So you completed the MCAT, got through medical school, and perhaps even graduated at the top of your class. What do you do now with your shiny MD? Before legally practicing medicine, you must pass the USMLE or the United States Medical Licensing Examination.
If you’re eager to get a good score on test day, or even if you’re just aiming to pass, then we have a list of the seven least USMLE prep courses that will have you on your way to being licensed as a doctor.
Compare Top Rated USMLE Courses Below:
In this next section, we’ll go over the top seven options for USMLE Preperation Courses. Some of these courses will prepare you for different steps of the exam, so we’ll mention in the title what step each course covers. These list items are in no particular order as they are all fantastic options for different people depending on your needs.
1. Kaplan USMLE Prep Course (Step 1-2-3)
Kaplan is a juggernaut of exam courses for universities and other higher education institutions. They have prep courses and other prep materials for everything from the SAT, the LSAT, and the USMLE.
Kaplan offers prep courses for all three steps of the USMLE, making it an all-in-one option for getting your medical license. As they also have a course for the MCAT, there is a chance you are already familiar with their system.
One of the first things you’ll notice when signing up for Kaplan is their choice of location. You can take their course in three separate ways, on-demand, live online, or in their New York In-Center.
The on-demand option is the most budget-friendly of the three by far. It is done fully online at your own pace. This is perfect for students who may not have it in their schedules to sit for live classes.
The demand course for step 1 has 1700+ videos and over 330 hours of lectures that cover all of the foundational knowledge that you need. Step 1 also has 3100 quiz questions to practice your skills, seven volumes of lecture notes, and two full-length practice exams.
Step 2 on demand comes with 115+ hours of video, 0ver 600 board-style questions, and over 350+ practice questions about core rotations, along with five volumes of lecture notes and two full-length practice exams. Step three has an additional 100+ hours of videos, 900+ practice questions, a diagnostic exam, and two volumes of lecture notes.
All three steps have the live online option. For this option, you get everything in the on-demand option, but you also get access to live lectures taught by doctors and access to members-only Facebook groups to connect with your peers.
The New York option is the most costly plan, not including travel or housing, but it gives you access to 120 faculty and staff of the New York Kaplan Medical Center. It also comes with one-on-one medical advising, residency planning, and weekly workshops. Only steps 1 and 2 have access to the New York in-person facility.
- Tons of material to work with.
- Price points that work for every situation.
- A choice between on-demand and live.
- Mid-tier comes with a Facebook group to connect with others.
- A comprehensive curriculum
2. USMLE Pass Program Prep Course (Steps 1-2)
If you just want to pass the USMLE exam and aren’t worried about a high grade for your CV, then your best bet is this prep course from Pass Program. According to their website, they have a 90% success rate with over 10,000 students helped.
Pass Program covers both step 1 and step 2 of the exam with a view of different options on how to take the course. For both Step 1 and Step 2, you can take this prep course on demand, live online, and live onsite. For those who want to go all in, you can also get the complete package which includes live online and all of the demand content for both steps.
Step 1 and Step 2 on demand include a course book and access to quizzes and videos. Rather than a one-time price, you can pay a monthly fee for access to the online materials. Pass Program is one of the most affordable options depending on how long you keep your subscription.
The live lecture Step 1 and 2 come with everything that comes with on-demand, along with live online lectures. To further break down the live lecture package, you can choose between a five-week course and a 12-week course.
If you prefer in-person learning, you can sign up for an onsite life package for either steps 1 or 2. The package price depends on your course length (either five weeks or 12 weeks) and if you require housing.
Pros & Cons
- Starts at a very low price point.
- On-demand, live online, and onsite options.
- Complete package option.
- Housing is included in the onsite plan.
- Flexible options
- Some packages can be pricey
3. BoardVitals USMLE Step 1 Prep Course (Step 1-2-3)
BoardVitals specializes in just medical exams, unlike other prep sites, including the USMLE. Board vitals lets you prep for Steps 1, 2, and 3 with various price points and other options. They are trusted by over 2000 institutions and claim to have a 100% pass guarantee, helping over 599K students. The course materials are designed by specialists in the field so that you know you can trust your resources.
One of the rare features we see with BoardVitals compared to other test prep courses is their free trial option. The trial does not require a credit card to sign up and gives you access to select questions so you can get a taste of BoardVital’s style before you sign up for a full plan.
There are three tiers for their paid plans. You can get either Master, Prepare, or Cram.
The lowest option, Cram, gives you access to their review questions, detailed explanations, an exam blueprint, and a mobile app, and a vaccine is donated with every purchase. The Cram option is available for one month.
The Prepare plan gives you access to everything in the Cram plan, with the addition of their 100% pass guarantee, their Ask a Clinician feature, and the option to buy now and use later within the next six months. Prepare lasts for three months.
The Master plan is the same as Prepare except for one difference. Master gives you access to everything for six months.
Pros & Cons
- Free trial
- 100% pass guarantee
- Can pay now can use it when you need it (For Master and Prepare plans)
- Practice test
- Ask Clinician feature
- Costly for offering
- Inconsistent customer service
4. Achievable USMLE Prep Course (Step 1)
Achievable is a course recommended by some of the top universities in the country as a great resource to pass the USMLE. Unfortunately, they only offer Step 1 now, but with their adaptive learning features and low cost, this is likely worth it.
The leading feature of Achievable is their adaptive learning. Their system creates a learning plan based on your brain and how you learn to make a course that is customized to you. As you go through the course, adaptive learning will adjust to update your plan as needed.
Achievable has over 1400 questions for their regular materials for their review tests, along with an online textbook. Their learning platform is also completely modernized to make sense for today’s students.
