Can you pass Step 1 with UWorld only

Can You Pass Step 1 With UWorld Only?

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Hello, future doctors! Today, we’re talking about something important: Can You Pass Step 1 with UWorld Only? As someone who’s been through med school and is now a medical professional, I’ve got your back.

In this article, we’ll dive into whether using UWorld all by itself is enough for Step 1. I’ll share some smart tips, mistakes to avoid, and answers to common questions. If you’re getting ready for Step 1 and want to know how to use UWorld effectively, you’re in the right place.

Let’s get started on your med school journey!

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What Is UWorld?

UWorld, or UWorld Step 1 Qbank, is a powerful online resource for medical students preparing for the USMLE Step 1 exam. This question bank contains thousands of practice questions meticulously crafted to challenge your knowledge and help you get a solid grasp of the exam’s format and content.

It’s a goldmine of clinical scenarios, with detailed explanations for each question to ensure you understand the why behind the answers. UWorld is a key player in your study journey.

In this guide, we’ll explore how to make the most of this valuable resource.

[Free Download] Want to have everything you need to be a top student on your medical journey? Get FREE access to our Med School Success Handbook to get 60+ tips including the best study, time management, mindset tips you need to be a top student. Download it here. 

Can You Pass Step 1 With UWorld Only?

Let’s address the burning question: Can you pass the USMLE Step 1 with UWorld alone? The short answer is yes, but there’s a “but.”

Using UWorld as your primary study tool is possible, and many students have successfully done it.

However, it’s not a straightforward path. The reason it’s doable is that UWorld is a comprehensive question bank that covers a wide range of topics, making it an invaluable resource for building your knowledge.

But here’s the “but” – you need to ensure you have a strong foundation of medical concepts before you dive into UWorld. It’s not a replacement for the core material you’ve learned during medical school.

Instead, it’s like the final piece of the puzzle to test your knowledge and refine your test-taking skills. I’ll share my insights on how to make this approach work for you.

To succeed in your Step 1 journey, consider supplementing UWorld with other resources. Utilize review books like First Aid, Pathoma, and Boards & Beyond to reinforce your foundational knowledge. These books are like the seasoned teammates who guide you through specific plays and strategies.

Additionally, incorporate flashcards, like Anki, for spaced repetition and efficient memorization. These are like the quick, agile players who keep you sharp and agile on the field.

The message is this: UWorld is a star player, but you need a well-rounded team of resources to tackle Step 1 successfully. It’s a team sport, after all, and assembling the right players ensures a strong performance when the matchday comes.

Now, let’s dive into the specifics of when and how to incorporate UWorld effectively in your Step 1 preparation.

Don’t know when to start using UWorld for Step 1? Check out this video:

When To Start Studying With UWorld

Here’s my suggestion: reserve UWorld for your dedicated study period.

Avoid the temptation to use it too early during your preclinical years. Using UWorld extensively during your first and second years might not be the most efficient strategy.

In your first two years in medical school, you should focus on building a solid foundation in the medical sciences. Imagine it like your basic training. Learn your anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and more. UWorld’s questions are complex and demand this solid foundation.

I’ve often heard students ask, “Can I start UWorld in my second year?”. My response has consistently been that the way you approach your Step 1 preparation during the dedicated period differs significantly from your approach in the initial two years of medical school. Dedicated preparation requires a distinct level of focus and intensity.

But if ever you decide to start UWorld before your dedicated prep, I recommend that you start not earlier than 4 weeks before the dedicated period. For instance, if your dedicated period is set to begin in July, you could consider starting UWorld in June.

Let’s consider the reasons. UWorld is an invaluable tool and closely resembles the actual Step 1 exam. Thus, you don’t want to exhaust all the questions too early, leaving you with limited high-quality practice material during your dedicated study period.

Additionally, UWorld’s effectiveness tends to diminish during subsequent rounds of practice. To add to your resources, there are alternative question banks available that can be beneficial for your Step 1 preparation.

