I took step1 a while ago and scored in the 260s, and AMBOSS was such an integral part of my prep, so this is my 2 cents on AMBOSS.
So when I started, I had a budget of absolute zero. I had the option of doing UW offline, which I tried, and could not tolerate how painfully boring it was, so I started looking for other means to get some free practice in.. I eventually approached AMBOSS for a scholarship, and I got granted.
This resource is just pure gold, and for many reasons, AMBOSS is a QBANK and a knowledge library completely integrated together. Every vague word is just one click away from its explanation, and another click away from a thorough “article” that covers the entire relevant topic. This suits the style of “active learning” so well; where you search for stuff that you don’t know/understand, and focus your efforts on just hitting them.
The questions are challenging, this feels frustrating sometimes, and exciting at other times. In both cases, this should be used as motivation to push you to learn. These questions are in fact harder than what you’re going to see in the actual test. However, the concepts themselves are mostly just the typical high-yield ones, but they are twisted. They usually don’t use any buzzwords, just “buzz patterns”; where you will recognize what they’re talking about if you actually understand the concept. This is useful because it improves the most important skill for USMLE; which is pattern recognition. Be advised to use the 4 and 5 hammer questions (the most difficult ones) sparingly if you are close to your test date, for overthinking is one of your worst enemies in the actual test. I would just select for 1,2,3 hammer questions and take them for what they are.
The way I used AMBOSS in my first pass is that I used to watch BnB in the evenings, and keep the mornings for questions. I started doing questions from one system that I’d already finished from BnB. With time, I started doing more than one system together as I advanced in BnB much faster than AMBOSS. Mixing systems together, even during your first pass, is extremely useful for spaced repetition. As every topic is now appearing multiple times at larger intervals during your first pass; if you started your first pass with cardiology, this way you’ll reach the end of your prep with cardio still relatively fresh in mind. This motivated me to start taking assessments early on. I was at 60% done with AMBOSS and I scored 238 on my first assessment. At 100% and a couple NBMEs later, I scored 252 on NBME19.
Make use of the highlight and high-yield features, as they will color the facts in different shades of yellow depending on how important that topic is from a USMLE perspective. The high-yield feature will completely hide the non-important facts that are irrelevant to the boards, this library is the true competitor and possible alternative to First Aid, as I referenced it much more than I did FA.
While UW is a closer experience to the real test, that didn’t make a difference during the first pass in my case, AMBOSS does professionally cover most high-yield topics in a smart way, which was more than sufficient. Moreover, doing both AMBOSS and UW is definitely better than doing UW many times IMO.
It’s not perfect, and I would not recommend it over UW at the final stages of preparation. One should avoid difficult questions just before their exam as they can cause “hard question paranoia” where you think every question is a trick, DON’T. You can still safely use the easier questions though.
One nice thing about AMBOSS is that they will give you a 50% discount or even a full-access scholarship if you email them explaining your situation, just as nice as UW!
This was my honest opinion about AMBOSS.
I provide tutoring services on my website :)
Thanks to everybody for listening!