Poll: kaplan qbank + books: worth it?

We are being pressured mightily to purchase the Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Review, discounted to $999.99. I honestly do not have this in the bank right now, so I would have to buy it on credit. But I would have access to the online materials throughout the first 2 years of med school. AND I am not the sort of disciplined person who can prepare for a standardized test without a program.

What do you guys think? Was it worth it for you?

Honestly, Matt, I think you will find that you have all you can handle just in keeping up with your coursework. It sounds good in theory to have access to all of the Step 1 prep for your first two years, but unless you’re extremely disciplined, I doubt you’ll get much value out of it. I personally paid $400 for nine months of access to Qbank. So far, I have done exactly two sets of 50 questions. Obviously, I will use them a lot more as I get into my month of dedicated Step 1 prep, but I could have saved myself a couple of hundred dollars and just purchased a month of access.

So, I would wait until next year to purchase Kaplan. I would pick up a copy of BRS Physiology and BRS Pathology and/or Goljan Rapid Review Pathology and use them along with your coursework. Many people also buy a copy of First Aid. Most of your Med 3’s have already taken Step 1, so you should be able to get a decent deal on a used 2006 or 2007 copy. People then use the mnemonics in FA and annotate FA with more detailed notes.

Also - there are some new (and cheaper) question bank competitors. Word from people who have used both Qbank and USMLEworld is that they felt the questions in USMLEWorld were more representative of the actual test questions. NBME also makes a fairly large amount of actual test questions available for practce. Most of them are allegedly retired, but several people told me that they saw up to five practice questions on their real test.

In summary, unless you think you are disciplined enough to do at least 50 questions a week, save your money.

Another thing I thought of - find out what your school offers in the way of Step 1 prep. Our school sponsored a variety of different facilitated review programs ranging from a weekly small group session for ~7 weeks led by Med 4s to review lectures on high yield topics presented by various faculty to practice computer based tests.

all good advice. I had all I could handle reviewing my course notes and books. Much as I could appreciate the concept in hindsight, and DO think it would’ve been helpful to use more “steps” resources throughout the two years, I don’t know when I would’ve done it.

I don’t think it’s a deal. It’s not worth a thousand bucks, of that I am sure.


Doing some more thinking on your question . . . you stated that you need a structured program d/t lack of discipline (trust me, I feel you there). The resources that Kaplan is most likely offering you for your $1k are all going to require discipline to use. If you really feel you need a structured program, you would be better off putting that money towards a formalized classroom lecture program during your Step 1 study time (I think they start around $3k).

Also - Kaplan will be back again with a great deal. They will probably show up to pitch materials to the med 2’s here in a month or so, and they will be around next year offering various programs. So, don’t go into debt right now to purchase their “special offer”.

I concur with everything above.

Thanks, you guys, for the tips. I have decided to just review within First Aid during this first year, as each successive exam rolls around and then QBank it sometime in second year.

Tomorrow is our first quiz! In epidemiology.

First AID is plenty and enought trust me. I hated QBank with a passion and the questions seemed NOTHING like step 1. I found that the CD at the end of Dr. Goljan books were much more similar to step 1 questions AND of course the exams you can purchase and take online from NBME.

When it gets closer to time for your exam (like maybe 2-3 months before), if you do want to do some practice question banks, go for the USMLEworld. It is by far, at least according to reports thus far, the most similar to the actual exam (other than the NBME exams).

Anyway, you still have lots of time. For now, stay focused on your classroom learning experiences, and don’t forget to schedule in some relaxation time.