You can explore these question bank options too:

Your best strategy is to pace yourself and assess your own progress. Gauge your knowledge, recognize your weak areas, and set up your timeline accordingly.

Remember, your brain can only hold so much information at a time. You want your UWorld journey to be effective and not a blur of questions. So, save your champion for when you’re fully prepared to spar effectively.

Common Mistakes Students Make With UWorld

Next, let’s dive into common mistakes that students make when using UWorld for Step 1. I’ve been there myself and seen many med students make these mistakes.

My goal is to help you avoid these pitfalls, so you can make the most out of this valuable resource and boost your Step 1 score. Here are some of the most common blunders:

Mistake #1 Not Reviewing Mistakes Thoroughly

One of the most critical aspects of UWorld is learning from your errors. If you merely complete questions and move on without dissecting why you got something wrong, you’re missing a golden opportunity to improve.

Every incorrect answer is a chance to reinforce your knowledge.

This is why when we work with students in our coaching programs, we recommend they keep a running database of their missed questions to avoid the same mistakes on test day.

Mistake #2 Starting UWorld Too Early

As I mentioned earlier, UWorld is most effective when used during your dedicated study period. Utilizing it too soon, like during your preclinical years, can lead to wasted questions and a less productive experience.

Mistake #3 Binge-Questioning

Studying for Step 1 isn’t about how many questions you can complete; it’s about the quality of your practice. Don’t attempt to rush through UWorld.

Instead, use it as a learning tool to reinforce concepts and understand the explanations thoroughly.

Mistake #4 Depending Solely on UWorld

While UWorld is a fantastic resource, relying exclusively on it might not be sufficient. Use it as a core practice bank, but complement your preparation with other materials to ensure a well-rounded knowledge base.

These mistakes are common, but they’re also avoidable. Remember, your goal isn’t to just finish UWorld; it’s to learn from it. Use it strategically, review your errors diligently, and incorporate them into a broader study plan that works for you.

[Free Download] Want to have everything you need to be a top student on your medical journey? Get FREE access to our Med School Success Handbook to get 60+ tips including the best study, time management, mindset tips you need to be a top student. Download it here. 

How To Use UWorld For Step 1

UWorld is a fantastic resource, but it’s not infinite, and it must not be used as a standalone resource. To make the best of it, let’s break it down into manageable steps:

Start Slow

Just like any journey, you need to begin at your own pace. When you first dive into UWorld, you might notice that creating questions or reviewing them is a bit time-consuming. Don’t fret; this is normal.

The goal is to make your questions count. So, kick off by crafting about ten questions per block, with a five-minute break between. With practice, you can gradually increase the number, based on what works best for you.

One Block, One Topic

Each block of questions should focus on a single topic that you’ve already studied thoroughly. If there are areas you’re not confident about or haven’t covered yet, leave them unchecked for now.

You can always come back to these questions after you’ve built a foundation in those subjects with other resources.

P.S. Not sure how many questions a day you should do on UWorld? Click here.

Double-Check Your Questions

Create a mix of tests using both older and newer questions, and explore different modes like tutor, timed, and untimed when generating these questions.

After preparing these tests, it’s crucial to review them thoroughly. This ensures that when you attempt to answer these questions during your study sessions, your learning process remains efficient and without interruptions.

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Thorough Review

As you progress, never skip on the review. Whether you answered correctly or not, writing down notes after each question is crucial.

This practice helps you understand the reasons behind your answers, preventing repeated mistakes. Your notes should be aligned with your learning objectives and include important points presented in the question’s explanation.

Invest More Time Answering UWorld Step 1 Qbank

Remember, UWorld isn’t a memory game. It’s a tool to practice your clinical correlation and analytical skills.

Step 1 demands these abilities. So, give yourself ample opportunities to practice these skills by tackling UWorld questions.

Use UWorld Carefully

You need to be strategic with your use of UWorld. This valuable resource is not only limited but is also not the only player in your Step 1 preparation game.

