-question block will take students no longer than one hour.

Can I pass Step 1 in 3 weeks? ›

Students should still plan to block out at least four weeks of dedicated full-time studying for Step 1 to ensure that they are able to pass on their very first attempt.

How long before Step 1 should you start UWorld? ›

UWorld should be started during the first year of medical school. You should begin using UWorld as a supplemental learning tool in preparation for the basic science exams during your first year of medical school.

What percentage of people fail USMLE? ›

How Many People Fail Step 1 Every Year?
Step 1 Passing Rates20172020
IMG Fails*4,6452,230
Total Step 1 Exams42,42038,734
Overall Step 1 Pass Rate86%92%
Total Step 1 Fails6,1193,104
11 more rows

Is 3 months enough for USMLE Step 1? ›

Traditionally, students spend roughly three months studying in a dedicated fashion for Step 1. This is why we created this 99-day study schedule for the USMLE Step 1. Simply stated, if you carefully follow this study plan, you will be equipped with everything you need to score high on the exam.

What percent correct is passing USMLE? ›

Notice of such review and any adjustments will be posted on the USMLE website. The percentages of correctly answered items required to pass varies by Step and from form to form within each Step. However, examinees typically must answer approximately 60 percent of items correctly to achieve a passing score.

What is an impressive Step 1 score? ›

Generally speaking, however, a USMLE® Step 1 score between 230 and 245 is considered a good and a score between 245 and 255 is considered very good.

What percentile is 194 on Step 1? ›

Until the scoring system for Step 1 changes to Pass/Fail, the scores on Step 1 can be interpreted based on historical percentiles. While 194 represents the 5th percentile, the average (50th percentile) falls between 230 and 235.

What is the national average USMLE Step 1 score? ›

The USMLE® Step 1 passing score is 194, and the national average score is approximately 232. The USMLE® Step 2 passing score is 209, with an average score of 245.

What percentage is a 230 on Step 1? ›

A 230 on Step 1 might get you screened out by nearly 75% of programs. Many students studying for Step 1 want to keep as many doors open as possible. The median score of matched applicants in the most competitive specialties was roughly 245-250.

Is Step 1 harder pass fail? ›

As of January 2022, the USMLE Step 1 Exam shifted from being scored to a simple pass/fail grading structure. Learn more about the potential effects of the shift, including the benefits, challenges, and potential changes to the medical residency matching process.

Is USMLE Step 1 the hardest? ›

Unofficially, people have claimed USMLE Step 1 is the most difficult and important of the 3-part USMLE series. And, speaking from personal experience, Step 1 was one of the hardest things I had to do.

Is Kaplan 60% passing? ›

65 is passing, over 60 is passing, and so forth. I got 62 percent on both Trainer 6 and 7. The Kaplan book says aim for over 60. Ok..

Is Kaplan harder than actual test? ›

Kaplan Practice Scores

The general trend for Kaplan practice exams is that they are based heavily on content and may present as much more difficult than the real MCAT. Many students claim that Kaplan practice exams are not representative of the official MCAT exam.

Are Uworld questions above passing level? ›

Uworld prepares you above passing level. As you are taking the exam the only intimidation is wondering if you should have received more challenging questions. Because the hard questions won't be there....or what Uworld makes you believe is a "hard" question won't be there.

How many Kaplan books are needed for Step 1? ›

USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes 2022: 7-Book Set

The 7 volumes—Pathology, Pharmacology, Physiology, Biochemistry/Medical Genetics, Immunology/Microbiology, Anatomy, and Behavioral Science/Social Sciences—are updated annually by Kaplan's all-star expert faculty.

Is Kaplan test easier? ›

Generally, however, I have found that Kaplan's practice tests, especially Quant, are a bit harder than the actual GRE. However, do note that harder questions don't mean the questions are low quality. It simply means that your score on a Kaplan GRE practice test would be a few points lower than the actual GRE.

Is first aid enough to pass Step 1? ›

Is First Aid Enough For Step 1? First Aid does not guarantee that you can get the highest Step 1 score. You should never consider it as the only review material in the world. It just serves as a supplement on top of everything you learned in class and your textbook resources.

What percentage is passing for Kaplan? ›

The accepted passing score is 65. The test can be taken twice during each application process and must be taken at least a month apart to allow for study time.

How many questions are on the Kaplan question bank? ›

3,300+ exam-like questions. 70 hours of online, interactive videos with over 490 additional questions. Test-like Interface. In-depth answer explanations, test taking strategies, & a structured study plan keeps you on track.

