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First off, I want to state that – while not being a paid member of Amboss staff – I do have a disclosure to admit. Since my original post regarding the subjective and objective reasons I chose Amboss over some of the other wonderful board review Qbanks out there, I have been in contact with some of the staff. They appreciated the honest review, and offered a little benefit for myself and anyone viewing this article. I agreed to share this gift to all of you, as long as the review would be completely of my own making. They agreed, and nothing within this review has been influenced by any staff of Amboss. Here is our official Amboss review.
For your end of the gift, please continue reading (no cheating and skipping to the end!).
This is the money, IMHO. In the past, when I received an incorrect answer on a Qbank and it wasn’t clarified enough by the answer choice comments, I would then have to scour my notes or Dr. Google to find an adequate explanation. Those times are behind me (and possibly you!). Each answer choice has key words underlined with popup info boxes and/or hyperlinks to their Learning Cards. These give you the entire run-down of the topic, from epidemiology and pathology to diagnosis and treatments. All with citations. Though some other services have similar types of ideas, and I haven’t tried EVERYTHING out there, none have come close to the completeness and organization of the Learning Cards. Other friends and classmates that have used services I haven’t, have also stated the uniqueness and benefit of this tool.
I’ve heard it compared to a mix of UWorld and MedBullets. In my experience, the Learning Cards are much more complete than MedBullets and other bullet-style resources, plus include great images, videos, and other resources in a very complete review. You can also save Favorite Learning Cards to review later in bulk.
Quality Questions & Explanations
Alright, so UWorld has been touted for years as being the “most similar” to the NBME and Step exams. I agree that they are pretty close (compared to some others), but I’m not sure of a great way to objectively compare: especially when my brain is too fried after an exam to know where I am, let alone what questions I just answered! So I am going to give my two cents on the quality of Amboss based on my experiences with UWorld, the NBME/Step exams, and other qbanks I have used.
Amboss is difficult. It is arguably (and probably empirically) more difficult than UWorld. The average question length appears to be longer, and the average question choices are A-H instead of A-E. This can be stressful at first, especially with timed Exam Simulator running. However, this may be a good thing. It will train you to better utilize your time on the real exam, and the added difficulty may be a great tool to boost your game before test time. Each quiz is also ended with a suggested Learning Cards list to review the material you answered incorrectly, and has a significant answer explanation.
The percentage chosen for each question (that displays after you make your choice, similar to UWorld) demonstrates that there is a bit of a learning curve. There are many questions that only 20-40% of students have gotten correct. However, this is also likely due to the free trials that have been given out like candy for months. Not everyone utilizing the qbank is actually at a stage in their studies they would get these questions correct. I’m not sure if Amboss (or UWorld for that mater) has ever, or plans to ever, reset their counter. Use this as encouragement if you get an answer right that only 30% of other students also answered correctly.
Needless to say, as a newer and still growing company it is not perfect. I’ve even run into a time or two when the original German word was displayed instead of English (Amboss began in Germany so they are not new to the medical resource game, just in the USA). However, they have several ways to contact them, and to suggest changes on the community forum. More on that to come.
Chalk Talk episodes: quick video presentations/lectures on a handful of topics. It’s not very extensive yet, but has potential. You can also jump around by clicking on different pages and images. However, I don’t like that there is no increased playback speed function at the moment.
Step CS: 40 CS-style cases, explanations of different physical exam maneuvers, and some occasional images and videos to follow along. The videos are not always for the correct case/system, but I am told they are probably place-holders for now and will be updated soon. When complete, I feel the explainer videos along with the cases will be a huge benefit to the current gap in Step CS material.
Analytics: The analysis can be altered based on your “Study Goal” (ex: Step 2, shelves, etc.) to give you a better idea of how prepared you are for which upcoming exam. Like other similar products, you can analyze by organ system or clinical subject, but they also have a by-Learning Card option to direct you to the appropriate study cards.
Attending Tips: When you answer incorrectly (or correctly as well) an Attending Tip will pop up to give an important clue to the question. Though not always useful, sometimes these tips can clarify a simple misunderstanding or fill in a piece of useful information. It’s not one of my top-rated features, but it’s a nice added bonus.
In Progress/Needs Some Work
Currently, the biggest issue for underclassmen is that there is not a Step 1 Qbank yet. But they are working on it, and I’m told it will likely be released in the next few months.
There are also always additions being added based on Community Feature Requests. Any member can go to the request page (via Ideas & Feedback tab at the bottom when logged in) and those with the most up-votes begin to be implemented. I’ve requested a few features on here. Hope they get around to them!
There are a few limitations in Exam Simulator mode that they are working on, such as color inversion. This is one I really like in other platforms, and is now available for the Step (though not NBME for some reason?) exams. It’s much easier on the eyes once you get used to it. They also don’t have the most versatile or customizable time-setting abilities in the Simulator. However, these features have been requested.
If you reviewed the previous post, you will know one of my favorite non-qbank aspects of Amboss is the pricing scheme. For as little as $5/month, you can be a member with almost full access to everything mentioned above. The only limitation is 50 questions/month, but you still have access to the learning cards and other materials. And this is the only product I’m currently aware of that has a Lifetime Membership that is affordable, only $765. There is also a 30 day money-back guarantee, so no need to worry about paying for the product and not liking it.
For making it this far (or for those of you that cheated… bad) you can enter code AMBOSS-8D6D-2VWS-AHBX here for 2 additional free weeks (on top of the 5 days they currently offer to all new subscriptions). I’ve been told this link will not expire, so even if this is now an old post, give it a try. Even if you have used other codes in the past, this should still work. Or if you are not yet taking Step 2 CS/CK, keep this code tucked away for when you are ready. They will hopefully have Step 1 material coming out within the next year or so as well, and it can be used at that time if that is where you are in your academic career.
Hope you enjoy, and feel free to leave any (respectful) feedback on what you think of this and other similar products. Happy Studying!