NBME Practice for step one?

Has anyone taken the online practice tests and if you did when did you? Did you feel they helped?

I have 2 months and about 10 days at the moment before my Step one test.

Bill, you’re doing Kaplan QBank, aren’t you? That and First Aid for the Boards were my go-to resources. I did OK (read: a little below the national average, but hey! it was good enough).

The more you can do questions that are similar to the actual Boards, the better. I felt QBank was really a good simulation of the real thing. Just like Kaplan’s MCAT questions, the QBank questions tended to be a little pickier and longer, but all in all a good approximation of the experience.

Good luck!


Thanx Mary

I’m doing the 1st aid q book at the moment and some other Q’s to bone up, these Q’s are general to test my Knowledge or lack of.

I will sign on to Kaplan q bank next month

This month is hard review I think. Unless you all change my mind LOL

I concur with Mary. Kaplan Q-bank was very realistic. My only regret was that I would have focused more on doing practice questiond.

Good luck,


Waaaaaaay back when I was preparing for Step 1, I focused on Kaplan Q-bank, First Aid & a book called Crush the Boards - in that order. I found Q-bank to be an excellent representation for both steps 1 & 2. Despite claims I have heard to the contrary, I cannot imagine you “running out” & having to repeat questions with Q-bank…hell, they must have 9 billion questions in the darned thing!

The only other element you might consider adding & only if you have time & are seeking to add in just a fistfull of additional points…only important if you are trying to land a slot in a competitive program or in a competitive specialty. I used Buzzwords for the Boards only for the last 2 or 3 weeks prior to the exam. No, it really does not teach you diddly-shit. But, for those questions where you are equivocal on a couple of choices or where you have no freakin idea what they are asking - that word association can help you guess more wisely, or so I felt.

How did I do on 1 & 2? Not too shabby - same exact score on both --> 1 standard deviation above the mean or, in English, about the 84th/85th percentile. My raw scores on 1 & 2 were within 1 pt of each other.

Bill -

I’ve heard several people who felt that the NBME questions were worthwhile just to get used to the way they ask the questions. Also - not all of them are retired questions and most people who used them said they recognized at least one question on their real exam as being the same as one on the practice exam, some had several questions that were exactly the same.

Two months to study!!! I wish! I am still finishing up my med 2 coursework and will probably only have around a month to devote to step 1 study.

Good luck!

Amy, a month should be OK. Don’t fret


I personally did not think QBank was representative of the “type” of questions I encountered on Step 1. QBank asks (at least now) very very nitpicky questions about hardcore minutae that IMHO is not the way step 1 questions are. I found the NBME exams that you can purchase online (I did two) to be much more reflective of the “real deal”. I scored almost exactly what I got on my second NBME exams. NBME are excellent predictors of what your USMLE score will be…much more so than QBank (where the averages are abismal). Now, that said, you can certainly “learn” from using Qbank what your weak areas are and go from there but many of us became highly discouraged because our scores were horrible. This can be a huge downer in an already very stressful time. I also found that the CD at the back of the Rapid Review by Dr. Goljan are very very similar to step 1 questions. He focuses on BIG concepts a la third order type questions which was exactly what I found step 1 to be. QBank is plain old regurgitation of minute details that test your ability to recall versus putting “things” together…

I took Step 1 last June (same time as efex) and had a similar experience: I thought Qbank was too focused on minutiae. Many of my classmates had similar experiences.

I did all 4 NBME exams and found them to be very realistic; I actually did slightly better on Step 1 than on the NBME tests. The biggest problem is that you don’t get any detailed feedback, and you cannot review the questions (unless you use “self-paced” mode) or see the answers.

I also did a lot of questions from WebPath, which are free image-based and basic science questions. I thought these were good.

I just got done using USMLE World for Step 2; I abandoned Qbank altogether this year. UW was very realistic. I hear their Step 1 questions are also very good, although I never used them.

The most important things are to build stamina, and get used to the computer-based questions, block after block of them. This alone will help build your confidence and ability to hang on in the 6th, 7th etc. hours of the exam.

I’m doing Web path now I keep plugging away!