UWorld for USMLE STEP 1 and STEP 2 CK

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UWORLD For USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK

In this blog post, I will share the best strategies to use UWorld to study for STEP 1 and STEP 2CK. There are five common decisions that students have to make when using this resource, and what they choose can have a huge impact on their scores.

Is it better to do UWorld Tutor or Timed Mode?

In tutor mode, you solve a question, check the explanation, study the question, and then go to the next question. In timed mode, you finish a block of questions and then see explanations.

I recommend timed mode because the exams are timed. You’ll have multiple blocks of questions that will each be an hour. If you practice for the exam in timed mode, you’ll be practicing for how the exam will feel when you take it. It’s like training for a marathon—you would likely run long distances to train for the marathon rather than training for the marathon by doing 100-meter sprints.

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How many UWorld blocks should I study a day?

I recommend you do 1-2 blocks of questions per day, depending on how many questions you can finish in a day. If you can do 80 questions (2 blocks), you would do those questions in the morning and then take the afternoon to study those questions, read the explanations, figure out how you can improve, and identify potential gaps in your knowledge.

Should I study UWorld Random vs System-based?

My preference is to do system-based questions. If you’re studying a topic, it makes more sense to study related topics together to connect the dots. Studies show that we learn better when we can make connections across material, and making these connections helps with our ability to recall information.

Some might suggest that, since the exam is random, you should study randomly. Studying in the random mode, although similar to the exam, doesn’t help you make those connections between questions in the same system in the studying phase. You will have time to do random-style questions. You can do them when you review UWorld, when you do NBMEs, and when you take practice exams. When you are learning, it makes more sense to do it systematically.

UWorld is a studying question bank. The purpose isn’t to test yourself—it’s to study. If you’re studying, it makes more sense to make those connections. Save the random questions for later.

Should I read vs. study UWorld explanations?

Some students say they complete hundreds of UWorld questions a day. Many of these students are just seeing if they got the question right or wrong, or they are just skimming the explanations.

My advice is to study the explanations carefully. You might know the answer to the question, but the explanation could have more information about the answer that could help you with a question later when you take the real exam. You need to expand your knowledge as much as possible so you can get a higher score.


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Should I read or skip the wrong choices of UWorld ?

Many students don’t look at the wrong choices. If you look at the wrong choices, UWorld will explain to you why the choice is wrong. That could be key to answering a question or eliminating a wrong choice in the exam.

If you’re taking the exam and they give you multiple options and you’re not sure, you might need to differentiate between two similar diagnoses. Reading the information for the wrong choices might help solidify knowledge that will come in handy on the test.

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Should I take notes while studying UWorld?

UWorld is expanding rapidly. There are over 3000 questions in the question bank for each exam. It’s extremely challenging to go through these questions more than once, but it’s also challenging to remember everything from the first round of studying.

You’ll need to have some type of review that makes the information of these questions more manageable, and that is taking notes. Taking notes, however, is not necessarily by writing down notes in a notebook. You can see a video that I made about taking notes for USMLE exams by following this link. And always save time for reviewing your notes.

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Tip: How to take notes

Try to avoid writing down notes. Takes too much time and isn’t efficient. In UWorld, there is a notebook where you can copy and paste information, text, and images. You can organize the information by subject and then go back and review that part of your notebook.

Use flashcards when you can. You can create them through UWorld itself. You can highlight the question and take it to a flashcard and create the specific deck for questions you want to review. These can help you remember tricky concepts.

Choose which questions to review carefully. It can be hard to review 3000 or 4000 questions, but you could flag specific ones for review. If a question is particularly challenging or you thought it was something you should go back to, you can flag it and return to it later. It’s much more manageable to review 400 or 500 questions than the entire question bank.

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You should think of the UWorld question banks as a study material, not a testing material. For that reason, I prefer timed mode with systematic questions. You should pay a lot of attention to the explanation and the wrong choices. Before you begin, think about what kind of study system would work for you (flashcards, flagging questions, notes) so you can review important UWorld materials later.

If you’re struggling with biostatistics concepts, I have a Biostatistics for USMLE course that you can check out here. It includes lessons, practice quizzes, and a specific focus on abstracts.

If you are confused about the USMLE process, we have a course that will take you through every step of the USMLE journey.

Finally, if you’d like to get this information in a video form, check out this link.

I hope this blog post helps you better use UWorld as a study resource and ace both your USMLE STEP 1 and STEP 2 Ck. I wish you best luck on your exam!

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