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Review: USMLE World Step 1 Q-bank

Basics of the USMLE World Step 1 Question Bank

USMLE World has been a rapidly growing USMLE step 1 test prep option. It has a good sized bank of questions, more than 2000, distributed across all the important disciplines tested.

At $135 for 2-months of access, this product is positioned between the inexpensive review books and the substantially more expensive live review courses.

User interface

The USMLEWorld Q-bank interface is designed to mimic that of the real computer based step 1, so it locks out other functions on the computer, gives you access to normal lab values, a simple calculator, allows you to mark questions, and has a place for notes on each question. In general the system worked well without bugs.

One slightly irritating feature is that you must have a live internet connection to use the system. While this isn't a deal breaker, it does mean you can't take your laptop any old place to study. And if your wireless router or ISP gives out, you're S.O.L.

The one interface issue that really didn't work well was the auscultation files. Unless you play the sounds through headphones in a quiet room you can't hear a thing. It would be nice to be able to play the sounds through standard computer speakers.

Quality of USMLE Step 1 practice questions from USMLEWorld

In general the quality of the questions and answers was very high, although several topics did repeat. For example, Hepatitis B was covered multiple times, with almost the same answer blocks for each question. Similarly, hydrochlorothiazide and its effect on K+ and Ca2+ was covered multiple times. While these topics are important, it seemed a little overkill and other topics got less attention than they would otherwise.

Any question bank this large will have errors in it, but the number of errors we found was relatively small. Based on the errors we found, less than 1% of questions have errors - and those that do are clear either because the figures don't match the explanation, or the explanation doesn't make sense.

The explanations of correct and incorrect answers are throrough and informative. I also found the images of good quality. One example that sticks out is a light microscopic image of blastomycosis, which would have been unrecognizable if you had to rely only on the line drawing in First Aid for the USMLE Step 1.

Relevance to the real USMLE Step 1

I've spoken to several students who used USMLE World question bank and found that its questions mirrored the type and content of questions that appeared on Step 1. In particular two students who scored in the 230+ range used this question bank along with First Aid as their main study resources (supplemented with micro and pharm flashcards and Robbins Pathology).

USMLEWorld Step 1 Q-bank Summary

The USMLE World Step 1 Q-bank is a good value at $135 for 2-month access, with high-quality questions and answers and a reliable interface.

USMLEWorld Step 1 Q-bank

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