The road to becoming a licensed physician is paved with intense exams. To receive your license to practice medicine in the US, you first need to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examinations (USMLE) Step Exams, which are sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Boards and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).
There are three Steps for a total of four exams (Step 2 has two exams). The Step 1 Exam is generally taken after your second year of medical school. It is multiple-choice and designed to test your problem-solving skills. It will ask you to interpret materials, diagnose symptoms, and determine the proper course of action. The exam has 270 questions broken into seven sections. You will have 60 minutes to complete each section over a period of 8 hours.
It is extremely important to do well on your Step 1 Exam as many elite Residency programs use it as one of their selection criteria. There are several different USMLE Step 1 Prep Courses to help you prepare for your exam ranging from full immersion classes that last 4 – 8 weeks to self-paced online courses. To help you pick the offering that is ideal for you, we have reviewed and selected the 10 Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Courses on the market for 2017-2018.
- Best Live Streamed Classes
- Online Study Materials: $549 – $799
- Self-Paced On-Demand Study: $1999 – $3999
- Live Online Classes: $3999
Industry powerhouse Kaplan understands how to deliver top-notch classes for high stakes test prep, and they don’t disappoint with their USMLE Step 1 prep courses. They offer a wide range of options to meet different needs and budgets. They are at the top of our Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Courses list though because of their live, interactive online classes.
Their online course includes 270 hours of live lectures given over a 14-week period. Lectures are half-day, which is a great option when you have other obligations. Most other live USMLE Step 1 prep courses we reviewed have full day classes.
Their live-streamed classes are the best we’ve seen in any high stakes test prep course. With Kaplan’s technology, you can raise your virtual hand to questions. Off-camera instructors, who are licensed MDs, will answer your questions during class, giving you the instant clarification you need, just like in a traditional classroom. You are also assigned a personal Academic Medical Advisor, who serves as your mentor throughout your course. Your Advisor will answer questions, offer additional study resources, and help keep you focused and motivated during your course.
Kaplan includes nine discipline assessments, a mid-term exam, and a final exam. They also offer two simulated USMLE Step 1 Exams to help you practice for the intense timed environment of the real thing.
You can also access additional online resources, including video lectures and a Question Bank that is available on your mobile device, allowing you to study on the go. We also liked that they have an online community (accessed through a closed Facebook group) where you can go for questions, study tips, test taking strategies, and encouragement.
Kaplan understands it might be challenging to devote a great deal of time to scheduled classes. Their on-demand course includes all the same online resources found in their live online course, but you can study the material and watch the 200 hours of video lectures at a time most convenient for you. Their online interface is a great use of technology. You can flag videos or take notes on individual video clips. These resources are accessible from your mobile device as well.
While Kaplan does offer live classes in their testing centers, their live online course really makes them stand out above the other USMLE Step 1 prep courses. Overall you can’t go wrong with Kaplan. They are an industry leader for a reason. They simply deliver outstanding test prep materials.
- Best In-Person Classes
- Self-Paced Online Course: $797 – $1497
- In-Person Classes: $2967 – $2997 (Does not include room/board)
The USMLE Success Academy comes in a close second on our Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Courses list. They offer both in-person and online prep options, but it is their outstanding classroom curriculum and dedicated instructors that make this course stand out from the other USMLE Step 1 prep courses we reviewed.
The USMLE Success Academy offers a 4-week intense course in their Schaumburg, IL training center. They keep class sizes small to offer a more personalized experience. Their course includes a full diagnostic exam on the first day to determine your weak areas. They then build a personalized study plan to help you improve those areas. They have daily assessments, weekly tests, a final exam, and two practice exams developed by the NBME. These assessments are a great way to know if you are really mastering the material. In addition to their regular curriculum, they offer daily test-taking strategy sessions to help you develop the skills you will need to do well on your exam.
USMLE Success Academy also offers an online course option where you can study at your own pace. This course includes over 95 hours of video lectures, quiz questions, and practice exams. You will have access to a licensed MD via email for support and advice throughout your course.
While researching the best USMLE Step 1 prep courses, we found many students who raved about the motivational support they received from the USMLE Success Academy, even in the online course. We always like to talk to happy students! This showcases the high-quality staff at the USMLE Success Academy, who are dedicated to helping you achieve great marks on your exam. They boast a 99% student success rate, which is the highest standard we found in any USMLE Step 1 prep course. They also offer a money-back guarantee.
If you are looking for a fully immersive USMLE Step 1 prep course, the USMLE Success Academy is the best option for you.
- Offers the most flexible classes
- Self-Paced Online Course: $590 – $1590
- Live Online Classes: $2090 – $4290
EduMind has teamed up with the Pass Program to bring you live online and on-demand courses. They earn a top place in our Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Courses list because of their flexible live online course options. You can start your course at any time, even halfway through a standard session. You will make up the missed classes in the next session (sessions run continuously). This is a tremendous help with fitting a USMLE Step 1 prep course into your already busy schedule. You can also access recorded lectures and on-demand videos in case you miss a class.
Their live online classes include test prep strategy sessions, practice exams, and additional online study resources including flashcards and interactive quizzes. They also offer an on-demand course that includes video lectures, individual tutoring options, and email support from a licensed MD for questions. Their on-demand course actually includes access to their live test taking strategy sessions that are part of their live online course, which is a great feature. These sessions will help you develop the test taking skills you need to get a high score on your exam.
