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Choosing the right USMLE Step 1 prep course is the most important decision you will make on your journey towards passing your exam.
You will be spending many hours studying, so it’s crucial to find the USMLE course that best fits your learning style and background. The difference between successfully passing or failing the USMLE Step 1 exam largely depends on how well your study materials prepare you for it.
Using a prep course that isn’t a good match for your learning style can cause you to score lower or even fail your exam, costing you months of study time and additional exam fees. CRUSH is here to make sure that doesn’t happen!
Here’s the good news: we have personally researched and reviewed every major USMLE Step 1 prep course on the market to make it easier for you! The comparison chart below will help you decide which online course best fits your needs.
Popular and Engaging Video Lectures: Smash USMLE founder, Dr. Adeleke Adesina, has an impressive following among medical students, who love his upbeat and straightforward video lectures and explanations. Some of his most popular videos have been watched millions of times on YouTube!
Extensive Question Bank: The Smash USMLE Question Bank includes more than 3,500 practice questions to help students prepare for the Step 1 and Step 2 CK exams. Detailed explanations help students learn why specific answers are right or wrong. The test bank can also be reset twice, and questions are reviewed regularly to ensure they are up-to-date. Practicing thousands of quality questions is a great way to raise your score on the USMLE!
Performance Feedback and Analytics: The course dashboard makes it easy to monitor your progress and evaluate your performance as you study for the USMLE exams. One glance at the pie chart shows you the percentage of videos you have watched, and software keeps track of your performance on the practice questions so that you can tailor your studies to those areas that would benefit from additional practice.
Basic, Low-Budget Videos: The streaming videos in this course may be popular and dynamic, but they are not in the same league as the professional videos created by more well-known review companies. Adesina’s accent is also somewhat difficult to understand in certain videos, although his English is very good.
The Bottom Line: Smash USMLE offers an enticing package with their high volume of practice questions and excellent analytical tools. Their video content is decent as well, although it could still use some improvement.
Help When You Need It: There is a great team of instructors that are ready and willing to help with any question you have. Of course they will not tutor you, but if you’ve missed a key concept, you may reach out and get detailed answers in 10-20 minutes.
Access: The USMLE Pass Program by Edumind includes 1 year of access. This is something that other providers have cut back on so keep an eye out when you’re comparing with other courses. It is very important to ensure you have all the time you need and so you don’t have to buy another course after yours expires.
Entertaining Lectures: Francis is a teacher that knows how to motivate students. His classes will actually keep you engaged and even excited at times.
Not Too Long Or Too Short: Lessons pacing is ideal, not too little, not too long. This ensures you get just enough information but overwhelmed.
The Bottom Line: The USMLE prep course created by Pass Program has been tailored to meet the needs of students by being engaging and informative. Lessons aren’t too long or too short, and the instructors are helpful and entertaining.
Large Question Bank and Video Collection: Kaplan Medical’s USMLE Step 1 course give students access to a large number of exam-like questions in a Qbank and include an extensive video library with 2,000+ questions. Cut hours off of your review time by watching videos at 1.5x their regular speed. The high-quality videos are informative and entertaining, making the large body of material less daunting.
Diagnostic Exams, Quizzes, and Practice Exams: There are many opportunities for students to test themselves on the knowledge they must master before they sit for the exam. Diagnostic tests, shorter quizzes and full-length simulated exams give students practice and targeted feedback on their ability and performance.
Mobile Friendly: All lectures can be viewed from your iPhone an Android device, making it easy to get your study hours in, no matter where you are located. The Step 1 Qbank includes a free app for you to work on practice questions and check answers as well.
International Student Friendly: Kaplan Medical has first-rate options for International Students who are preparing to apply for a residency program in the USA. Live, Live Online and On Demand options are supplemented by immersive In Center learning opportunities and study centers with state-of-the-art facilities, computers, internet access, and helpful staff to answer questions.
The Bottom Line: In addition to their vast library of practice questions, video content, and simulated exams, Kaplan offers a more convenient USMLE test prep experience with their full mobile compatibility.
Exam-Like Practice Tests: A timer helps students keep track of their progress on each question and the overall exam. You can move back and forth among questions, which are designed to match the difficulty level of the questions on the actual exam. You can also choose between the Timed Mode and the Review Mode when answering practice questions or taking a practice exam.
Large Question Bank with Explanations: Detailed explanations and answers for every single practice question form the core of this prep program. You’ll have access to 1,500 board review questions to prepare for the USMLE Step 1 exam. Questions are written and reviewed by practicing physicians, medical faculty, or come from 3 leading medical publishers.
