Not sure which USMLE Q-Bank is right for you?

Don’t worry, we have analyzed the data and done the leg work comparing the Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Q-Bank with the UWORLD USMLE Step 1 Q-Bank to help you make an informed decision with your test prep!

In this head to head comparison we’ve considered the price, access time, quality and number of questions, answer explanation quality, test day simulation software, and overall user experience to help you decide which is best for you. We have tested both of these Q-Banks extensively and will highlight several important differences that all aspiring physicians should take into accountsx before purchasing a Q-Bank. Studying for the USMLE Step 1 is a big hurdle for medical students across the country and choosing preparation materials like the right Q-Bank will set you up for success. This review is meant to help you consider your learning style, budget, and overall studying needs to help you make the best decision possible. Each QBank has its advantages and disadvantages and these QBanks are not one size fits all so we encourage you to put some thought and consideration into this decision.

Kaplan vs. UWorld Review Cost:

1 month $269
3 months $149 $369
6 months $179 $419
12 months $299 $519
Number of Questions 2800+ 2600+
Additional Features Diagnostic Test, Self-Assessments Self-Assessments (depending on specific plan purchased)
Available Upgrades Interactive Videos and Mastery Assessments Biostatistics Subject Review
Practice Tests Included 2 Included Depends on Plan 0-2 Included
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Both Kaplan and UWorld lead the industry in USMLE Step 1 Q-Bank materials. Their question banks are large and although they may seem expensive, their utility in preparing you to succeed on Step 1 make them worthwhile investments. Both companies have similar vast Q-Banks however Kaplan is the more cost friendly option at this time. For example, for 3 months including 2 practice tests it would cost you $179 with Kaplan while UWorld would cost you $369 for 3 months with just 1 practice test. While we encourage you to learn about each Q-Bank to see which fits your needs best, overall cost definitely comes into play when determining which will both fit your test preparation needs and your budget.

Kaplan vs. UWorld Course Access

As students we have gotten this far by finding study strategies that work for us. Some of us may be crammers while others prefer taking our time and slowly and carefully mastering material. Learning science suggests that the key to retention is repetition, reinforcement and synthesis of information which requires a longer preparation time…but let’s face it if you’re preparing for the USMLE you have likely found a study strategy that works for you and now is not the time to make any drastic changes. Both Kaplan and UWorld have very similar plans in terms of timeline with UWorld having the added flexibility of a 1-month pl an for those studying last minute. We encourage you to carefully plan your dedicated studying time to choose the access time that is right for your needs. When choosing Q-Banks with shorter access times we advise you to ensure you are purchasing the practice tests you need. This is particularly important if purchasing a 1-month plan from UWorld which comes with no practice tests or a 3-month plan from UWorld which comes with only 1 practice test. Conversely, all of Kaplan’s Q-Banks come with the added benefit of 2 practice tests included and for that reason we feel like Kaplan takes the cake in terms of QBank access.

Helpful Articles & Comparisons

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  3. Live-Online USMLE Courses
  4. FREE USMLE Step 1 Practice Tests

UWorld Qbank Practice Questions Vs. Kaplan

Both quantity and quality are of the utmost importance in determining which Step 1 Q-Bank is right for you. Both companies are constantly updating their Q-Banks, both refining their current questions and adding new questions so they get better and better each year. Kaplan is generally known to have longer question stems which some learners find helpful in preparing for test day while UWorld generally has shorter question stems however the difference in question length is pretty negligible in our opinion. In terms of quantity these numbers are relatively fluid however at this time Kaplan boasts 2800+ questions while UWorld boasts 2600+ questions. So… when it comes to quantity, Kaplan has the advantage.

When it comes to quality, we would encourage you to utilize UWorlds 10 question demo and Kaplans 38 question demo that are both available on their respective websites since this is a much more subjective decision. In the past UWorld was known to have higher quality questions with medical students reporting that they found the information to be more test-day relevant than other test preparation companies. Both Q-Banks are high quality, reviewed regularly, and constantly evolving so you can’t really go wrong either way however if quality of individual questions is your main metric, UWorld would probably get the edge from us.

In terms of flexibility and adaptability Kaplan is unique in their sorting of questions by difficulty. When test day comes you will ultimately be responsible for all of the material however starting with easier questions early in your studying can be a good way to build confidence and solidify your knowledge before moving on to more difficult content.

Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Answers/Explanations VS. Uworld

When utilizing Q-Banks you should think of them primarily as learning resources with answer explanations that are incredibly rich in useful test day material. The benefit of using Q-Banks rather than NBME practice tests is that beyond just practicing answering questions you also unlock all the information of the answers and explanations which we feel is the most valuable part of a Q-Bank. Both Kaplan and UWorld are known for high quality answers and explanations however the way they present the information varies slightly. Kaplan answer explanations tend to be more streamlined starting with their brief “Re-Kap” to establish the main learning objective or factoid that should be memorized by the learner and broadening to include more information including images, diagrams, tables and explanations of correct and incorrect answers. UWorld answers tend to be slightly more verbose, starting with longer explanations and then distilling them down to an educational objective. In this case it tends to come down more to your learning style and is really a tossup between companies. Kaplan’s recent upgrades have the added benefit of an interface which allows users to have the question on one side of the screen with the answer and explanation on the other side of the screen which we think will be beneficial for students reviewing their prior tests.

