Looking for the best USMLE Step 1 prep course? Read on for the top recommendations.
In this Guide
- Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Course (Books)
- USMLE Step 1 Books Resources Review
- #1. USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes 2018 (Kaplan Test Prep)
- #2. First Aid for the USMLE Step 1
- #3. Kaplan Medical’s USMLE Step 1 Qbook
- #4. USMLE Step 1 Made Ridiculously Simple
- #5. USMLE Step 1 Flashcard Study System – Best USMLE Flashcards
- #6. Crush Step 1
- #7. USMLE Step 1 Qbank
- #8. Fundamentals of Pathology – Best USMLE Step 1 Pathology Book
- #9. medEssentials for USMLE Step 1
- #10. Lippincott Microcards – Best Microbiology Flashcards
- #11. USMLE Step 1 Secrets
- Editor's Recommended Articles
If you are preparing to take the USMLE Step 1 exam, it is important to prepare well. You should have the best USMLE Step 1 study materials that cover in-depth all the topics you should be familiar with and also have practice questions to help you get used to the exam.
In this guide, we present the best USMLE prep books you need to prepare adequately for the exam.
Best USMLE Step 1 Prep Course (Books)
Some USMLE Step 1 study materials are review tests while others are resources like flash cards. All the resources we have reviewed below will ensure you are well-prepared for the exam.
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USMLE Step 1 Books Resources Review
This USMLE Step 1 study guide is comprehensive and spans over 2,600 pages. The notes cover all the relevant topics that are tested in the exam. Regarded as the “official” lecture material by Kaplan, the books cover Medical Genetics, Physiology, Pharmacology, Pathology, Immunology and Microbiology, Biochemistry, Behavioral/Social Sciences, and Anatomy.
The Kaplan USMLE study materials are updated and come with charts and color diagrams to enhance your learning. At the end of every chapter, there is a summary guide that will help you internalize what you have learned.
Other features will love about the Kaplan USMLE Set Books include summary boxes, flowcharts, high yield tags, and outlines.
Given that the study material comprises of 7 books, it is understandable that they come at a somewhat steeper price (check current price). Moreover, the books go in-depth into concepts and may come out as being too overly comprehensive. However, if you need an extra edge to pass of crush the USMLE Step 1, there is no better resource than the Kaplan USMLE Step 1 books.
This is the best USMLE Step 1 study book on the market.
We also love the tips presented in the First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 book. The tips are sourced from students using the book and contribute to an overall good studying experience.
Whether you wish to cram for the exam or are simply studying it out over a period of time, the First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 book has lots of facts that will help you. Hundreds of colored photos and illustrations complement the text content in the book. Moreover, more information and tips are available on the book’s website.
We love the First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 book for the in-depth information it provides on the topics that are tested in the exam. There are also lots of illustrations and other visuals that enhance the studying experience.
However, the digital format seems to have some minor formatting errors.
The USMLE Step 1 book is reviewed by Kaplan editors and covers the major practice areas, including Physiology, Pharmacology, Pathophysiology, Pathology, Microbiology, Immunology, Biostatistics, Biochemistry, Behavioral Science, and Anatomy. The book is regularly updated and provides explanations on why various answers are wrong or write. Moreover, it has test-taking tips and strategies that you can use to have an edge during the actual exam.
The Kaplan Step 1 book is more of a complementary guide rather than a core USMLE Step 1 prep book. This book only has questions and will, therefore, be a great compliment to either the Kaplan Lecture Notes or the First Aid for the USMLE Step 1.
The hundreds of practice questions in the Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Qbook will give you enough practice as you await the actual exam.
The USMLE Step 1 Made Ridiculously Simple is not comprehensive like the first two prep books we have reviewed. Instead, the book provides information in a compact manner and covers Social Sciences, Pharmacology, Pathology, Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Anatomy. The text content is complemented with charts to help you internalize the concepts explained.
Since this book is not comprehensive, we recommend using it with another USMLE Step 1 prep book. This guide can be a quick resource that you can rely on to improve on your weak areas. Most students also buy the guide to use as a quick way of refreshing their memory on important concepts 4-6 weeks before the exam.
The lighthearted USMLE Step 1 Made Ridiculously Simple is a fun review of the exam.
#5. USMLE Step 1 Flashcard Study System – Best USMLE Flashcards
The USMLE Step 1 Flashcard System covers a wide range of topics and will be helpful in improve your weak areas.
