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 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.
Some of the links on this chart are affiliate links, meaning I get small commission (used to fund this website) when you purchase by clicking through. Don’t worry though, by using the USMLE promo codes and USMLE review course discounts you’ll get the best possible deal.
USMLE Step 1 Course Comparisons & Discounts
|USMLE Step 1|
|COMPANY||Smash USMLE||Kaplan USMLE||Board Vitals||GraduateX USMLE||Becker USMLE|
GET COUPON CODE
|FULL-LENGTH PRACTICE EXAMS|
|VIDEO LECTURES||250 Hours||200 Hours||200 Hours|
|FREE SMARTPHONE APP|
|STUDENT SUPPORT||Instructor Email Support||Instructor Email Support||Instructor Email Support||Email Support||Email Support|
|ONLINE ACCESS PERIOD||12 Months||3 Months||6 Months||12 Months||12 Months|
|READ MY FULL|
|Read Full Review||Read Full Review||Read Full Review||Read Full Review||Read Full Review|
|GET STARTED||Start Now||Start Now||Start Now||Start Now||Start Now|
2017 USMLE Step 1 Training Course Rankings
1. Smash USMLE
2. Kaplan USMLE Step 1
3. Board Vitals USMLE
4. GraduateX USMLE Step 1
5. Becker USMLE Review
6. UWorld Step 1
Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Courses
|Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Courses||Practice Questions||Price|
|Doctors In Training||1,020||$825|
|U World Step 1||2,200||$429|
You will be spending many hours studying, so it’s crucial to find the NCLEX course that best fits your learning style and background.
So here’s the good news – we have researched and reviewed all the NCLEX prep courses on the market so you don’t have to!
The comparison chart below will help you determine which course best fits your needs.
Best NCLEX Prep Courses
|NCLEX COURSE||GraduateX||Kaplan NCLEX||BoardVitals|
|DISCOUNTS||Save $57.80||Save $110||Get 10% Off|
|12 Months||3 Months||6 Months|
|GET STARTED||START NOW||START NOW||START NOW|
1. GraduateX NCLEX
2. Kaplan NCLEX
3. Board Vitals NCLEX
USMLE Step 1 Study Tips
Because your time is so limited, we want to give you a short, direct informative guide to help you succeed and achieve the USMLE Step 1 score you have aimed for. Don’t panic, we have laid out all you need to know below.
USMLE wants you to see medicine differently, make it practical.
Firstly, you should know that USMLE will not test your memory, but your ability to apply basic sciences knowledge in a clinical scenario (vignettes). That means that questions will not sound like:
“What drug class does scopolamine belong to?”, but rather:
“Scopolamine is prescribed as a transdermal patch for a patient leaving for a cruise vacation. Which comorbidity would be a contraindication?”
That means that USMLE questions are not direct (first-order) ones, but rather second or third order questions, in this case: A drug commonly prescribed for motion sickness (cruise trip), but is contraindicated in closed-angle glaucoma.
Or let us put it another way:
“Which receptor will cause the side effects of this medication on patients with glaucoma?”
You will get the hold of this as you go, without a doubt.
Your score should be aimed according to your specialty.
Like in any country, some specialties are particularly more competitive in the United States. Numbers do change from year to year, but there seems to a be pattern to Radiology, Dermatology and Plastic Surgery always requiring higher scores, starting from 240. Other specialties such as Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Physical Medicine require scores starting from 220, roughly. The average score in the United States is of 220. So if you haven’t decided which specialty to go, we recommend you to aim for 240. If you have, on the other hand, get the latest information on the average matching score.
Anxiety is a part of the deal, but let’s put things into perspective.
Secondly, feeling overwhelmed is a commonly exacerbated symptom amongst students taking the USMLE, therefore, here is a formula we can’t recommend enough:
2 months of Video Lectures from a Prep Course of your choice with Review books +
Question bank of your choice (do it 2-3 times) +
Parallel to the first two: Read First Aid Step 1 at least three times, taking notes.
The last month before the exam you will be working a lot, mostly with your notes and with First Aid, basically, this formula prepares you for that period.
Pacing your study and following CRUSH’s simple rules is a time-saver.
