Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Course [REVIEWS + DISCOUNTS 2021]

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In this guide to the best USMLE Step 1 prep courses, you’ll have a chance to compare 7 of the most effective USMLE 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. 

If you’re looking for effective USMLE prep, then keep reading!

MCAT COURSE

RANKING

PRICE STARTING AT

FULL-LENGTH PRACTICE TESTS

# PRACTICE QUESTIONS

COURSE ACCESS (MONTHS)

DISCOUNTS

#1

$1,999

2

3,300

Varies

#2

$69

0

3,200

3 months

#3

$299

0

1,400

12 months

#4

$300

3

3,400

12 months

#5

$2,200

0

2,000

6+ months

#6

$269

1-2

3,400

1-12 months

Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Course Reviews

#1: Kaplan

5 of 5 stars
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 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 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.

TOP-RATED USMLE PREP COURSE

Kaplan USMLE

Average Rating:
5/5

The Best USMLE Course For: Students seeking high-quality in-person or live online instruction

#2: BoardVitals

4.5 of 5 stars
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 $69 to 6 months at $189 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 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.

TOP-RATED USMLE PREP COURSE

BoardVitals USMLE

Average Rating:
4.5/5

The Best USMLE Course For: Realistic and customizable USMLE practice at a super affordable price! 

#3: Achievable

4 of 5 stars
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 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!

TOP-RATED USMLE PREP COURSE

Achievable USMLE

Average Rating:
4/5

The Best USMLE Course For: Comprehensive and effective content review at a great price!

#4: Lecturio

4 of 5 stars
lecturio review usmle
  • Most Popular Course: Premium 2-Year Plan
  • Course Formats: On Demand
  • Video Lecture Hours: 260 hours
  • Pass Guarantee?: No
  • Free Smartphone App?: Yes

Tons of practice: Lecturio offers over 3,400 USMLE practice questions and 3 full-length USMLE practice tests. Plus you’ll get over 260 hours of high-quality video lectures. 

Adaptive learning: Algorithms to adapt your study content and focus areas is not uncommon, but it also, unfortunately isn’t the norm yet for ALL USMLE prep courses. Lecturio, thankfully, utilizes a system that’s going to put the questions and content in front of you that you need to improve upon. 

lecturio usmle review

Awesome videos: Lecturio’s lecture videos are just that – a lecture by a host of experienced doctors, professors, and medical researchers. What sets them apart is the quality in which the lecture is combined with a digital whiteboard that bullets out the ideas and concepts while you’re working through the lecture. This is so amazing for visual learners. 

Super affordable: They don’t price gouge you for doing a shorter 3-month prep plan, at just $100 and a 1-year plan is closer to $300.

TOP-RATED USMLE PREP COURSE

Lecturio USMLE

Average Rating:
4/5

The Best USMLE Course For: Affordable Qbank subscriptions

#5: Pass Program

4 of 5 stars
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! 

TOP-RATED USMLE PREP COURSE

Pass Program USMLE

Average Rating:
4/5

The Best USMLE Course For: Intense, bootcamp-style USMLE prep course.

#6: UWorld

3.5 of 5 stars
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!

TOP-RATED USMLE PREP COURSE

Uworld USMLE

Average Rating:
3.5/5

The Best USMLE Course For: Supplemental Qbank and flashcard practice.

FAQ on Choosing the Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Course

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

Here is the best USMLE Step 1 prep course based on the following criteria:

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). The costs are directly correlated with how much in-person lecture as well as study assistance you are looking for in a USMLE course. 

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. If you don’t think you can realistically study for 10 hours/day, then feel free to extend your study plan accordingly! 

Is UWorld enough for Step 1?

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

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