While the USMLE Step 1 Flashcards are useful, they are not comprehensive, as expected. If you want to get an in-depth understanding of topics, you should look for a different USMLE Step 1 study material.
We recommend the Flashcards system if you want to jog your memory on concepts or get quick information on areas that you are weak.
#6. Crush Step 1
The book is well organized and has current information you need for the USMLE Step 1 test. Every chapter in the book is accompanied by review questions that will test your understand of what you have studied. The visual tools in the book, including images and tables, help to make USMLE concepts easy to understand.
We also love the test preparation strategies that are include in the Crush Step 1. These strategies focus on comprehensive instead of simple cramming. In the book, you will understand the causes of various ailments.
The Crush Step 1 also come with an eBook that has a searchable interface. We find the eBook handy when you need to look up information about a particular concept.
The Crush Step 1 is not as detailed as other review books in this guide. Some topics are lightly covered while others are not covered at all. Therefore, we recommend using the Crush Step 1 with another guide such as the First Aid for the USMLE Step 1.
Still, this book is packed with illustration and provides for an easy read. The thorough descriptions makes it an excellent USMLE Step 1 study material for anyone looking to quickly brush their knowledge on various topics.
The online USMLE Step 1 guide is comprehensive and provides a personalized experience as you prepare for the exam. On the study material dashboard, you can track your progress, refine your question quizzes, and analyze your results on different subjects.
We love the fact that the guide explains the answers to the test questions. This is important in helping you understand what is required and uncovering your weak areas.
The USMLE Step 1 Qbank is a little expensive compared to other USMLE Step 1 guides we have reviewed. This content is meant to complement more comprehensive reviews rather than be used as a standalone guide.
There are plenty of questions in the Qbank Step 1 that will help you get familiar with the test questions you will encounter. Moreover, the personalization of the guide makes it an excellent option if you would like to improve your weak areas.
#8. Fundamentals of Pathology – Best USMLE Step 1 Pathology Book
The Fundamentals of Pathology has more than 300 images and hundreds of full-color pages. Buying the book will also get you access to quality video content to help you understand the content better. The book covers pathology topics comprehensively and also has enough space in can you would want to annotate your text with notes.
As the name suggests, this book mainly focuses on Pathology. As a result, it is quite expensive. If you are preparing to sit for the USMLE Step 1 exam, you will need to use this book and another comprehensive resource such as the Kaplan USMLE Step 1 book.
The USMLE study guide presents pathology concepts in an in-depth manner and accompanies them with full-color illustrations for easy understanding. The digital component of the book brings pathology studying to life.
medEssentials follows the primary curriculums of most medical schools and also has content on organ systems. The book has tables and photos that make it easy for you to understand the concepts taught. Moreover, there is enough room in the book in case you would like to take additional notes.
We find the medEssentials to have the most comprehensive topic on Pharmacology and Biochemistry. The diagrams and charts in the book make it easy for you to understand complex concepts. You can use this guide as a complement to Kaplan review course or lecture notes.
We felt that the medEssentials is a little bit disorganized compared to the other USMLE study resources we have reviewed. Moreover, the anatomy section would use some more details.
The medEssentials is a concise version of Kaplan materials and may not be very useful if you have another Kaplan USMLE Step 1 resource. However, it is an excellent guide for anyone looking for a quick overview of concepts or topics that will be covered in the actual exam.
#10. Lippincott Microcards – Best Microbiology Flashcards
The Lippincott Microcards make it easy for you to memorize algorithms thanks to their visual nature. Most students find the visuals make learning microbiology more interesting.
You will find the Lippincott Microcards useful both for preparing for your USMLE Step 1 exam and Microbiology classes in medical school. Thus, you should get these microcards even if you do not plan to sit for the USMLE Step 1 exam soon.
However, these small study materials are not easy to write on. If you like writing your own notes on study materials, the flashcards do not make it easy.
#11. USMLE Step 1 Secrets
In the book, you will find both clinical cases and shorter questions. There are also dozens of tables, images, and figures that will help you understand complex topics. We also love the fact that the book has an electronic version.
If you already have a good grasp of the topics tested in the USMLE Step 1 exam, this book can be a valuable resource for brushing up your knowledge. The question and answer format used through the book will help you internalize concepts fast.
If you are looking for the best USMLE Step 1 prep course, you cannot go wrong with the options above.