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UWorld QBank for Step 1? 4 Criteria to Help You Decide 

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by Yousmle Staff in Reviews

“Knowledge is of no use unless you put it into practice”- Anton Chekhov. When it comes to exams as crucial as the USMLE Step 1, you must ensure that you put your knowledge to the best use by practicing questions.

A QBank should serve as a tool for question-solving, encouraging a deep understanding of concepts. It should also familiarize candidates with essential approaches to tackle these questions. And, to do so, you need a QBank that empowers you with the tools to overcome the real challenge. QBanks are a great resource to help you prepare for the USMLE Step 1. Keep reading to know if the UWorld QBank is worth your time.


  • The UWorld QBank boasts of excellence in terms of its breadth, retention, and application. However, some students may find it daunting to go through the QBank in full.
  • Its NBME mode provides an interface very similar to the actual test.
  • Additional features, such as integrated flashcards and notebook-making facilities, set it apart.
  • A bit on the costly end when comes to subscription price – $559 for a year.
  • UWorld Step 1 QBank Rating:
    • Overall: 4.5/5
    • Depth – 5/5
    • Breadth – 4.5/5
    • Retention – 4/5
    • Application – 4.5/5

Table of Contents

UWorld is considered to be the holy grail of all Step 1 QBanks. But is it so? Let’s try to find out. Yousmle has already reviewed the AMBOSS QBank and the Kaplan QBank. Continue reading as we delve deeper into the specifics of the UWorld QBank by evaluating it on four key criteria:

  • Breadth–Does the QBank provide a wide enough range of high-yield topics testable on the USMLE Step 1?
  • Depth–Does the QBank dig deep enough into the basics and help you master the concepts?
  • Retention–Does the QBank leverage tools and techniques to help you retain stuff?
  • Application–Do the learnings from the Qbank assist in applying concepts and strategies during the actual test?

UWorld Step 1 QBank

Quick facts:

  • Nearly all medical students use UWorld QBank for their Step 1 preparation.
  • More than 3700 questions for Step 1 as of July 2023
  • Meticulously designed figures accompany most questions in the QBank. They are integrated into explanations, thus providing clear explanations for complex medical concepts.
  • The QBank offers a range of additional features that set it apart, including Flashcards, a personalized electronic notebook, and detailed performance analysis.

Breadth: 4.5/5 

  • Pros:
    • More than 3700 questions sufficiently cover almost all the high-yield topics for Step 1.
    • Subscribing to the QBank gives you access to self-assessments that closely resemble the real test.
    • The Biostatistics and the Behavioral Science sections are especially great. These are the sections IMGs tend to struggle with the most.
    • More than 800 questions in pathology and more than 500 questions in pathophysiology, both of which are disciplines with concepts highly tested in Step 1.
  • Cons:
    • Some explanations are very extensive, making it hard for students to go through them.
    • Some students find it challenging to go through the QBank in full as there are more than 3700 questions to go through.

The tables below showcase the number of questions in UWorld Qbank, categorized by disciplines and topics tested on the USMLE Step 1, and arranged in descending order. The disciplines and topics with the highest number of questions appear first on the list.

DisciplineNumber of Questions
Behavioral Science262
TopicNumber of Questions
Cardiovascular System 428
Nervous System 410
Gastrointestinal & Nutrition 316
Infectious Diseases 275
Pulmonary & Critical Care 268
Hematology & Oncology 238
Renal, Urinary Systems & Electrolytes 233
Endocrine, Diabetes & Metabolism 220
Psychiatric/Behavioral & Substance Use Disorder180
Rheumatology/Orthopedics & Sports 173
Biostatistics & Epidemiology 121
Social Sciences (Ethics/Legal/Professional)117
Allergy & Immunology 112
Dermatology 102
Female Reproductive System & Breast 81
Biochemistry (General Principles) 69
Genetics (General Principles) 63
Pregnancy, Childbirth & Puerperium 59
Male Reproductive System 52
Pharmacology (General Principles) 48
Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT)43
Pathology (General Principles) 41
Poisoning & Environmental Exposure 35
Ophthalmology 31
Microbiology (General Principles) 30
Miscellaneous (Multisystem) 23

Like the AMBOSS QBank, UWorld QBank does not give you references to review resources such as First Aid which is available in the Kaplan QBank.

The UWorld QBank provides a wide range of questions that cover almost all topics tested on the USMLE Step 1. However, some students find it challenging to go through the whole QBank. So, we would give it a 4.5/5 in terms of breadth.

Depth: 5/5 

  • Pros:
    • The questions are well crafted such that the vignettes resemble actual patients and sometimes resemble questions on the actual exam.
    • The explanations are more detailed than you may find in any other QBank. The explanations not only give you reasons for there being a particular answer but also explain the incorrect options in great detail.
    • The Options are explained so nicely for every question that you would seldom miss it in other questions if you went through the options nicely.
    • The explanations focus on concept building rather than mere rote memorization.
    • Figures and images in this QBank literally speak more than words ever could. Some explanations have nice videos too.
  • Cons:
    • Some of the questions in the QBank are too difficult and not relevant to the topics tested in Step 1.

