A Review of MedOne Adaptive Learner
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Lisa Adriani, MLS, AHIP
Research and Instruction Librarian
Edward and Barbara Netter Library
Quinnipiac University

Thieme’s MedOne Adaptive Learner is a medical education platform that aims to serve medical students taking the USMLE Step 1 exam. It creates a personalized learning experience by adapting to users’ knowledge for optimal results and provides a platform where students can gauge their understanding of the content.


Adaptive Learner has over 5,700 multiple-choice questions in 11 disciplines, which includes over 188 stacks of questions covering organ systems, diseases, and abnormal/normal processes. The stack topics include behavioral sciences, biochemistry, clinical anatomy, genetics, histology and embryology, microbiology and immunology, neuroscience, pathology, pharmacology, physiology, social sciences, and a USMLE Step 1 practice exam with 280 questions. It has over 950 images, tables, and concept remediation cards.

The multiple-choice questions are written by U.S. medical school faculty and “learning engineers,” third-year medical students who have passed the USMLE Step 1 exam. The size of each stack of questions correlates with the size of the exam topic.

Features & Functionality

At the center of the Adaptive Learner experience is an artificial intelligence algorithm. While using the platform, the algorithm works in the background and tailors the content to deliver a personalized path for students. It uses metacognitive inputs based on question difficulty, response time for each question, and overall pace of users. With this algorithm, the material adapts to users’ needs and effectively creates a customized experience.

Questions are graded according to soft, medium, and hard levels, but that information is strictly used by the algorithm. Additionally, underneath each multiple-choice answer, users can select a confidence level, also called metacognition buttons. The buttons are: Know It (conscious competent), I Think I Know (unconscious competent), Not Sure (unconscious incompetent), and No Idea (conscious incompetent). The algorithm will use the metacognition answers to identify areas of weakness and will repeat questions in areas that are answered incorrectly until users are considered competent.

Every user will need to set up an account and create a username and password within the institution’s IP range. After setting up the account, users can log in from anywhere and the Adaptive Learner link will appear in the box on the left side of the MedOne platform home screen.

The front page of Adaptive Learner has buttons for an Introduction, FAQs, a Quick Start Guide, and MedOne Adaptive Learner: Step 1. When MedOne Adaptive Learner: Step 1 is launched, the initial screen has stacks of questions listed with icons. Each stack is clickable and will expand to subtopics. After selecting a subtopic, a case will be presented along with multiple-choice questions, varying from one to three questions for each case. After answering a question, users will see detailed explanations for the answers. Informational slides with didactic content are presented when questions are answered incorrectly. The time allotted for each stack of questions is approximately one minute for each question.

As users navigate the content, a progress bar at the top displays the percentage of progress through the stacks. Users can exit at any time as their progress will be saved. The page navigation includes a hamburger menu on the top left side. It links to the Dashboard, Library, and Reports. The Dashboard returns users to the main page with the stacks. The Library is a list of all questions with no metacognition or algorithm. This function streamlines the material so users receive only the right or wrong answers with no didactic explanations. The Library may be useful for faculty who want to review the questions and use questions for a course. Reports includes details of the answered questions, outlining the users’ strong and weak areas.

A USMLE Step 1 Practice Exam can be found as a purple icon in the list of stacks. It has the same layout as the cases from other stacks, but the questions are different and answers will not be presented as with the other stacks. Users can pause the test anytime and will have eight hours for the mock exam.

Business Model

Institutional subscriptions are available with annual licensing and include access for an unlimited number of users. Subscriptions can be purchased alone or as a combination with other MedOne products. There are no individual subscriptions available. Individual user reports are available to each user with metacognition statistics. Institutional usage reports are available and include the number of unique users, average time spent with the stacks, and average progress for each stack. Additionally, Adaptive Learner is designed to be added on to other MedOne products but can stand alone.

Adaptive Learner has institutional access authenticated by IP range and will work with EZproxy, Open Athens, and VPN. A username and password will have to be created on campus or within IP range. After that, users will be able to access the resource outside of the institutional network. It is compatible with mobile devices and will work on tablets and phones.


Adaptive Learner is a great asset for libraries working with medical students and should also be considered for libraries working with physician assistant, biochemistry, and pre-med students. Faculty members may also find value if they are looking for questions to incorporate into coursework. While there are several test prep products available, the algorithm, which creates a personalized and adaptive learning experience, sets it apart. It is comprehensive, easy to use, and easy to manage and works seamlessly with other MedOne products. Currently, only Step 1 is available, but Thieme MedOne plans to add modules for Step 2 and Step 3 in the future.

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