One of the biggest surprises in the App Store is the lack of legitimate USMLE study resources. I thought one of the biggest markets in would be medical education. There are a good number of Q-banks available for USMLE studying, but most can’t be accessed on the iPhone. Can you imagine if Kaplan or USMLE World had an app with their Q-banks? I would think this wouldn’t be hard to implement, and I know many people who would jump at the chance to have their personal Q-banks mobile.

Right now the four main players in the App Store are First Aid Q&A series, Lange Q bank, Dr. Conrad’s Disease Deck, and USMLE Wiz Flash Cards. We’ve reviewed the Lange Q bank(step 2 version) and Dr. Conrad’s Disease Deck. These apps will cost you 33 dollars and 20 dollars, respectively. But now you have the USMLE Buzz App crashing this sparse party. The app usually costs $2.99, but is currently on sale for 99 cents. It’s significantly cheaper than the other Q-banks and offers a different type of question answer format.  This review will cover the features of USMLE Buzz along with the best way to use it for USMLE step studying.


When I used this application before it’s recent update the performance was great, but the recent update caused some bugs, which the developer is currently working on. Because of this the app is currently on sale for 99 cents until the new update has been approved by the App Store. The main issue pertains to slower loading times.

The App:

USMLE Buzz contains over 4,000 flash cards related to the Step 1 exam. It covers all the major topics covered on the exam as well: Immuno, Micro, Bio-Chem, Pulm, GI, Hem/Onc, Pharm, Cardio, Embryo, Endocrine, Gross Anatomy, Renal, Neuro, Derm, and more. The flash cards are not the typical “in depth” flash cards you’d find on typical computer based Q banks such as those offered by Kaplan and USMLE World. Rather, these questions are quick one liners pertaining to relevant subject matter for Step 1. I found these quick questions to be high yield and easy to go through.

What I liked:
  • High yield questions, with short and quick answers
  • Huge question database, over 4000 flashcards
  • Can Save/Bookmark cards
  • Can add personal notes to individual flash cards
  • Can delete cards you don’t find useful
  • Search function
  • A free Lite version of the application is available to try before purchasing the full version of the application.

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What I didn’t like as much:
  • Selecting “word” format gives you the answer side of the card and leaves the question side blank until your selection. I didn’t find this helpful at all
  • If your note is too long it can get cut off from the viewing screen
  • The User Interface isn’t very aesthetically pleasing
What could be improved upon:
  • A page with basic instructions on how to best use the application, and giving information on all the basic features.
  • The ability to save question as “correct” and “incorrect”.
  • Quiz mode
  • Pertinent Wikipedia links for the flash cards

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When it comes to USMLE Step 1 studying, the USMLE Buzz Flash Cards App is definitely a legitimate application. These flashcards will by no means replace your computer based question banks and you should use this app as a supplement to your current studying resources. This application isn’t a robust question bank app, such as the more expensive Lange and First Aid Q banks offered on the iPhone. These Q-banks offer extensive answer explanations and added features.

Nevertheless, this study application is different, and is significantly cheaper, usually costing $2.99. The app is currently on sale for 99 cents until the new update is approved by the App Store. I liken this application to the short high yield fast hitting questions found at the end of the First Aid Step 1 Book.

This application is a must have if you have the following two needs:
  1. You want to be able to study in places where you have downtime but no ability to access your computer based question banks, i.e. in the subway, waiting in line, or anywhere on the go
  2. You want a supplemental Q-bank with high yield information, presented in a short and concise form, in the palm of your hand.

Overall, this app is an excellent source to supplement your USMLE step 1 studying and is a much needed addition to the sparse number of USMLE study applications. There are still some kinks that need to get worked out and we’ll be looking forward to future updates of this application.