USMLE Step 1 Question Banks: UWorld vs Kaplan vs BoardVitals

Are you getting ready to take your USMLE Step 1 exam? We get asked all the time about how the BoardVitals Step 1 Question Bank compares to UWorld and Kaplan’s, so we talked to a few MDs to get the inside scoop.

The Step 1 exam is a one-day, 8-hour exam, divided into seven 60-minute blocks. The number of questions per block varies, but never exceeds 40, which would suggest that timing is not the biggest problem, but is something everyone should take into account. The total exam has at most 280 questions and allows test-takers to jump around to answer questions on their own accord.

There are so many different products, each with their own pros and cons, available to students, how do you know what is the best for you? We’ve got a detailed comparison of major USMLE Step 1 question banks to consider just for you. Check out what Kaplan, UWorld,and BoardVitals has to offer.

Interested in the comparison for USMLE Step 2CK or USMLE Step 3? Check out our other blog posts.


Oftentimes, board review study guides try to mimic the same experience found on the actual exam. While the software itself is not exactly like the real exam, the format of the questions are, and BoardVitals presents its examination blocks in either a “timed” or “review” mode. This allows users to practice time management that will be required in the exam. Review mode allows you to see the explanation and correct answer for each question immediately after answering it. Additionally, this Qbank includes audio questions which are a component of the exam. Explanations are provided for correct and incorrect answers in order to cover all topics relevant to the USMLE exams.

Additional Features

  • Users can create exams made up of an unlimited number of questions if they wish, to do an uninterrupted set of questions. This feature is very helpful if a student wishes to review all the questions in a topic at the same time. “This is a great way to build one’s stamina, especially since the actual exam is 8 hours long,” Akindele said.
  • The more you use the Qbank, the more it learns about your strengths and weaknesses. It will even suggest categories individualized to each student.
  • Users can share a question with another student or professor for discussion. In addition to this, a “send exam” feature is available for faculty at institutions that use BoardVitals, and this allows them to send exams to the students for reviews or assessments.
  • A user can go over all the questions again by deleting the completed exams, that way, they’ll be able to reuse all the questions in the bank easily.
  • BoardVitals provides users with study tips and other great pieces of information on their blog.
  • For each new customer, BoardVitals donates one vaccine to children in need as part of their philanthropic initiative: #GiveVax.
  • Mobile app available.
  • The “Vital Concepts” section includes a summary of key teaching points tested in each question for further review of subjects tested on the exam.