Start using it during your dedicated study period, about 4-6 weeks before the exam. Using it too early during your first and second years of med school isn’t highly recommended, as you won’t have another resource as potent as UWorld for your dedicated period.

Plus, it’s not as effective to use it too early, as the human brain can only retain so much information over an extended period.

By following these steps, you can maximize the potential of UWorld for Step 1, ensuring that it complements your entire study strategy.

For a more in-depth discussion on how to use UWorld for Step 1, check out this article: UWorld For Step 1: Ultimate Guide

[Free Download] Want to have everything you need to be a top student on your medical journey? Get FREE access to our Med School Success Handbook to get 60+ tips including the best study, time management, mindset tips you need to be a top student. Download it here. 


Now, here are frequently asked questions about UWorld for Step 1:

How Many UWorld Questions Should You Do Per Day?

To begin, it’s best to start with a manageable number of UWorld questions per day, typically around 10 to 20.

This number can gradually increase as you become more accustomed to the material and question format. The key is to maintain a pace that allows for a thorough review and understanding of the explanations provided for each question.

For reference – when I got closer to my dedicated study periord – I was doing about 20-40 questions to get used to larger amounts in one sitting.

How Long Does It Take To Get Through UWorld For Step 1?

The time it takes to get through UWorld largely depends on your personal study schedule. On average, most students dedicate 4 to 6 weeks during their dedicated study period to go through UWorld.

This period typically falls about a month before your scheduled Step 1 exam. However, some students may opt to start earlier, maybe even a few months before, but the dedicated study period is where it’s most crucial.

How Many Times Should You Do UWorld For Step 1?

Generally, completing UWorld once is often sufficient. Your initial pass allows you to identify your weaker areas and build a solid understanding of the content.

However, some students may choose to go through it a second time, particularly if they have more time during their dedicated study period.

If you decide on a second pass, focus on reinforcing your understanding and addressing the topics where you need the most improvement.

I personally went through the material in UWORLD once and then did my missed and marked questions a second time to see them once more.

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Should I Go Through UWorld Twice?

Going through UWorld a second time can be beneficial if your schedule allows it. The second pass should serve as a review and reinforcement of your understanding, with a focus on areas where you might be weaker.

However, the second pass should be approached differently from the first. It’s not about memorization but about solidifying your knowledge and addressing your weak points. Be sure to take your time during the second pass, giving more attention to your specific areas of concern.

How Important Is Your UWorld Score?

While your UWorld score can be a helpful indicator of your progress, it’s essential not to fixate solely on the score. Instead, focus on the learning opportunities UWorld provides.

Pay attention to your mistakes, understand the explanations thoroughly, and ensure you comprehend the underlying concepts. Think of UWorld as a tool for learning, not just assessment.

Your ability to apply what you’ve learned is ultimately more critical than the numerical score you receive.


Remember, UWorld is a powerful tool, but it’s not a solo resource. It’s important to complement UWorld with other resources like First Aid and your school materials.

Start your UWorld journey at the right time, not too early and definitely not too late.

Your path to becoming a doctor is a challenging one, but it’s filled with moments of growth and learning. You’ve got this.

With dedication, smart study strategies, and a good balance of resources, you can conquer Step 1. Best of luck on your journey to medical success!

Whenever you’re ready, there are 4 ways I can help you:

1. The Med School Handbook:  Join thousands of other students who have taken advantage of the hundreds of FREE tips & strategies I wish I were given on the first day of medical school to crush it with less stress. 

2. The Med School BlueprintJoin the hundreds of students who have used our A-Z blueprint and playbook for EVERY phase of the medical journey so you can start to see grades like these. 

3. Med Ignite Study ProgramGet personalized help to create the perfect study system for yourself so you can see better grades ASAP on your medical journey & see results like these. 

4. Learn the one study strategy that saved my grades in medical school here (viewed by more than a million students like you). 

We hope this article helped you understand how you can utilize UWorld for Step 1. If you like this post, you can read our other medical school articles here:

Until the next one my friend…

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