The Pass Program also offer live in-person USMLE Step 1 prep courses. You can find a list of dates on their website.
- Most Comprehensive Materials
- Self-Paced Course: $99 – $299
- Live Online Classes: $3599
- In-Person Classes: $3699 not included room/board
Becker Professional Education offers a tremendous amount of materials to help you fully prepare for the USMLE Step 1 Exam. Most of their course options include seven volumes of full color textbooks and review notes that focus only on the subject matter covered in the exam, which helps you focus only on the information you need to pass.
They have an impressive and user-friendly online platform that includes 220 hours of video lectures, which you can flag and annotate to highlight the information relevant to you. They also offer a question bank with over 2100 USMLE Step 1 practice questions. Their online platform is available on a subscription basis in their self-paced course for as little as $99 for 1 month, making it a very reasonable option if you are on a budget. People taking their 7-week in-person class or 10-week live online course can access this platform for 9 months following the end of their classes.
If you like to have a lot of review material, the Becker course is a great option for you to prepare for your USMLE Step 1 Exam.
- Best Self-Paced Course
- Monthly Subscriptions: $395 – $1295
Smash USMLE made our list of Best USMLE Prep Courses because of the effective study materials included in their online platform and the support they offer their students. Their course includes over 250 hours of on-demand video lessons accessed through a user-friendly interface. What makes their platform great is how they use technology to work on your weak areas. They have over 2000 practice questions. Their online tool analyzes your answers, both in what you answered and how long it took you. Based on the data, they determine your weaker areas and direct you to additional study tools to help you improve. You can have your questions answered via email from their supportive staff.
You might have some anxiety about the USMLE Step 1 Exam because it is timed. Smash USMLE offers a practice test that is timed, which simulates the real exam. This is a great way to build your confidence. Their course is also available on your mobile devices, which helps you fit studying into your busy life.
Smash USMLE boasts a 97% pass rate. If you are looking for a good self-paced course that offers results, this course is a great option.
- Good for repeating the USMLE Step 1 Exam
- In-person classes (does not include housing):
- 4 Week Course: $3300
- 6 Week Course: $5600
- 8 Week Course: $6100
Wolfpacc offers live courses at their training facility in Florida where they focus their curriculum on mastering basic concepts. Their study plan then builds on your growing knowledge base to tackle more complex concepts. With their methodology, they are teaching you to do more than just pass the USMLE Step 1 Exam. They strive to help you master the concepts being tested, which is far more useful for your medical career.
The Wolfpacc methodology makes this a great course if you have already taken the USMLE Step 1 Exam and didn’t get the results you wanted. Wolfpacc also customizes their study plans based on your individual needs, which is determined through initial assessment and ongoing tests. Their course includes weekly individual tutoring sessions, which again showcases the individualized nature of the course. If you’ve tried other courses and found that you weren’t learning the things you needed, Wolfpacc is a great option for you.
- Best Course for Test Taking Skills
- In-Person Classes (prices include housing):
- 3 Week Course: $3990
- 5 Week Course: $5990
- 9 Week Course: $9990
USMLEagle offers in-person workshops from their training facility in Florida. A great feature about their course is that they include housing in their fees. We also like that they keep their classes small so they can offer more personalized attention. The course fee includes personal tutoring, which in another nice benefit of their course. They made our list of Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Courses though because of their focus on preparing you mentally for the USMLE Step 1 Exam.
USMLEagle courses include sessions on building test taking skills and strategies. They also offer sessions on dealing with anxiety and stress management that come with taking this type of high stakes test. These types of skills are extremely important to have, as anxiety can destroy confidence, which will hurt your performance on the exam. They do a great job in making a structured class feel completely personalized to meet your individual needs.
- Great for Taking Practice Tests
- Monthly Subscriptions to Online Platform: $59 – $179
Board Vitals is focused on one thing – practice, practice, practice! After all, practice does make perfect! The Board Vitals online platform offers over 1600 practice questions covering all areas of the USMLE Step 1 Exam. They include a timed testing feature, so you can practice answering questions in a timed environment like what you will experience on exam day. All questions include detailed explanations so you will understand why you got a question right or wrong.
Another interesting feature with Board Vitals is that their technology will personalize your questions based on your performance. If you demonstrate that you are weak in certain subjects due to incorrect answers or the time it took you to answer the question, the platform will offer more questions on that subject to help you improve. Board Vitals is reasonably priced, making it a great option if you just want to take practice tests or if you want to supplement other USMLE Step 1 prep courses.
- Good for Personal Tutors
- Tutoring Package Rates: $500 – $7400
If you learn best from a Personal Tutor, Med School Coach is the ideal USMLE Step 1 prep course for you. They completely customize the curriculum based on your individual needs, which are determined through an initial assessment session. Your Personal Tutor will develop a personalized study plan. They not only teach you, they will keep you motivated throughout your studies. Med School Coach also allows you to record your tutoring sessions so you can go back later to review. You can expect to meet with your tutor 1 – 2 times per week for 2 hour sessions. We also like that they guarantee your success on the USMLE Step 1 Exam.
- Good Study Guides
… and finally, keep in mind that sometimes it is good to go straight to the source. USMLE itself offers various free online resources including outlines, study guides, and practice tests. These are useful free resources to help you prepare or they can be used to supplement another USMLE Step 1 prep course form our list. Good luck!