USMLE Pass Program Review

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USMLE Step 1


All in all, the Pass Program is a top notch USMLE Step 1 course. But keep this in mind: preparing for the USMLE is not about using numerous resources or even all the resources that are at your reach, we truly recommend you to choose the course that best fits your learning style. Dr. Francis’s methods of teaching are proven to work, engaging and easy to understand. Plus the quality content, companion PDF’s and new dashboard we highly recommend the Pass Program to any perspective USMLE Step 1 student.

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You will get: This is a great chance to diverge from classic teaching Francis is a teacher that knows how to motivate students Lessons pacing is ideal, not too little, not too long classes If you have missed a review class, you may “retake” it, since they are all recorded Two NBMEs are included in the program There is a good team of instructors that are ready to answer any questions you have, including related to the material covered in class. Of course they will not tutor you, but if you’ve missed a key concept, you may write them after class and get answered in 10-20 minutes.

USMLE Step 1 Pass Program Review

USMLE Pass Program Detailed Course Information & Features

Why it’s so different.

This program sets itself apart from others by the way it structures disciplines. When you were in to medical school, you probably have gotten used to studying subject by subject separately. Well, Dr. Francis, the face from Pass Program, thinks differently, this is probably the most integrated course out there. Dr. Francis saw what he thought was wrong with medical education and did it his own way: he will teach you concepts, not mnemonics.

If this still sounds confusing to you, here is an example: One of the first lessons are about the so-called Low Energy State. According to Dr. Francis, if you apply this concept to any disease that develops because of a low energy state (anemia, for example), symptoms will not only repeat itself, but you will get it right 90% of the time. And as he says, you should aim for the 90% and not lose your time trying to achieve the other 10% — not that this is impossible, but if you’re short on time, this is still a pretty good promise.  Ultimately, Dr. Francis wants to teach students how to recreate these concepts in every clinical vignette and clinical scenario whenever needed. All classes are, in this way, integrated, you will study multiple subjects simultaneously, in the way Dr. Francis puts it. He can be a little emotional at times, but surely has a good sense of humor and keeps up a good dynamic in class.


Best USMLE Step 1 Course

Dr. Francis simply doesn’t think you can memorize everything you need to know for the USMLE test, therefore, all the information must be integrated. In fact, the first hour of class is only about studying techniques, so this can be truly helpful.

What they offer.

9.4Expert Score
USMLE Pass Program Review
Course Features: Online lectures on almost 40 topics Course notes book Questions with video answers Student support Practice exams
  • This is a great chance to diverge from classic teaching
  • Francis is a teacher that knows how to motivate students
  • Lessons pacing is ideal, not too little, not too long classes
  • If you have missed a review class, you may “retake” it, since they are all recorded
  • Two NBMEs are included in the program
  • There is a good team of instructors that are ready to answer any questions you have, including related to the material covered in class. Of course they will not tutor you, but if you’ve missed a key concept, you may write them after class and get answered in 10-20 minutes.
  • You cannot rewatch question solving classes
  • No money back guarantee if you have subscribed to the online version of the program.
  • If you truly feel comfortable with a prep course that is divided in disciplines, then you might just not adapt to Dr. Francis’ concept.

In their website you will find a 12-week or 5-week program. You will have classes everyday, plus a morning session lasting one hour to solve test questions with Dr. Francis. In the program you are offered both on demand lessons as well as the daily (except for Sunday) live classes, the content doesn’t vary extensively.

Let’s take a closer look at what the USMLE Pass Program has to offer that might call your attention.

The pacing is key to the program.

In general, classes are very well put. According to Dr. Francis, your brain “reaches Vmax” within two hours, therefore, you will not have longer classes, and if you do, you will have longer breaks. Ultimately, you can attend the program online or live. Prices, obviously differ, but the first that stroke was the fact that you are not only getting a live feed from the class with the students who are taking the course in person, but you also have a button to “raise your hand” and ask questions to Dr. Francis in class, with a microphone. This seems a bit different from various other USMLE Step 1 prep courses that offer a simple chat pod.