No matter what QBank you choose, remember these answers and explanations are goldmines of high-yield information that you will no doubt see on test day, take your time going over your answers and learning from both your correct and incorrect answers.

Kaplan vs. UWorld User Experience

Part of using a Q-Bank is to practice for the day of your exam and familiarize yourself with the format and interface. Both companies have evolved to provide a realistic test day type experience with similar interfaces to the actual test day itself. This is where we encourage you to take advantage of an NBME practice test at some point in your study preparation as these exactly mirror the USMLE step 1 itself. Kaplan and UWorld have both done a great job mimicking the test day interface and both are incredibly similar to what you’ll see on your big day. UWorld used to be known as more similar to the visual aesthetic of the real test however Kaplan’s latest test has also evolved making this one a toss-up.

Free Trial Comparison

Both Kaplan and UWorld have the added benefit of offering trials. We encourage you to take advantage of these to allow you to see which Q-Bank matches your preferences and learning style best. Both services have free trials that allow you to see questions and their interface. Kaplan has the added advantage of having 38 questions available while UWorld only allows you try 10 questions at this time. No matter which QBank you choose we encourage you to take advantage of these free materials.

Kaplan Free Trial & DIscounts

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Qbank Available Upgrades

Test prep companies have begun adding upgrades to their USMLE QBank packages so it is important to look and see what features you are buying and which ones you might need to pay extra for. The main differences between Kaplan and UWorld here are their approach to Biostatistics and their additional resources to solidify your learning.

Biostatistics can be particularly daunting subject for some medical students because it tends not to be covered as well as other topics in the traditional medical curriculums. Kaplan takes the approach of integrating biostatistics into their QBank and we feel their biostatistics content is sufficient to get you ready for test day. UWorld also integrates biostatistics into their QBank but has the added benefit of offering an additional biostatistics module to purchase. We recommend first deciding if you actually need additional biostatistics help before purchasing this module as often times the QBanks themselves can provide sufficient material to master the material. However if you find biostatistics to be your week section, the UWorld biostatistics review could be the key to increasing your score.

Kaplan has recently expanded their QBank services to include upgrades such as mastery assessments and interactive videos by Dr. Armando. These new materials are unique to Kaplan and in particular we have found the interactive videos to be particularly helpful in offering a different medium to supplement your test day preparation. In terms of available upgrades we feel that Kaplan is superior to UWorld and given its baseline lower cost students can purchase Kaplan with upgrades and still spend less money than UWorld.

USMLE Practice Tests

Practice tests serve three important purposes in the studying process. First and foremost, simulating exam day and conditioning your mind to be able to answer questions for seven 60-minute blocks on your test day is a valuable experience. Beyond that, practice tests help students assess progress and see if they are progressing toward meeting their score goals. Lastly, these practice tests also serve as extra questions for you to take advantage and learn from. Kaplan’s QBanks have the advantage of coming with 2 practice tests while UWorld it depends on your plan and in some cases you have to pay extra for practice tests.

Students across the country have debated on the test’s overall quality. We look for practice tests that simulate exam day both in content and in score predictions. In our opinion UWorld practice tests have a curve that is slightly too generous causing students to think they have made more progress than they actually have. Kaplan’s tests grade on a slightly more stringent scale and in our opinion are more realistic in terms of predicting your actual score. No matter which QBank you choose, we encourage you to also utilize the NBME practice tests—they are available for purchase for $60 each and are the most accurate in terms of predicting your score. The only drawback with NBME exams is that answers and explanations are not available like Kaplan and UWorld offer so they are useful in establishing progress and benchmarks but are not as helpful in terms of furthering your learning and progress.

Final Thoughts

Studying for the USMLE Step 1 is an important and admittedly stressful part of every medical student’s journey toward becoming a physician. As a medical student you are often flooded with advice from classmates, professors, and the internet. Both Kaplan and UWorld have put together high-quality QBanks and we feel that with either option as part of your Step 1 studying you will have all the tools you need. We encourage you to think about your own preferences and to take advantage of the respective free trials to see which Q-Bank is the best fit for you. Our analysis is meant to guide you but ultimately the choice is yours. Both Kaplan and UWorld offer quality products and students across the country succeed using either product. Lastly, on a personal note, the studying process for Step 1 is arduous, grueling and stressful—when you feel overwhelmed with this process take a breath and remind yourself why you went into medicine in the first place…Step 1 is merely a hurdle along the way and in no time you’ll have the privilege and honor of practicing medicine and taking care of patients.

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