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 May 2016):

  • 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 2013-14 question set here and the 2014-15 set here (with links to the pdfs also included). The 2015-16 set contains no new questions.
  • WikiDoc has a 696 question board-style USMLE Step 1 qbank. Robust, very nice. Totally free but requires a login (the captcha broke their regular email-based registration, so sign in via facebook).
  • Lecturio has a free 400 question USMLE question bank in clinical vignette format with explanations organized by subject (you can “unlock” additional questions on a per-month basis). No registration required.
  • 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. [site broken, no response from company]
  • Lippincott’s 350-Question Practice Test for USMLE Step 1 is solid, but you must register (for free) before using it. [now defunct]
  • 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, but with questions available as a pdf for download] 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 an old 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.

Enjoy. WikiDoc, Lecturio, and Wiki Test Prep together are about 2000 questions, nearly as big as UW. Add in the past few years of official practice questions and you’re there.

(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. Pingback: usmle format
  3. 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 :)

  4. 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.

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

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

  7. 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.


  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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).

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Can i pass exam by suding first aid and doing usmle Q bank only? Without studing kaplan lec notes?
    Whats the expected future for one just pass step 1 & 2 with low score and can not be admitted to residency program?

  17. 1) Yes, absolutely
    2) An MD without residency isn’t worth very much in healthcare fields; any clinical work typically requires clinical experience. It would be an added credential for healthcare related fields, like some consulting gigs, research etc, though even those would probably benefit even more from a residency background.

  18. Hi!! I find this just perfect, thanks for sharing…
    what do you recommend, I read kaplan lectures about 1 year ago and star doing questions with kaplan qbank and uworld until 4 months ago, but a have to stop cause personal problems I wanna know what do you recommend, should I study lectures all over again or should I star again with questions and first Aid? Until my exam.

  19. Generally, I would continue with questions and supplement with book reading on a per-topic basis as needed.

  20. Dear Ben,

    I went through the question bank in usmlequickprep. I find that questions are segregated subject wise. However within the subject, it is not topic wise. I mean i cannot read a chapter from First Aid and then attempt questions. I would have to be fairly thorough in the subject to attempt the question banks. All question banks are like that.
    I plan to write USMLE Step I a year from now. How should i prepare? How should i use question banks?

    • For dedicated review, I used question banks on random mode to simulate a real test section.

      For long term supplementation with UWorld over a year, you can indeed subfilter questions. You can pick a section (“Anatomy) and then the subfields you want to draw questions from (“Head and neck”). The options won’t always neatly line up a book chapter or topic, but I’d say it’s a reasonable solution. I don’t recall if other products offer similar filtering or not.

    • Doesn’t look promising, I got the same error. Didn’t see a contact email to find out more either; their social media accounts redirect to a different site, so they may have moved on. I’ll look into it.

  21. Also , not free Q banks but free online classes and seminars ( some upto 4 hrs long ) are available by kaplan centre and .They pick up a topic and teach very interactively presenting with good quality board style questions at the end .Dr. Barone , Dr. Steven daugherty are all there but my all time favourite is an anatomy professor ( forgot his name because he hasnt taken any classes for months now )


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