Thirdly, let’s us lay out five golden rules when it comes to your study schedule:
- Start from the subject you are less comfortable with (Biochemistry, for example);
- Study 50 minutes, rest 10. Or if you prefer, 1 hour 40 minutes, and rest 20 minutes. Those cycles should be repeat four times. You can have two blocks or four cycles each like that a day.
- Resting is crucial. Take one day off from studying weekly: forget about the exam, do other things you also enjoy, even if while doing them you can’t help but diagnose everyone around you now.
- Before exam, do at least 4 full-length exams with timing before your USMLE exam date. This will help you fight away that anxiety like a ninja, you are very prone to succeed if you are acquainted with the real exam conditions.
- When doing a question bank, take notes on every question, write down the concepts, make diagrams.
The Prep Course should fit your needs.
Additionally, an imperative part of your success is knowing which USMLE Step 1 prep course works for you. CRUSH team has tested and set them out for you, not to mention the discounts you can get through our website.
- First scenario: If you are still a medical student, you might be running out of time between classes and finals, so you need both mobile access, as well as extended subscription time, in that case we recommend Smash USMLE: you can get it for a whole year, watch 250 hours of video lectures and download a free smartphone app. Another great learning venue would be Becker, since it offers a very similar deal!
- Second scenario: If you are an international medical graduate, for example, and are no longer in medical school, you might have more time to concentrate on your exam alone and more intensively, so Kaplan USMLE might be the choice for you, with a 3-month subscription.
- Third scenario: if money is tight, but you still want to make the best out of your test preparation, we highly recommend Board Vitals and GraduateX. Moreover, we offer discounts on them, as well!
Ultimately, you can test all demo versions of the five prep courses we mentioned and test drive yourself.
Books, books, books…
A great amount of students will go online and read about all the prep books and be convinced they need all of them. Remember, you can’t read Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine or Gray’s Anatomy before your exam. That’s ground learning, that’s past you, we are focusing on reviewing now (even if you have studied abroad in another language!). So before thinking books, make sure they are review books with high-yield information — principles you are very likely to see in your exam.
Like all great works, USMLE is full of classic questions, and people who write review books know that. They have done the work for you. There will most certainly be a question about a farmer with organophosphates poisoning, the flushing side effects of atropine-like drugs, or say, if it’s a genetic condition, USMLE Step 1 will always present it with the classic patient and his/her origin, for example, sickle cell anemia is commonly seen in children. USMLE won’t test you for the exceptions, but rather with the most common drugs, side effects, presentations, causes. As said, it is a classic.
We, at CRUSH, it seems, have reached a consensus that there are roughly three strategies to decide which are the best USMLE Step 1 review books for you:
- Buy a complete series. By doing this, you can be sure that all the material is covered and that it won’t repeat itself. Also, the repeating design, writing style is also a big plus.
- Buy the best book for one subject from different series. You might need a little more time doing research, but if you feel comfortable with different books from different series, then this is a good way to go.
- You might find out that Kaplan’s books are great, but you’re just not ready to replace Pathoma and Microbiology Made Ridiculously Easy for their respectives in the series.
We don’t recommend you to buy two or more books on one subject. You should believe us when we say: All the material you need will, one way or another, be covered either in your review books, question bank or First Aid.
No matter which one of the above you go for, remember: buying the latest edition of First Aid Step 1 will ensure your being on top of the newest mnemonics and high-yield facts.
First Aid Step 1 is not an addition to your review books, it is simply a must-have. You might want to bind it to make it easier to read, as well.
Making mistakes in the question bank is also learning.
You don’t have to feel demotivated if you miss a lot of questions while doing your question bank. The question bank is a learning tool, so are the mistakes you will make. You have to relate to the question bank as an online book: it’s a perfect place to make use of trial-error, and do not feel as if you’re not improving if you do miss questions. So to access your progress after the first round of questions would be very demotivating! It is recommended to do a question bank fully two to three times.
USMLE Step 1 Study Tips
Understand your brain and the way it learns better, use this in your favor.
The 1-3 rule. You’re a doctor to be, so use that knowledge in your favor: Your brain has a learning schedule, so work around it. Take into account that the adult brain needs to reencounter a material around 48 hours after the first time you were introduced to it. So how can you apply this? Solve a test block, for example, say, of 40 questions per block. If you solved it today, make mistakes, read the explanations for the question in the test bank and move on. Two days later make notes from this exam. Long story short: you need to be introduce to the information on day 1, and reencounter it on day 3. Before your test, you can freely review these notes.
