My No Nonsense USMLE Step 1 Book List
Now that I've received my score, I have some time to reflect on what went right and what went wrong during my summer of study. Here's the best piece of advice I can offer: less is more. I started out buying so many books and didn't have the chance tor read half of them. Pick a few, really good resources and get to know them well.
First Aid for the USMLE Step 1: 2006 The essential resource. Use it early during second year and annotate it as you go along. By the time I wrote my exam, it was my ONLY resource. Anything missing in the book was carefully handwritten in the margins. The 2006 edition is systems based, so if you're old school like me, try the 2005edition. No...you won't fail if you're using the older edition
Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Qbook This book contains 850 questions in the USMLE vignette style. The questions were close to, or at a slightly easier level of difficulty as the online Qbank. Questions are arranged by subject, and they are great review questions to do after you've read up on a subject. I did the entire book before starting Qbank and only found a few questions that actually overlapped. Obviously, many concepts will be repeated but the questions were mostly unique. Do these questions and the online Qbank and the Robbins question book and you will be more than prepared for Step 1. Updated 2008 Edition
Robbins and Cotran Review of Pathology, Second Edition This is *the* multiple choice test book for pathology. After reading whichever pathology book you choose, follow up by doing these questions. The book is organized by system, sometimes with multiple chapters on one system. Be warned that some of the questions are extremely detailed and even unreasonable. However, if you don't get bogged down in the details, it is an invaluable resource.
BRS Pathology This book provides a good overview of the important points in pathology, but without pictures, the book at times starts to feel as though you are just reading lists of facts. The best strategy is to use this book while simultaneously looking at pictures in another book or online. At the end of each chapter, there are a few pages of multiple choice questions which help solidify what you've just read. However, for better practice, do the Robbins book I've mentioned above. Updated 2008 Edition
Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple, Edition 3 I loved this book. My school, in its infinite wisdom, spent less than 3 weeks teaching us all of microbiology. Accordingly, I was clueless in the subject. This book was a life-saver. The pictures, which consist of crude, hand-drawn cartoons are actually quite good, and are great for visual learners. The little anecdotes, seemingly silly, are also very useful in helping you remember the multitude of organisms and the diseases they cause. Definitely buy this one. Updated 2008 Edition
BRS Physiology After slaving through Guyton in the first two years of medical school, I quickly realized that I required a more succinct physiology review book for Step 1. This is the book. It covers everything you need to know without extraneous detail, and it's small enough to read in a couple days. Like other books in the series, it has end-of-chapter multiple choice questions and a 99-question (why couldn't they come up with just one more?) comprehensive exam.
BRS Behavioral Science (Board Review Series) I hate behavioural science. And stats for that matter. In this book, you get a summary of both. It's good for certain things that First Aid was weak in, for example, developmental milestones and some of the personality disorders. Many of the behavioural science questions you will encounter on Step 1 are of the common sense-type that you can't really study for. However, the ones that you can study for will be found in this book. Updated 2008 Edition
Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews : Pharmacology : Special Millennium Update Ok, to tell you the truth I didn't really study pharmacology much for Step 1. Why? Because it's my best subject, and I had just finished pharmacology at school 2 months before my exam. I did peruse the pharm section of First Aid, which was pretty good and lots of people say that just first aid was enough. If you feel like you need more, this is your book. I used it during school, and it has a nice clean consistent presentation for all the drugs which makes it easy to use. If pharm is your weak subject, I suggest you use this resource. Updated 2008 Edition
Neuroanatomy: An Illustrated Colour Text with STUDENT CONSULT Access (Illustrated Colour Text) If you hate neuro like I do, this is the book to use. Don't even think about getting BRS Neuro -- it's a meal and a half. Instead, get this book. It has some really nice pictures with all the important pathways, and clinical correlates that go with disruption of the pathways. I used this book in med school and also during my Step 1 review.
Biochemistry: Board Review Series If you really need help on Biochemistry, use this book. However, a word of caution. There are LOTS of pathways here in heavy detail. If Biochemistry is a weak area for you, start off by getting the basics using just First Aid. Then you can supplement any weak areas with this book. Note: there is a new edition (BRS Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 4th edition) coming out in Dec 2006. I haven't personally used it, however, I don't really think biochemistry has changed much in the past 20 years. Updated 2008 Edition