Adaptive Learning Technology: You’ll get individualized question recommendations based on your performance. After you’ve answered practice questions and taken a practice test, you can compare your performance to that of other students. Your performance allows the program to suggest specific practice questions for additional study, so that you can focus on those areas that will benefit most from review.
Great Price: For the quality of the material, you can’t beat the price. Priced between $79-$199 for up to 6 months of access, this course is a bargain and could easily be combined with other study materials. The pass guarantee makes this offer even better: Board Vitals offers free extended subscriptions to your course if you do not pass the exam for which you are studying.
The Bottom Line: BoardVitals has a great USMLE prep course that contains realistic test simulations and is backed by effective adaptive learning technology. Best of all is that these features come at a very low price.
Study Schedules Included: Lecturio provides a comprehensive USMLE course that is customizable to an extent. Best of all they include step-by-step study schedules optimized to ensure you stay focused and learn everything you need to succeed.
First Aid Match: The Lecturio Bookmatcher offers the fastest way for you to find relevant video lectures for topics in your First Aid® textbook. Simply entering the page number of your First Aid® for the USMLE Step 1 or by scanning the relevant page with a smartphone, you are instantly guided to all applicable videos for your current topics.
Adaptive Learning: Memorize key USMLE information faster with the Lecturio adaptive algorithm that tells you exactly when and what you need to repeat to score higher. Their system also allows you to stay on track with regular notifications for questions due.
Integration Issues: Lecturio’s learning components and features ar essentially separated, which means you’ll likely be devoting nearly all your time to navigating Lecturio. If you’re short on time, you may want to look elsewhere. The only other con is the discussion of test taking strategies leading up to test day and on test day. The strategies discussed don’t necessarily apply to all tests (namely, they do not apply to taking the USMLE Step 1 in the USA). Take this lecture with a grain of salt and always verify with your test center what their protocols and rules are.
The Bottom Line: Lecturio’s USMLE study materials are a solid option with adaptive learning tech, a mobile app and thousands of Qbank questions at an affordable price. Better yet you can start with their monthly plan for less than $50!
Live Online Classes: Becker’s live online classes show expert medical faculty explaining concepts in real time in the evenings and weekends. This is a solid solution if you can’t attend a traditional classroom course but need more structure than a self-study course, but you’re going to overpay for this offering. You’ll get 275 hours of instruction, including integrated cases, and you’ll also get access to eCoach for 9 months, in addition to the large question bank.
Large, Highly-Rated Question Bank: The Step 1 Qbank contains more than 2,000 exam-like questions that are frequently updated in accordance with the latest exams. Students report that the questions are on par with other highly-rated question banks offered by competitors. The low price makes it worth purchasing the question bank alone as a supplement if you choose not to buy the entire course.
Guarantee: It’s hard to not mention the lack of a real guarantee for passing the USMLE—with the amount you’re paying for this course, they should basically hold your hand through the certification process and throw a little party for you once you pass. Instead, you have to jump through hoops and even if you qualify, the refund isn’t sufficient given what you originally paid.
Price: This course is priced way out of many people’s range—it’s almost absurd how expensive the course is, given that there are much better (and cheaper) options out there. I wouldn’t recommend this solution for anyone, as it’s way overpriced and something that will throw you into debt without guaranteeing that you’ll pass the exam.
The Bottom Line: Students looking for a high-quality USMLE course that is conducted live online will appreciate what Becker has to offer. Unfortunately, their high price and lack of any guarantee may be cause for concern.
Extensive Question Bank: UWorld’s Step 1 question bank includes more than 2,200 practice questions. It’s an excellent learning tool with frequently updated questions. All of the questions also come with detailed explanations, and students can compare their performance to other UWorld users to see how they measure up.
Self-Assessment Exams: Created by physicians, the self-assessment exams closely resemble the format of the Step 1 exam and consist of 4 blocks of 46 multiple-choice questions. Although the USMLE exam contains 7 blocks, completing several of UWorld’s self-assessments will give you an idea of your strengths and weaknesses. Each assessment comes with a detailed analysis and an approximate 3-digit score.
Free Mobile App: The convenience of a free mobile app is always a popular feature with students. Practice questions from UWorld’s extensive Qbank can be accessed from smartphones and tablets whenever you have a few minutes to spare. The app is compatible with iOs and Android and your progress is synced to a central database, so you can move seamlessly between devices while you study.
No Video Lectures or Additional Materials: This course does not include video lectures or additional review materials to help you go over the material in a more structured way. UWorld’s approach to studying consists of practice questions, self-assessments, and the feedback generated from your performance on these tasks.
The Bottom Line: Unless video content is a must-have, students will appreciate what UWorld has to offer in their USMLE Step 1 prep course. Expect lots of practice questions, self-assessments, and a handy mobile app.