Note taking: go old school. There is no best way to take notes, if you’ve been to medical school, you have by this time found out the method that best works for you. A lot of people prefer to type, instead of writing, but if you are a medical student you do know that by writing you do remember more by using different parts of your cortex, rather than just typing. It also goes without saying that you would spend a lot of more time inserting symbols (arrows, for instance) into your notes than if you simply wrote them down in form of a scheme in a notebook.
The Feynman method. A lot of students struggle without a study partner, in our opinion, even though this is a great we-are-on-the-same-boat strategy, we have another solution for those who prefer to work on their own time, or simply on their own. Another great strategy to optimize your learning is by becoming a proud adept of the Feynman Study Technique. It is based on using different parts of your brain to quickly retain information and works in simple four steps: First, pick a topic, read about it; second, pretend to teach yourself out loud (this is very important!); third, if you get stuck during the explanation: revisit the book; and fourth, repeat the process using analogies, simple language and connecting facts. So, keep in mind, a study partner is great, but here’s a simple (and effective) solution.
USMLE Step 1 Mock Exams
The mock exam is your best score predictor.
We all need a little motivation, so the best way to assess your USMLE Step 1 score is by taking mock exams. They look just like the test itself. Turn off your phone, and get ready for an eight-hour task. After that, do something relaxing: go binge watch your favorite show, go out dancing, have a cup of coffee with your friends, shift your mind from the test prep and the next day you will be fresh as new!
Plan, plan, plan, when nothing else: plan.
If you’re very insecure about whether you are ready or not to schedule your test, get an organizer and write the amount of work you need to get done everyday, item by item, and see how much time you actually need. You can do a check-list if you like the concept better. If you feel like that is not enough, here is a little insider’s trick that seems to work: say, by the time you have completed 10, 20, X number of items from your USMLE Step 1 prep to-do list or check list, you give yourself a little reward. Remember that nice bag you had seen the other day? Or, say, a boat ride, bike rent, a pair of nice shoes (dress for your future job, right?), or even a tattoo. Have yourself a merry little holiday! You can actually put these rewards into the list and as you complete your milestones, go out there and get what’s yours.
Take-home message: life-long learning is part of being a doctor.
Lastly, remember: your USMLE Step 1 preparation isn’t supposed to be a burden! Take one thing at a time and you will find out that by the end of this experience you have made nothing but a better doctor out of yourself. When you started medical school, for example, by the time you’ve finished it, you will see guidelines changing, new drugs appearing, others becoming obsolete, and you need to adapt to those innovations all the time, life-long. Keep being curious, keen and hard-working — the more positively you relate to your studying experience, the more positive the outcome will be.
Finding the right MCAT prep course is one of the most important steps on the way to becoming a Doctor. You’ll be spending countless hours studying so it’s crucial that you find the course that fits your unique learning style best.
That’s why we have detailed comparison tables are below to help you pick the best MCAT prep course to go with. Here you can compare MCAT practice exams, flashcards, video lectures and more. This is all here to help you pass. If you have questions or comments feel free to leave them in the comment section below.
Some of the links on this chart are affiliate links, meaning I get small commission (used to fund this website) when you purchase by clicking through. Don’t worry though, by using the MCAT promo codes and MCAT review course discounts you’ll get the best possible deal.
Best 2017 MCAT Prep Courses
|COMPANY||Kaplan MCAT||The Princeton Review MCAT||Magoosh MCAT|
|COURSE FORMATS||Online Self-Study, Live Online||Online Self-Study, Live Online||Online Self-Study|
|FULL-LENGTH PRACTICE EXAMS||13||13||3|
|VIDEO LECTURE HOURS||100||525||300|
|NEWEST AAMC MATERIALS|
|COURSE EXPIRATION||Until You Pass||270 Days||12 Months|
|GET STARTED||START NOW||START NOW||START NOW|
1. Kaplan MCAT Test Prep
MCAT Channel: Kaplan’s MCAT Channel gives students access to live lectures from 1st-rate, experienced MCAT teachers 6 days a week in addition to on demand, pre-recorded content that is available 24/7. Best of all recorded episodes can searched by interests, study needs, or even your favorite professor!
