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 used book store 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 June 2019):
- The NBME offers its own small set of free practice materials for the Steps 1, 2, and 3. You see the most recent set here, which includes a browser-based software version that mirrors the actual program 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 for your offline viewing pleasure. I’ve written answers/explanations to the past several sets, which are linked here.
- Lecturio has made their 2200 question USMLE question bank completely free after registering for a free account. If you’re interested in buying their full-featured video lecture/qbank product, you can get a 25% discount with code hpG6C.
- Pastest is a 2300-question commercial qbank that has a 48-hour free trial.
- WikiDoc has a 696 question board-style USMLE Step 1 qbank. Robust, very nice. Qbank appearance approximates the USMLE Fred software. Totally free but requires a login.
- MedBullets has a 1000+ question Step 1 qbank in clinical vignette style. Registration required, pretty robust software (tutor mode, tracks prior questions, etc).
- USMLE Sapphire is a free online qbank (registration required), currently with 520 questions. Style is more concise/abbreviated/clinical-flashcardy than the real clinical vignettes and the software handles the explanations in an annoying way, but the site keeps your test history, lets you review prior answers (no tutor mode), and pick questions based on subject and body system. Some of the bits I saw were a bit obscure, particularly given its size.
- Osmosis is a completely free big (>5000 question) qbank and video product. Many questions are more on the Step 2 side of things, but an impressive collection nonetheless.
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 is down again] 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 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]
iswas 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.
- MDLexicon has a bunch of vignette questions organized by category, it’s hard to tell exactly how many. The site design is bit odd, but it works.
- 4tests.com 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.
- Learntheheart.com has 50 cardiology USMLE Step 1 questions, with plans to add more.
Enjoy. I can’t vouch for the quality of these resources, but WikiDoc, Lecturio, MedBullets, Sapphire, and Wiki Test Prep together are about 3500 questions, bigger than UW (though assuredly with lots of overlap between sources). Osmosis, a new free player, adds in a lot as well. Add in the past few years of official practice questions (the “Free 150”) and you’ve got even more.
There are also several free questions sources for the MRCP (The UK’s version of the Step), for which there is considerable overlap:
- Confidence (3500 questions)
- MRCP Study
(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.)
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.
You are very, very welcome.
Thank You so much for such helpful info. So many links which inspire and help me feel more prepared.
That was really helpful.
i wont to get a highe score for best matching
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 :)
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.
Thanks for the information! Could never have found it on my own.
I’ll look that path book up :)
if you think of anything else, please let me know!
cheerio for now,
ineed product of kaplan step 1
A very resourcesfull page;great website.
usmle is very useful question format to gain medical knowelge
Thank you very much for your help. Also want to let you know that Wiki Test Prep is no longer available.
Thanks, now noted above.
Thanks a lot Ben,
Your list is very helpful
Keep the good job, be a blessing to others
its very helpful
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.
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.
I enjoyed reading your blog! Thanks for posting such awesome material.
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.
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).
Thanks a lot for this great website!!! It was very helpful for me.
Please if you know any vebsite for the USMLE free exam i will be thankful.
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.
need usmle medical books
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.
Dude I love you <3
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?
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.
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.
Thanx for your generosity.
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?
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 benefit much more from a residency background.
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.
Generally, I would continue with questions and supplement with book reading on a per-topic basis as needed.
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.
Thanks for the reply, Ben. I really appreciate it.
Hi Ben ,
I was excited to discover this website through you .However it does not let me access after I make my username and password .It gives an odd message that ” user cannot edit his own profile “.
It did not ask for a profile .
You think they have discontinued their bank ?
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.
The site is back up now
Also , not free Q banks but free online classes and seminars ( some upto 4 hrs long ) are available by kaplan centre and becker.com .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 )
There are lots of USMLE Step 1 questions at http://www.latisom.com
But they’re not free.
2010 USMLE.ORG Question. Confucing answer choice
11. A 10-year-old boy is severely burned. Nitrogen loss occurs during the first few days after the burn. During this acute period, which of the following substances plays a major role in nitrogen loss?
(D) Parathyroid hormone
(E) Thyroxine (T4)
Is the correct answer (A) Cortisol or (E) T4?