They recommend taking between 4 and 6 months to prepare for the USMLE to give you the best chance of passing. For more peace of mind, know that this program was made by a physician with ten years of field experience and scored over 250 during her first USMLE.
Pros & Cons
- Created by a physician with ten years of experience who scored over 250 on her USMLE
- Recommended by universities
- Adaptive learning tools
- Modern design
- Weak customer service
- Not flexible for unforeseen circumstances
5. Lecturio USMLE Step 1 Prep Course
Lecturio is another prep course that only offers step 1, but their unique approach to teaching by combining quiz materials and questions into one makes their online course stand out among others. The lecture offers study materials across all medical fields, from doctors to nursing.
To start, Lecturio is another rare option to offer a free version. Not a free trial but a free version. This free option is rather limited, only giving you access to a select library of videos and no access to the Qbank. On the bright side, it does not require a credit card to sign up.
The other tiers are tied up in their medical package, giving you study materials for all your medical board exams. For this reason, they have a wide variety of questions and quizzes to cover everything you may need to know.
All of their tiers offer the same materials, just for a different number of months. Depending on your needs, you can subscribe to their content for 24, 12, or 3 months of study time.
The plans give access to over 6500 medical videos, 5000 board-style questions, 20,000 quizzes, a learning path, 3D models, and a mobile app. The 24 and 12-month options also come with a pass guarantee.
As with most subscription-based services, you will save some money the longer you pay for. This is why the 12-month option is the most popular on their site. If you sign up and decide that the course is not for you, you have ten days to let them know for a money-back guarantee.
Pros & Cons
- Free version
- All plans are the same the only difference is length.
- Quiz questions are included in the bite-sized video content to test materials as you learn them.
- Ten-day money-back guarantee
- Overwhelming amount of content
- UCMLE Step 2 content is les refined than its other offerings
- A complete paywall to full features can be frustrating
6. Uworld USMLE Step 1 Qbank
If videos are not for you, then look no further than Uworld. Uworld Medical is a Qbank with many resources to help you learn your material for the USMLE.
Instead of video lectures, Uworld focuses on providing a top-notch Qback with over 3700 questions. The questions are based on real-life clinical scenarios developed by practicing doctors with many years of experience. The materials are constantly updated to provide the best care.
Their platform is designed to be used anywhere on any device. You can flag questions that stump you, take notes, customize your exams, and set performance goals. There is even a flashcard feature for reviewing the content on the go for the best retention.
Their price plans are based on a subscription service, with additional features added to longer commitment plants. For 30 days, you get access to the full library of questions. For 90 days, you add one self-assessment. For 180, 360, and 730 days you get two self-assessments and a one-time reset of your USMLE question bank.
Pros & Cons
- A mobile app that works everywhere
- Expansive Qbank
- Customizable Quizzes
- Customer service is inconsistent
- App can be clunky
7. SmashUSMLE Prep Course
The smashUSMLE prep course has been ranked as the #1 best self-paced course and offers prep for Step 1 and Step 2 CK. The questions are designed to look like true USMLE questions and are designed by practicing physicians. They have been featured on news programs such as ABC and NBC and have been used by Ivy League medical students.
SmashUSMLE has everything that you might expect in a USMLE prep course. You get access to over 200 hours of lectures and videos, the ability to use the course on any device, such as a computer or mobile device, and an intelligently designed Qbank.
As you use SmashUSMLE, the smart programming will be able to give you a performance analysis based on your Qbank scores. This will give you an idea of how you are doing and where you can improve.
Smash comes in 3, 6, and 12-month plans. For the three-month plan, you get a review course, question bank, flashcards, lectures, full platform access, study plan, lecture notes, and performance analysis.
For the six-month plan, you get everything in the three-month plan plus coaching and a SMART MD VIP membership.
Finally, for the 12-month plan, you get everything in the previous plans by adding test-taking strategies.
They also have another option where you can subscribe to access just the Qbank if you’re not interested in their other features.
Pros & Cons
- Recommended by Ivy League Schools
- Most features are available across all plans.
- The option between full feature plan or just Qbank
- Lackluster curriculum
- Videos quality isn’t great
- Content isn’t as complete as competition
If you’re studying for the USMLE, we hope these seven options will give you a prep course to help you pass the USMLE and be well on your way to becoming a practicing doctor.
Here are a few frequently asked questions about USMLE
If you’re an American citizen, you must be in one of these groups to take the USMLE:
To take USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK, you must be a medical student or graduate of a U.S. or Canadian medical school program that leads to an MD degree and is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). You must be enrolled in or a graduate of an American Osteopathic Association-accredited U.S. medical school that awards a DO degree (AOA).
Before applying for USMLE Step 3, you must have an MD (or its equivalent) or a DO from an LCME- or AOA-accredited U.S. or Canadian medical school and pass Step 1 and Step 2 CK.
Unofficially, some have asserted that among the three parts of the USMLE, Step 1 is the most challenging and significant. And speaking from personal experience, completing Step 1 was among the most difficult exams I had to complete.
Any doctor who wants to practice medicine in the United States must pass each of the examinations required in the United States Medical Licensing Exam® (USMLE) series. Foreign-trained students and doctors take the same exam and are graded using the same criteria as US medical school students.
The maximum number of tries that are permitted for each Step is four (4). Examinees who have attempted any USMLE Step (including Step 2 CS) four times or more but have not passed are unable to apply for subsequent USMLE Steps.
There is no upper age limit for the USMLE. The applicants must be formally enrolled in or a graduate of a medical school outside of the United States and Canada that is listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools as satisfying the requirements for ECFMG eligibility.
A score on the USMLE® Step 1 that falls anywhere between 230 and 245 is regarded to be good, while a score that falls anywhere between 245 and 255 is considered to be very good.