Wide Range of Course Options: Kaplan provides students different options to prepare for the MCAT above and beyond the competition. This makes it more convenient for you for studying anywhere. Choose from in-person classes, a live online course, an on-demand self-paced class, an intense 6-week summer live session in any of the 4 cities across the USA. Live and live online private tutoring options are also available.
Higher Score Guarantee: Kaplan’s courses come with a guarantee we all can believe in. If your score doesn’t go up, you can do the same program again at no extra charge, or (the best part) you can ask for your money back. You can study up until the very day of your exam with Kaplan’s course materials, which do not expire until you take the MCAT.
2. The Princeton Review MCAT
Self-Paced, Online, Live and Tutoring Options: Students can choose from a different number of course options that will appeal to virtually every type of learner from visual, auditory and more. Whether you want to learn from the comfort of your own home, attend a live, in person class, or spend six weeks in the summer at an intense workshop, The Princeton Review has a course for you.
Quality and Quantity of Study Material: No matter which course they choose, students will benefit from an impressive number of practice questions, practice tests, online material, videos, and proprietary learning software (amplifire learning tool). The Princeton Review also stands by the quality of its instruction by offering satisfaction and money back guarantees.
No Free Trial or Flashcards: Many students like to try a review course out to see if it is compatible with their learning style, or to compare it to other options. The Princeton Review invites students to take a free online test and attend a free workshop, but trying out the actual materials requires purchasing a course.
TAKE ME TO PRINCETON REVIEW MCAT
3. Magoosh MCAT
Visuals: When it comes to study guides, this package provides you with in-depth explanations and advice like other products, but it also has an amazing visual representation of many concepts. With full color visuals on every page, you’re going to really see what is being covered. This type of visual experience also breaks up the content, giving you a breather during your study sessions.
Encompassing Package for Students: The Examkrackers study package comes replete with six preparatory materials that cover physics, chemistry (orgo and general), psychology & sociology, biology 1 and 2, and reasoning skills. Also, within each section, there are lectures – 24 questions for each lecture to reinforce the learned concepts – and plenty of descriptive information to hammer home the key concepts.
Exams : Though there are plenty of study materials within this package, the simulated MCAT practice is really unmatched. The practice section of this package comes with 32 topical exams that are 30 minutes each and mimic the actual MCAT format. This should be plenty of practice for any test taker, especially given that this is a supplemental study package.
Best MCAT Prep Course Rankings
You will be spending many hours preparing for the USMLE Step 2 CK, so it’s crucial to find a study guide that best fits your learning style and background. Don’t let a prep course that is not compatible with your learning style get in the way of passing this important exam!
Your goal is to pass the Step 2 CK exam the first time you take it, so you need to pick the course that is the best fit for your schedule and individual learning style. Otherwise, you will waste money and many hours of studying with materials that won’t help you succeed. Our job at CRUSH is to arm you with enough information to choose the course that is best for you!
For this reason, we have personally researched and reviewed every major Step 2 CK prep course on the market! The comparison chart below will help you figure out which online course best fits your needs.
Step 2 CK Course Comparisons & Discounts
|Step 2 CK|
|COMPANY||Smash USMLE||Board Vitals||Kaplan Step 2||Doctors In Training||Becker USMLE|
|FULL-LENGTH PRACTICE EXAM|
|VIDEO LECTURES||200 Hours||120 Hours||55 Hours||200 Hours|
|PASS OR MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE|
|FREE SMARTPHONE APP|
|STEP 2 CS ONLINE OPTION|
|STEP 3 OPTION|
|DISCOUNTS||Save 10%||Save 10%|
|STUDENT SUPPORT||Instructor Email Support||Email Support||Instructor Email Support||Live Chat, Email, & Phone Support||Email Support|
|ONLINE ACCESS PERIOD||12 Months||6 Months||3 Months||45 Days||12 Months|
|READ MY FULL|
|Read Full Review||Read Full Review||Read Full Review||Read Full Review||Read Full Review|
|GET STARTED||START NOW||START NOW||START NOW||START NOW||START NOW|
Best USMLE Step 2 CK Prep Courses
|USMLE Step 2 CK Courses||Practice Questions||Price|
|Doctors in Training||350||$799|