The Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Courses in 2024

Written by: Kristine Thorndyke
Reviewed by: Harshi Dhingra, MD

In this guide, you’ll have a chance to compare 6 of the most effective USMLE Step 1 prep on the market today. We carefully vetted and audited each course and have ranked them according to our findings while also taking into account real student reviews. 

Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Course Reviews

1. Kaplan – Best Overall
2. Boardvitals – Most Affordable Qbank
3. Achievable – Most Recommended by Students
4. Pass Program – Best Bootcamp Style
5. UWorld – Best Mobile App
6. Med School Bootcamp – Best Video Lessons

#1: Kaplan

Read our full review: Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Review

kaplan usmle prep
  • Most Popular Course: On Demand
  • Course Formats: In Person, Live Online, On Demand, Qbank
  • Video Lecture Hours: 200 hours
  • Pass Guarantee?: No
  • Free Smartphone App?: Yes
  • Practice Questions: 3,300

One of the only live online USMLE study options for USMLE: With 270 hours of live online video lectures with licensed physicians, the Kaplan USMLE Step 1 live online program packs a punch for those looking for an in-depth, structured review!  Included are group advising sessions for personalized study plans and assistance in your residency timeline. 

Large question bank and video lecture hours: Every USMLE online course option includes the Kaplan Qbank with more than 3,300 practice questions. The questions include in-depth answer explanations, 3D images, 2 full-length practice tests, and can be accessed on their app.  

kaplan usmle qbank

A full suite of diagnostic tests, full-length exams, and assessment tests: All Kaplan USMLE review courses and Qbanks come with 2 full-length practice tests, but if you opt for a course rather than just a Qbank, you’ll access a diagnostic test, 2 full-length simulated USMLE tests, and 11 assessment tests. Suffice it to say, you’ll have plenty of test-day practice and simulation to pass the USMLE.

Newly updated Kaplan Medical app: You can practice all your Qbank questions on their app that automatically syncs with your desktop account. You can access the Qbank features like the explanations, videos, diagrams, and tracked progress.

Best Overall
Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Prep Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Prep
  • Customized, individualized prep approach based on diagnostic test
  • Plenty of rich graphics for visual learners
  • Tons of practice questions (3,300 to be exact)
  • A wealth of exclusive Kaplan prep literature (7 physical books + e-books)
  • More expensive than most other Step 1 prep course offerings
  • No money-back guarantee
  • Shorter content access period than many competitors
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#2: BoardVitals

boardvitals usmle
  • Most Popular Course: Question Bank Prepare (3 Months)
  • Course Formats: Qbank 1, 3, and 6 months
  • Video Lecture Hours: N/A
  • Pass Guarantee?: Yes
  • Free Smartphone App?: Yes
  • Practice Questions: 3,300

Amazing value: BoardVitals offers high-quality practice questions that have been written to specifically match all question formats on the USMLE. Course subscriptions range from one month at $169 to 6 months at $259 and 3+ months include a 100% pass guarantee of a free, equal-length subscription if you don’t pass. 

Realistic practice: Choose the timing mode (Study, Timed, or Untimed) depending on your goals for the quiz and enjoy working through questions that mimic the real USML down to the question type (Multiple Choice, Select All That Apply, Graphic Items, Hot Spot Items, etc.). All questions were created by graduates from top programs, practicing clinicians, and faculty from top research institutions. 

boardvitals qbank

BoardVitals Medical app: Within this USMLE review app, you can create your own custom quizzes set at your chosen difficulty and study mode. These quizzes can then be downloaded for offline studying so that you don’t blow through your data if you’re on-the-move! This app allows you to monitor your progress through detailed analytics.

Most Affordable Qbank
Boardvitals USMLE Question Bank Boardvitals USMLE Question Bank
  • Great value subscription options
  • App allows for on-the-go practice
  • 100% pass guarantee for subscriptions longer than 1 month
  • No lesson videos
  • No in-class review or instruction options
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#3: Achievable

achievable usmle
  • Most Popular Course: On Demand
  • Course Formats: On Demand
  • Video Lecture Hours: N/A
  • Pass Guarantee?: Yes
  • Free Smartphone App?: Yes
  • Practice Questions: 1,400

Smart technology: Achievable has invested in technology that identifies your strengths and weaknesses and then shifts content accordingly so that you see the topics you need to improve upon at specific, proven intervals during your practice. This spaced review concept is proven to help maximize retention of key topics. 

Great value: Achievable’s USMLE review course is extremely affordable, relatively speaking. The course comes at a fraction of the cost of other USMLE content review courses, but is still high quality.

achievable usmle review

Bite-size lessons: Each lesson has been broken down into short readings (less than 15 minutes each) followed by a quick quiz (less than 10 questions). This means you can get in a quick lesson even if you just have 30 minutes. 

Digital textbook: Their online textbook cuts straight to the point and offers helpful images, diagrams, and charts. It’s also mobile friendly and has detailed walkthroughs of sample questions!

Affordable Comprehensive Review
Achievable USMLE Review Achievable USMLE Review

An affordable one-year subscription to USMLE content review and Qbank that is also mobile friendly.

