USMLE step 1 studying will soon be in full gear for many second year medical students.  Step 1 is by far the toughest in the USMLE series, and definitely the hardest to study for.  To all second years, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, Step 2 is significantly easier to study for because you’ll feel the information is more clinically relevant, whereas Step 1 has a greater focus on the basic sciences.

With that said, Step 1 Q-banks are an absolute must for every medical student’s study chest.  Trying to pick which USMLE question bank to go with is often the toughest decision to make before your study month.  I’m personally a fan of USMLE World, but they have yet to translate any of their questions to mobile form.  In the past we’ve reviewed several other USMLE study apps, such as Lange’s Q&A Step 2 CK Question Bank, USMLE Buzz Flash Cards, and the USMLE Disease Deck.

Shockingly, there aren’t many USMLE Step 1 question banks to choose from in the App Store, the main two being First Aid and the Lange Q-bank.  Both of these apps are priced at a little over $40 each.  Now there’s another choice, the significantly cheaper and recently released USMLE Step 1 iBank, priced at just $4.99 with 300 questions.  This review will go over the layout of the application, along with a few example questions from this USMLE step 1 app.

Below is the layout of the application.  From this screen you can navigate to all the key parts of the question bank.

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What I Liked:
  • 300 questions for $4.99
  • questions are derived from Wiki Test Prep, a site used by many medical students to study USMLE questions
  • ability to add custom notes to questions
  • ability to save a test and then continue later
  • questions have great explanations
  • nice “results” section after you complete a test, allows you to see sections you’re having troubles in
  • custom test section is helpful

 
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What I didn’t like so much, and what could be improved upon:
  • application can be buggy and crashes at random times
  • this would be difficult to implement, but references to each question would be a nice touch
  • currently can’t select one subject easily  (e.g, biochemistry, pathology, etc) and then get tested on it.  In order to do this you have to de-select all the other sections in the “create custom test” section
  • no horizontal mode
  • need to have a normal lab values button, or inclusion of normal lab values into pertinent questions
  • Only 300 questions, other Step 1 Q-bank Apps cost more, but contain upwards of 1,000+ questions

 
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Question Quality:
  • since many of these questions are derived from Wiki Test Prep, you could try out the questions available on that site (free) and see if you like them before purchasing this app
  • overall, questions are solid and worth the $4.99 investment
  • in the conclusion there are a few sample questions posted

 
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Conclusion:

USMLE Step 1 iBank is definitely a noteworthy application.  Currently it’s the cheapest USMLE question bank in the app store, containing 300 questions for the price of $4.99.  If you want to do the math, that’s about 1.6 cents per question, compared to the other Q-banks, which are upwards of 3 cents per question (e.g. Lange Q&A Q-bank).

Andrew Yu, a medical student, is the creator of this application and says he started developing this app when there were no Q-banks available for the iPhone and while he was studying for Step 1.  He plans on keeping the price relatively the same and will continue to add questions to the application.

 
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If you’re studying for Step 1, this is a great application to have.  It’s cheaper than the pizza you’ll be ordering while you’re studying, and a great way to do mobile studying.  You’ll have a question bank accessible 24/7 right in the palm of your hand.  You can use this application while waiting in line, riding the subway, taking the bus to campus, and if you’re obsessed with studying, even while using the bathroom.

 
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As we’ve touched on in previous reviews of USMLE study apps, this application is no substitute for a dedicated Question bank, such as USMLE World or Kaplan.  Those Q-banks are robust and contain thoroughly reviewed questions similar to what you’ll encounter on test day.  The best way to use this mobile question bank on your iPhone or iPod Touch is as a supplement to your existing comprehensive USMLE Q-banks.

[itunes]

[website]

 
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