(A) When the body is stressed, physiologically or pathologically, cortisol (option A) is produced in greater quantities than normal. In this case, severe burns is the stressor which would lead to an increase in cortisol. As a glucocorticoid, cortisol will increase protein catabolism which will increase nitrogen loss.
(E) Thyroxine (option E) released by the thyroid plays a part in increasing metabolic rate but would not specifically be involved in protein catabolism and thus nitrogen loss.
Answer is A. Cortisol changes rapidly with stress (thinks stress dosing for people with adrenal insufficiency when sick, for surgery, etc). Thyroid hormone production doesn’t change rapidly and wouldn’t be expected to change metabolism significantly within this time period, and as you pointed out, doesn’t have as direct an effect on catabolism as cortisol.
(Summarized for your particular question)
P: 4 obese patients
I: Cortisol IV alone vs IV Cortisol + epi + glucagon
C: Measured indicators of glucose usage (production/flux/excretion) AND nitrogen flux (some individual amino acids, but main measure was urinary nitrogen loss)
O: Nitrogen loss was quicker to rise with all 3 counter-regulatory hormones, but reached the same level in both groups within 3 days. Thus, the authors concluded that the sustained nitrogen loss was almost entirely explainable by the effect of cortisol alone.
USMLEQuickPrep is functioning!
Thanks for the heads up!
Thank YOU for such a useful review
Don’t forget USMLE Sapphire (www.usmlesapphire.com)
Thanks for the heads up
Why does Sapphire need my phone number before I even know the value of their services? Seems lame to me, especially since on their qbank landing page, they say (I am copying/pasting, the typo is theirs):”Create an Account.
or SIGN IN, to access advanced features.
* all fields are manditory.”
Lots of confidence in this corporate link ;)
Silly but probably not nefarious, I think. I got the impression it was made by an individual, hence probably not well proofed and containing mistakes. Regardless, I always give fake phone info online. No website I use needs to call me!
Thanks! starting prep soon and this is really helping!
Good Morning to Ben and all,
I am looking for the advice on whether to start studying USMLE or not?
I have been graduated from a Medical University from oversea on 2003. After completion residency, I have worked for one years in a hospital. Then, I have joined one of the international agencies to support them in public health and later on, involved in other development issues, out of my professional field.
Now, I am in the US with family (three kids and spouse). Even the resettlement is not easy, however, we’ve adjusted for a simple life.
I want to go back to my medical profession field, and don’t know, can I pass this tough pathway or not? I need your kind advice and your experiences.
I wish I had more to say on this for you. The question is basically as difficult to answer as it would be for someone who wanted to apply from scratch. A lot of college students ask if trying to be a doctor in the US is worth it. And the only correct response is: “only if you think it is.”
Given the content of that exam and the length of time it’s been since you finished school, you’ll definitely have a ton to learn. If you’re not sure, give yourself a couple months to study no pressure and take a practice test or two. See how it feels and go from there.
The links to 2015, 2016 and 2017 sample items are not accessible. I get the message “Internal server error. Page cannot be displayed”. Please check them.
That’s because the NBME eventually removes them. If you want to access to something old, you can always do so from an archived cache such as from archive.org. I’ve gone ahead and updated the pages with archived links, thanks for the heads up.
thank you very much Mr Ben
This info was very helpful ultimately ending my Qbank hunts.
SHARED WITH ALL MY FELLOW COLLEAGUES AND THEY APPRECIATE IT .
Hello Mr.Ben White,
Can you do an explanation for the 2018 USMLE step 1 published in February 2018? I know a lot of them overlap. so maybe just do the new questions… Thanks so much.
Yep, they’re up now (for Step 1)
and also do an explanation of step 3 ..
Hi Dr. White,
Do you by any chance have explanations to NBME practice 17, 16, 15? If not, I can pay for your time to do explanations just like you did for the Free 150, perhaps with a bit more details. You can also share them with others; I do not mind. Please let me know. You may also contact me in person via my email.
I don’t, sorry. I’ve thought about it, however, it’s really an issue of time and motivation more than money.
I’m sure this information will be useful for any student who is appearing for medical exams. Many thanks.