Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Books And Resources For USMLE Step 1

Every U.S. medical student must take and pass Step I prior to becoming a licensed physician. Although Step 2 and 3 are also important, Step I ends up being *the* major test since it is the one residency programs look at when a student applies for a particular program. Having recently taken Step I, here are some resources, both online and books, that I found useful:

First Aid for USMLE Step I 2008 - An ABSOLUTE essential. This book contains the basic information for the entire test. If you can memorize this entire book, you are almost guaranteed a 240+ score.

BRS Physiology - A solid review of all the physiology you need to know for the test

BRS Pathology - A good companion to the physiology book

Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple - A good review of microbiology. It probably has much more detail than you need for the test, but combine this with First Aid's microbio, and you're golden.

Pharmcards - Probably more detail than you need for pharmacology, and does contain some errors, but overall, if you know these cards, you're set for the pharm parts of the test

There are several other potentially useful books, but if you use the ones listed here and master them, you will do very, very well.

Ace Step I Without Becoming a Hermit - another guide to books for Step I written by a HMS student

Goljan Notes - the mythical Dr. Goljan apparently runs Step I review courses. His notes and mp3 lectures are heralded by some. I listened to most of the lectures, but looking back on it, they're probably best started early and listened to in one's spare time

Kaplan QBank - Almost every student will end up doing practice questions in addition to studying. There are several QBanks out there, but Kaplan has a reputation for good results. Try it before you buy it:

Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions (Kaptest.com)

The Challenge consists of a sample set of questions to let you assess how your studying is going, as well as give you a taste of what Kaplan's questions are like. I used them in my preparation, and definitely found it worthwhile. 

Feel free to comment on other resources you find helpful!


  1. Hi! Great blog! I am an M2 getting ready to start the race that is Step 1. I found Robbin's Review Qs very helpful in class.

    Did you find Robbin's Review Qs helpful when studying for your Pathology portions when reviewing? Or do you think it is too extensive for USMLE and more suited in the classroom setting?

  2. Great question! Personally, I relied mainly on First Aid and BRS Pathology. I found that on the exam, I didn't really have to identify anything by the path slide / described findings alone, so I don't think Path is highly emphasized. Then again, if you do know it well, it can help bail you out on a few q's or confirm your intuition.

    Regarding Robbins specifically, I did not use the review q's myself, but one of my friends (who also did well on Step 1) found it useful. I did use the full Robbin's occasionally as a reference for my own edification. Hope that helps!

  3. hey..
    i'll be taking step 1 in august... right now i plan to do all of kaplan books. probably will do path from goljan...
    is that okay???


  4. That should fine. I'd also suggest looking at Robbins as a pathology reference and BRS pathology as pathology review.

  5. Thanks for your review!
    I trying to gear up for studying for the boards and have bought my first aid but but find it really mind numbing, probably because it just seems like a list of facts without too much particular organization. Did you feel the same way and did you have any method of getting past that?



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