How accurate are Kaplan tests? ›

Kaplan's computer-based practice tests are a dead ringer for the real thing. The look and feel of their testing program is very comparable to the official GRE platform, and the nature of the questions is indistinguishable. Additionally, Kaplan's tech does a great job of matching the adaptive features of the real GRE.

Is BoardVitals worth it? ›

Not only does it provide a complete and comprehensive program for obtaining your CME credits (accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education), but it also offers a convenient approach to earning these credits around your busy schedule.

What is a good score on BoardVitals? ›

At the end of the exam, you will see your results. Our research shows that BoardVitals users are prepared to sit for their board exams when scoring in the 65-75% range.

Will residencies still look at Step 1 scores? ›

As of January 2022, however, this will no longer be the case. USMLE Step 1 will be graded as pass/fail and will no longer be the primary determinant of one's competitiveness as a residency applicant.

How to study for Step 1 in 6 months? ›

6 months (24 weeks) until exam:

Start doing question blocks (46 questions) x 3 times a week (138 questions per week) in either the topics you've covered in class or are currently covering. Untimed. I wanted to finish the >2400 questions ~1 month before my exam so I could go over it again.

Are Kaplan books worth it? ›

They generally do a good job of covering everything you need to know without going completely overkill. These are the books that I used to get a 526 on my MCAT, and they're my favorite set all around. The Kaplan books are probably the best choice for most people.

What is the best month to take USMLE Step 1? ›

While most students take Step 1 of the Boards at the end of their second year, consider not taking the exam until you're very confident you'll pass. Ideally, take Step 1 by April.

Is 2 months enough for USMLE Step 1? ›

How long does it take to prep for each USMLE exam? Based on our experience working with international medical graduates, preparing for the Step 1 exam takes 6 to 12 months and Step 2 CK (clinical knowledge) 4 to 7 months.

Is 4 weeks enough for Step 1? ›

With a 4-week USMLE Step 1 study schedule, you will have enough time to complete a substantial study block, but as the saying goes, preparation is 90% of the outcome. Here's how you can develop a 4-week Step 1 schedule to ace your exam.

What is the best NCLEX question bank? ›

The Kaplan's question bank for NCLEX-RN includes over 2100 questions for practice which costs $99 to access for six months. In these questions are interactive answers as well as explanations with images, content refreshers, term definitions, and animations. With Kaplan, there is emphasis on different question types.

Is Kaplan harder than Uworld NCLEX? ›

Yes, Kaplan is harder than NCLEX and is a bit different, but many students have reported that it is a better and more comprehensive review. Kaplan has several different pricing packages that fit different kinds of needs that the user may have.

Is Kaplan enough for NCLEX? ›

Kaplan offers classes for every learning style, situation, and schedule. They offer an NCLEX® online course and a self-paced course. Just the different options alone make Kaplan a superior choice.

What is a good score on BoardVitals adaptive exam? ›

At the end of the exam, you will see your results. Our research shows that BoardVitals users are prepared to sit for their board exams when scoring in the 65-75% range.

What is a good qbank score UWorld? ›

What is considered a good score on UWorld? Learners with an average QBank score of 56% pass the NCLEX at a 92% rate.

Which is better UWorld or Archer? ›

Use UWorld for the rationales, diagrams/pictures and Archer for the way the questions are worded. UWorld gives a lot of information in their questions, which make it "clear" as to what they are asking. NCLEX words their questions where, sometimes, you're still not sure what they are asking.

Is Kaplan harder than UWorld? ›

After doing UWORLD step 2 and now doing Q bank for Step 2.. I can honestly say Kaplan is WAAAYYYY harder! Questions are longer, tricker, and very detailed.

What is a good percentage on Kaplan qbank? ›

The people at Kaplan Qbank boards (their official advisors, not other students) mentioned that a 65% qbank would be the minimum you want to feel "comfortable about passing", but that never really made much sense to me since the national average listed is hovering around 60% (yes, I'm sure there are a few boneheads out ...

Are Kaplan Lecture Notes enough for Step 1? ›

Kaplan lectures and “Boards and beyond” lectures are available for all the step 1 courses. As mentioned above, for some subjects, lectures can be extremely helpful to know what is high-yield for the STEP 1 exam.

What is a good score for Kaplan? ›

A minimum overall composite score of 55 must be achieved. A minimum Reading score of 64 must be achieved.
Kaplan Nursing School Entrance Exam.
Kaplan Nursing School Entrance Exam ScoresRanking Score Points
72 – 8020 points
81 +25 points
2 more rows

Is Kaplan better than Princeton? ›

Though their overall quantity of practice material and video lessons is less than Princeton Review's, Kaplan wins out with quality.


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