  • Adaptive study planner is personalized for your schedule
  • E-textbook is easy to read and includes diagrams and visuals
  • No classroom or live online instruction
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#4: Med School Bootcamp

med school bootcamp review
  • Most Popular Course: 1 year access
  • Course Formats: On Demand
  • Video Lecture: 1,600+ videos
  • Pass Guarantee?: Yes
  • Free Smartphone App?: Yes

High yield video lessons: Each video highlights and annotates high-yield pearls and easy ways to remember concepts when testing. There are also high-yield buttons that highlight topics that are critical to understand for the USMLE. You can download slides that are used in the lesson videos and annotate during the lesson.

Board style questions breakdown videos: At the end of each chapter, they’ll integrate all the concepts you’ve learned. Within the 1 teaching point, there are usually 5-10 smaller teaching point. After each question, there is an explanation video that breaks down each of these points.

AnKing v12 integration: The full integration with this Anki deck makes studying easier and all the cards are sorted with #Bootcamp (you will need to sign up and pay for separately (it’s $5 per month).

Best Video Lessons
Med School Bootcamp | Ace Med School & Pass Step 1 Med School Bootcamp | Ace Med School & Pass Step 1

Use code: TPN10 at checkout for 10% off all Bootcamp courses

  • High-quality, digestible video lessons
  • Affordable subscription-based or year-long options
  • Thorough answer explanations for both correct and incorrect solutions
  • No physical books or workbooks
  • Little student support or instructor assistance
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#5: Pass Program

pass program usmle review
  • Most Popular Course: In Person
  • Course Formats: In Person, Live Online, On Demand
  • Video Lecture Hours: 150 hours
  • Pass Guarantee?: Yes
  • Free Smartphone App?: Yes
pass program usmle review

Responsive tutors: When you join a Pass Program USMLE course, you’ll gain access to the instructors and have the opportunity to ask questions when they arise. The average response time is 15 minutes. 

Immersive and rigorous: Pass Program has been around for 25 years holding on-site full-immersive courses. They continue to be the most intense, hands-on in-person USMLE courses available. For those who don’t want to travel to Illinois, you can also take the courses in a live online format. Either way, be prepared to work hard during these USMLE prep bootcamps. 

Learn from the founder: The daily class lectures are taught by the founder, Dr. Francis. He’s been teaching these courses since the beginning of Pass Program 25 years ago. These classes are engaging and expect a lot from you, as well, as Dr. Francis is not shy to call upon students often. 

In-person courses: Few companies still offer in-person courses, but if you are interested in staying in Champaign, Illinois for their 12-week in-person courses, they’ll arrange your student housing and board for the entirety of the program! Days are long, with about 7 hours of instruction Monday-Friday, but that’s what you’re paying for with Pass Program! 

Best Bootcamp
PASS Program | USMLE Step 1 and 2 Prep Course PASS Program | USMLE Step 1 and 2 Prep Course

Live online and on-site USMLE Step 1 and 2 courses for students looking for that classroom feel.

  • Effective in-person instruction
  • Private tutoring options
  • Intense prep schedule for USMLE prep immersion
  • No mobile app
  • Course platform and video library feels outdated
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#6: UWorld

uworld usmle review
  • Most Popular Course: Qbank 180 Days 
  • Course Formats: Qbank
  • Video Lecture Hours: N/A
  • Pass Guarantee?: No
  • Free Smartphone App?: Yes

Free App: Having an app made specifically for your USMLE prep is a significantly better user experience than just “mobile friendly” access to a course. The UWorld app is synced with your account, so you can go easily from your iPhone to your study on your laptop without any loss of analytics or information. 

uworld usmle prep

Flashcards: You can easily create and sort through flashcards depending on your specific study goals. You’ll be able to customize your study sessions with spaced repetition within the Study section of the Qbank.

Detailed Analysis: Each practice test will give you a full set of detailed analytics that will show you how you compare as well as an approximate 3-digit score!

Best Mobile App
USMLE Step 1: Practice Questions & Tests USMLE Step 1: Practice Questions & Tests

UWorld is the most reputable source for USMLE Qbank and flashcards - see the subscription options available depending on your prep timeline.

  • Amazing Qbank mimics the official test
  • Qbank updated regularly so you're only practicing on realistic questions
  • Does not serve as a comprehensive review course
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Related: Guide to the 4 Best Anki Decks for Step 1


What is the best prep course for the USMLE Step 1?

Our favorite USMLE Step 1 prep course is Kaplan. This course is the most comprehensive for students who need content review + practice.

How much does a USMLE prep course cost?

The USMLE prep courses we recommend for students cost between $100 (for 3 months) to $6,000 (for an in-person immersive course). If cost is a huge factor, you can also consider a more affordable home study book sets in our Best USMLE Step 1 Books for 2024.

How long should I study for Step 1?

The general rule of thumb for Step 1 is 500-600 hours of studying. This can be achieved in 3-6 months depending on the amount of time you’re willing to study each day.

Is UWorld enough for Step 1?

Most students who plan on using the UWorld Qbank for their Step 1 study will use the First Aid book to fill in the gaps in concepts that you may not get through practice with UWorld.

Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Course Wrap Up

USMLE Step 1 prep is not one-size-fits-all, so by considering your needs as a student, you should be able to find a study program that fits your study style. Starting with this list of the best 6 USMLE Step 1 Prep Courses is the first step in finding the best match for your prep.