What your subscription includes.

Within your online subscription, you are granted access to PDF’s to accompany the classes, basically everything that Dr. Francis mentions is well written there, and you will rarely ever need to write anything unless you want to take extra notes.

Apart from the textbook, you have access to various other secondary files, but the one that called our attention the most was the “Pass Program Clues”, this is also a PDF file that has exclusively only high yield questions. That means that it is like the First Aid, but only with questions and a short explanation on the side. This can be very useful for a last week review before your exam, for example.

USMLE Review Book for the PASS Program

When you enroll in the PASS Program, you will receive a physical book including all of the lecture notes in print form. This book has a total of over 600 pages, all of which are devoted to fact-heavy content analysis. Let me just add That it is a dense, weighty book. It is like a bible for the USMLE notes because it is so densely packed with important information.

The book is organized in a way that makes it easy to follow along with the lecture by topic, and it includes space for you to take notes while you do so. In my perspective, this is a book that is both very well written and very comprehensive. On the other hand, I wouldn’t recommend utilizing it in isolation; rather, it works best as a supplement to the live course.

USMLE Simulation Exams Provided by the PASS Program

Two full-length mock NBME examinations are included with the purchase of virtually every PASS Program training option. The first one is given very early on in the class as a diagnostic to measure your baseline knowledge and skills. It lasts for around an hour. In addition to this, it identifies areas in which you might improve and provides a benchmark against which to evaluate your development. The second and final full-length practice exam is administered relatively close to the end of the class. It was during the week before the last one that I was in class when I took it.

But regardless of when you decide to take your second practice test, doing so is beneficial. There is nothing more beneficial than simulating the conditions of an exam with a practice test, so I was really thankful to have two opportunities that were for the full length.
user experience of the online portal’s user interface

The PASS Program has a fairly simple and straightforward student interface. There are no flashy features or streamlined designs to be found. It only provides you with direct access to your quizlets, films on demand, and other elements of the app in a basic manner. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly functional, which is one of the reasons I liked it so much. However, it is not a pleasing sight.

In general, the load times were satisfactory, and I have never experienced any difficulties while streaming my classes or watching films on demand. If the user interface is a significant factor for you, there is a good chance that you will not be satisfied with the PASS Program’s offerings. But if you don’t give a damn about such things, you won’t have any problems at all.

Personalized USMLE Coaching through the PASS Program

The live PASS Program courses almost universally provide an option for private instruction. You will discuss your progress with one of the PASS Program teachers at a meeting that takes place once, twice, or even three times per week (depending on the course you are taking). This is an enormous benefit that the majority of other USMLE preparation courses do not often include as a basic component of their curriculum.

Your tutor will be up to speed on how well you have performed on practice questions, and they will be interested in hearing about how well you have been doing in class. I had the impression that my tutor was really concerned in ensuring that I was satisfied with both the lesson and my development. The first portion of the majority of our sessions was devoted to reviewing my progress, and then we moved on to a more open-ended conversation about the issues I wanted assistance with and the areas in which I might make improvements.

This tuition perfectly complements the format of the PASS Program class that we are taking. Because the PASS Program places a significant emphasis on the accomplishments of each individual student, it should not come as a surprise that they provide access to such a resource. I found that my tutoring sessions were enjoyable on the most, and they served as a wonderful bookend to very lengthy weeks of studying.
Access to the Content Timeframe

You will continue to have access to the materials for your PASS Program online course for a period of six months after the course has concluded. The on-demand course is the one and only exception to this rule; because there are no live sessions, the content access period is just 6 months long. However, this does not apply to individual class recordings, which are typically only available for listening for a period of 30 days after each session they document. Having said that, access to the on-demand video classes will continue uninterrupted over the entire period of one year.


Morning question classes.

