Free USMLE Step 1 Questions

No matter how much money you spend on books, every medical student needs to do a ton of practice questions for the USMLE Step 1. Questions are an excellent way to learn the useful tip-offs and keywords, and—depending on the source—get a better feel for the board format. They’re also a form of active learning, unlike trying to self-induce a coma with the universally-utilized First Aid for the USMLE Step 1. I believe USMLEWorld is the best question bank out there—despite its draconian efforts to prevent IP theft—and there is no free source out there that matches it (especially for the final marathon push before the big day). That said, there are other ways to study, especially during the basic science years.

For question books, post-Step MS3s and your local Half-Price Books are always good resources to buy study materials on the cheap. But free is better, and the internet is undeniably convenient and portable. I scoured the web to find free question banks online (updated February 2014):

  • The NBME offers its own small set of free practice materials for the Steps 1, 2, and 3. You have to download the program here (22mb), Windows only. It contains the software that the actual Step uses (Fred V2), a tutorial, and 100+ question practice test. A must do. A pdf file is also available from the above link, which contains the same questions and is a little more accessible. I’ve written answers/explanations to the 2014 question set here.
  • USMLEQuickPrep is a large (~4500 questions) and entirely free qbank. It’s the largest and most exhaustive free source out there. The questions are a mixed-bag, and not all are in Step-style, but most have explanations, the site isn’t too clunky, and it certainly stands out for its sheer volume.
  • Lippincott’s 350-Question Practice Test for USMLE Step 1 is solid, but you must register (for free) before using it.
  • MedMaster (makers of the “made ridiculously simple” series) has a USMLE Step 1 qbank (among others). The questions are not step-style but rather content review. It’s a good foundational accompaniment to book learning, as it clearly highlights key facts and distinctions that are crucial for the Step 1, but it does not prepare you for the exam proper. There are also no puns or goofy diagrams like the book series.
  • Test Prep Review has a USMLE practice self-assessment section. There are 20 modules of 20 questions for 400 questions. They’re mainly fact-recall and not vignette-based, but it’s easy to use and accessible.
  • Wiki Test Prep [now defunct] is was a student-written qbank with over 900 questions with explanations. The site is great, and you can browse questions by keyword, flag questions, and create your own tests. It also lets you know what percentage of students answer the question correctly, which is interesting. The questions are in clinical-vignette board format.
  • hosts the 60 question Kaplan diagnostic exam. Answers can be exposed during the test if desired and do contain explanations. (Mom MD also has the identical sampler, only organized in six 10-question pages with answers directly below questions)
  • ValueMD has a large question bank divided up by subject. The site also requires a free registration. The questions are straightforward fact-recall type and the site itself is clunky and hideous, but it’s still decent review.
  • Kaplan lets you try one 48-question section for free after signing up.
  • USMLERx has a free 20 question qbank test using the NBME’s Fred V2 software. Their “Qmax” qbank is made by the same people who wrote First Aid, and so the explanations come straight for the book, which is a serious shortcoming in my opinion.
  • USMLE Consult has small free sample trials for both Step 1 and Robbins Pathology, which are both relevant.
  • has 50 cardiology USMLE Step 1 questions, with plans to add more.


(For more information on how I personally would recommend studying, feel free to peruse my post: How to Approach the USMLE Step 1. You can also find my compilation of free study resources for the basic sciences here.)


  1. thank you very much, wish there were more people like you. Your website linked me to a site that has really oriented my studying, i feel more confident in, and better prepared for my step 1.
    thanks again, and keep up the good work.

  2. Thank You so much for such helpful info. So many links which inspire and help me feel more prepared.

  3. Pingback: usmle format
  4. hey ben!
    thanks a TON for those sites…
    just wondering if you’ve come across one that will email you a USMLE question a day?
    i did the mcat a day one last year and i found it helpful, just a little reminder each morning to keep me on track!
    also, any other resources you might be able to share with me would be greatly appreciated :)
    i’m a canadian studying at one of the schools in the carribean (st. matthews in cayman) but i’m determined to get back to Canada so I really need to prove myself! i had interviews in canada at two places which went well but ultimately i wanted to get the show on the road instead of waiting a year to start (rolling semester cycles)
    anways, thanks a ton and please hit me back if you’re able to help :)

  5. I remember there was a question a day Twitter account from Kaplan last year, but I was unable to find it again today. I think the essentials to me remain the USMLEWorld qbank and First Aid. The Kaplan Qbank is good if one has already gone through UWorld twice. I also liked the Robbins and Coltan Pathology review question book. Anything else I think is generally not a great use of time.

  6. Thanks Ben!
    I’ll look that path book up :)
    if you think of anything else, please let me know!
    cheerio for now,

  7. Thank you very much for your help. Also want to let you know that Wiki Test Prep is no longer available.

  8. Thanks a lot Ben,
    Your list is very helpful
    Keep the good job, be a blessing to others

  9. Hi Ben,
    Firstly, I say thanks for this great site. I wanted to know your thoughts about the Goljan’s rapid review: Pathology? I am trying to chooses between that and Robins & Coltran’s review of pathology question book.


  10. I personally think that questions are where it’s at, especially when pressed for time, so I really like the R&C question book. I think Goljan is probably a good choice when your grasp of pathology is more limited, as it is a true “review” book. Well organized but a bit mind-numbing (death by bullet list) for me. I’ve heard the questions you get online are apparently not very good, though I haven’t done them myself.

    I think Goljan is a good companion to second year course-work and perhaps for early Step studying, but closer to the test (either the NBME Pathology Shelf or the Step 1), I would focus on the questions in R&C, which are Goldilocks-right and organized in a useful way.

  11. hi. i need your help.i’m newly 2nd year at Nantong medical unversity in China and really interested in the USmly. I have planned on starting with step 1,i dont know when i will write the exams because i dont have the study materials. which books do u think are best for me? thank you so much.

  12. Please see this post about how I recommend studying for Step 1. To summarize, a question bank is the most important “book” you can use.

    After that, most would agree that First Aid is the most essential step review book. There are tons of specific review books for anatomy, biochemistry, pathology, etc. Most are not a good use of your time, though many people find Goljan’s Rapid Review of Pathology useful as well (though I personally did not, I prefer the Robbin’s question book; see previous comments).

  13. Hey There. I discovered your weblog using msn. This is a very neatly
    written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to
    read extra of your helpful info. Thanks for the post.

    I’ll certainly come back.

  14. Free books/resources for the basic sciences and USMLE can be found here. My recommendations for shelf exams and textbooks are here. My advice for USMLE Step 1 is here.

  15. Hi Ben!
    I just came across your blog and its really helpful, thanks!
    I am just starting to learn for Step1 (after taking Step2 already, because I am an international medical graduate). For Step2 I just used first aid and YouTube Kaplan Lectures and USMLE world.
    I found those Lectures very helpful to use another medium.
    Now I it seems to be difficult to find any free lectures for Step1 (I think Kaplan erased all lectures on youtube). Do you have any recommendations?

  16. Sadly, I don’t know of any free videos off hand. If you find any, please let me know so I can include them above. I suppose if there were good free lectures around these days, companies like DIT wouldn’t have much a business model.

  17. thank you for taking time to create such an informative website…not everyone is as nice these days.i dont usually comment but i had to because i found this page very helpful.i am about to write in june.also an img.

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