Dr. Palmerton has written a helpful article covering the rules NBME question-writers use to create exam questions. We know question-writers use language and different question stems to assess understanding rather than memorization.

UWorld dives deeper into explanations for not just the correct options but also the incorrect ones. The explanations help you build solid foundations and allow you to master several questions from one question. Remember, each incorrect option can be a correct choice in another question. The explanations for why an answer choice is incorrect are pretty good in UWorld. In terms of depth, we would like to give UWorld a clear win with 5/5.

Highlight whatever you want with whichever color you want

UWorld allows you to highlight not just the question stems, but also the explanations. Some students like to use the ‘intentional highlighting system’ (highlighting stuff in a color-coded way) to boost their memory retention. It could come off as a really cool feature for such students.

Adapted from the UWorld QBank demo available via the official website.

Retention: 4/5

  • Pros:
    • The Add to Flashcard feature allows you to make flashcards while you are reviewing question blocks. You can add anything to your flashcard ranging from text to images right from the UWorld question explanations and make your own decks.
    • The Add to Notebook feature enables you to create a personalized electronic notebook to organize almost anything you want.
    • Highlight not just the question stems but also the explanations in as many as five different colors.
    • Innovative explanations in the form of figures help you master the concepts without the need for memorization
  • Cons:
    • Does not let you directly take content out of UWorld (text can’t be copied) onto other platforms such as Anki.

Mastering the concepts of the basic sciences is definitely the thing to do for USMLE Step 1. However, the retention of high-yield information and facts is also pivotal. ‘Understand and then Learn’ is how it goes.

Both the Kaplan and the AMBOSS QBanks do not have an integrated flashcard-making tool, which the UWorld QBank has. Additionally, the electronic notebook feature and the option to highlight question explanations. Given all this, the UWorld QBank outscores both the QBanks with a score of 4/5.

Integrated flashcard-making facility

A lot of students prefer spaced repetition through flashcards for long-term retention of information. UWorld now allows students to create flashcards using their own content or UWorld explanations.

Adapted from UWorld QBank demo available from the official website.

Integrated notebook feature for making your notes

Some students prefer taking digital notes as they go through question explanations. This feature helps students capture relevant information in the form of notes that can be organized by topic or discipline, with options for highlighting and editing to customize your notes.

Adapted from UWorld QBank demo available from the official website.

Application: 4.5/5

  • Pros:
    • Has two modes- NBME and UWorld. The NBME mode allows you an interface very similar to the one on the real test, giving you a close feel of the real exam.
    • Has two modes of solving question blocks- tutor and timed mode. Timed mode allows you 90 seconds for each question similar to what is followed on the real test.
    • The feature to highlight important points on the question stems trains you to identify the important stuff needed to solve the question, essentially training you to find the ‘needle’ in the ‘haystack’ of information.
    • Has a great store of Biostatistics questions with crisp explanations which are unlikely to be seen in other QBanks.
  • Cons:
    • A few questions test the basic sciences way too deeply and are excessively difficult and unlikely to appear on the Step 1 exam.
    • Like any other review resource, UWorld Qbank does not simulate the USMLE exam experience as well as NBME tests.

UWorld’s carefully crafted questions and explanations encourage a deeper understanding of the concepts, ensuring that you don’t just memorize facts, but comprehend the underlying principles. Unlike other QBanks that rely on buzzwords, UWorld takes a different approach. It challenges you to truly understand and interpret each question, honing your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This kind of preparation isn’t just for acing Step 1–it’s for thriving throughout your entire medical career.

UWorld Step 1 QBank Pricing

It’s a bit costly for sure, costing you around $439 for 90 days, $479 for 180 days, and $559 for a year. They have a separate Biostatistics review subscription which costs $25 for 90 days of access and provides you basically the biostatistics and epidemiology questions. With an overall score of 4.5/5, UWorld beats AMBOSS and the Kaplan QBanks.

Conclusion – Overall Rating: 4.5/5

The UWorld QBank is an excellent QBank overall. No doubt so many medical students use it in preparation for the USMLE Step 1. The integrated flashcard-making tool allows you to create flashcards right out of UWorld content while you are reviewing your question blocks. You can also create and organize notes in your electronic notebook which can come in handy while doing revision, especially during the dedicated period of your preparation.

Want FREE Cardiology Flashcards?

Cardiology is key for impressive USMLE scores. Master cardiology from a Harvard-trained anesthesiologist who scored USMLE 270 with these 130+ high-yield flash cards. You’ll be begging for cardio questions - even if vitals make you queasy.