Because Dr. Francis’ method is so different from everything else in the market, question solving classes are separate from review classes. The question solving classes take place early in the morning. It’s important to attend those classes since they are not recorded like the review classes. And as we’ve mentioned before, it is imperative that you are located on the right time zone, classes take place in US Central Time Zone.

Pinpoint your weak points from the start.

Other good news are that the Pass Program offers you two NBMEs included in your subscription. The idea is that you take the first one as a diagnostic test before the course even starts, while this might sound a bit intimidating, most prep programs do this in order to motivate the student and pinpoint your weak points at first.

What we also liked about the Pass Program was not only their motivating spirit, but the fact that you can get your money back if you did not pass the test. The issue is that this perk does not extend to those attending the online version of the course, but rather only to students who are there in person.

Either way, the USMLE Pass Program is a solid choice based solely on Dr. Francis’ teaching methods and the quality content they provide. Better yet it’s an incredible value when you compare to the big players like Kaplan USMLE.

USMLE Step 1 Online Review Course Prices

  • Live Online: $2,200 (5 weeks), $5,500 (12 weeks)
  • In Person: $3,750 (5 weeks), $6,499 (12 weeks)
  • On Demand: $899 (6 months)

*12-week students have access to the recorded Morning Question sessions.

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How to find the best USMLE Step 1 Test Prep Course 

When preparing to USMLE, you probably will (or have) asked yourself what kind of USMLE prep course is best for you. There are plenty out there, some which are more popular due to great marketing, public outreach. But that is obviously not what matters when you’re looking for a good prep course: straightforwardness, review material, availability of instructors, diagnostic exam tests — this is what we searched for; so we’ve gathered the best to discuss in details to help you pass faster.

Your expectations vs. the reality

A prep course will usually offer videos with exclusive review material, in pdf or physical books. You may also be provided with on demand videos or even live lessons with a chat pod to communicate with the teacher. The on demand videos works best for those who live in another time zone, since you can watch at your own time, while live lessons can be difficult  to follow in this same context, since they might be broadcasted in the middle of the night in your time.

Think gadgets.

When choosing the prep course that works best for you, you might want to consider if they offer a mobile app, in reality, you might not be sitting before your computer all the time. This is particularly useful if the prep course offers a question bank of its own, it’s a great way to fill up your commute time.

Take a test drive.

Before subscribing, make sure that the prep course also offers a demo version, or simply a video demonstrating how the software works.

Content matters, but so do looks.

As much as some might not be ready to admit it: it is much easier to keep using a platform with a friendly design and that doesn’t have neon colors. Ultimately, design matters, it saves your time and makes the learning experience easier to cope with.

Plan your expenses.

If you’re planing to take the exam in  2, 4 or 6+  months it plays a big role on your wallet. These programs usually offer different deals for longer subscriptions. Be sure to set aside time you wish to dedicate to those courses and then compare prices. Luckily, we have done that research for you!

So, long story short, we truly care about and rate our Best USMLE Step 1 Courses by: content, videos, question banks, mobile apps, course design, dashboards, analytics and price.


USMLE Pass Program FAQ’s

Is there a mobile app I can download?

At the time that this evaluation was being written, the PASS Program did not have a mobile application available for download. It is unfortunate that this is the case because a lot of other USMLE preparation suppliers offer the same kind of resource. When you have some spare time, it can be beneficial to work through some practice questions or view a video lesson that you can take with you wherever you go. It is therefore a bit of a shame that you are not provided with that opportunity here.

Is there a guarantee that I will pass or get my money back?

Even though the PASS Program does not give a money-back guarantee in the event that you do not pass your Step 1 or Step 2 USMLE exam, a handful of their courses do come with a guarantee that allows you to retake the test. This means that if you don’t do well on your test, they will let you retake the class at no additional cost so that you can give it another shot.

You must attend 80% of lectures and satisfy some additional requirements in order to be eligible for the guarantee. Please read the fine print, but know that as long as you attend all of your classes and do all of the work, you should have no problem qualifying for the guarantee.


USMLE Pass Program Review
USMLE Pass Program Review


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