If you are preparing for the USMLE Step 3 exam, you need the right study materials that cover all the topics you should expect and provides practice questions. You also want USEMLE Step 3 guides that are concise as you may not have a lot of time to study since you will be spending most of your time conducting clinical rotations.
If you will be sitting for the USMLE Step 3 exam for the first time, it can be difficult to determine which study resources you should use. In this guide, we present the five best USMLE Step 3 books that cover all the topics you should expect in the exam and that are specifically designed to help you pass the test.
USMLE Step 3 Prep Books – Comparison Table
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USMLE Step 3 Resources Review
Kaplan is one of the most trusted medical prep book publishers on the market. The Kaplan USMLE Step 3 bundle is a comprehensive study guide that is updated twice a year. Therefore, students that use the guide can be sure of having the latest information on the topics covered in the USMLE Step 3 exam.
The USMLE study materials cover population health, patient safety, patient management, and basic science correlation. The content is has been written and reviewed by Kaplan experts to ensure their accuracy.
The bundle is available in two volumes, each of which focuses on different aspects of the exam.
- In the first bundle, you will learn Ethics, Psychiatry, Neurology, and Internal Medicine
- The second bundle focuses on Patient Safety, Epidemiology, Surgery, Obstetrics/Gynecology, and Pediatrics
The Kaplan USMLE Step 3 bundle mainly focuses on case studies and presents relevant explanations and definitions of various concepts. Important information about particular concepts is provided in summary boxes. If you need to revise a topic, you can use the information on to summary boxes for quick reference.
The bundle has 996 pages and discusses over 250 cases. The content reviews the cases thoroughly and presents various possible situations that you may encounter in the actual exam. The compact books are easy to carry in your bag, in case you like revising during your commute time.
The only downside we found with the Kaplan USMLE Step 3 bundle is that it is only limited to the CSS portion of the USMLE exam. If you would like information for other sections, you can find them in Step 1 and Step 2 bundles.
- The books are small and easily fit in the bag
- The outline format and summary boxes make studying efficient
- The concepts are reviewed in depth
- Only covers the CSS portion of the exam. Other sections are covered in the
The First Aid for the USMLE Step 3 is another study guide for medical students that we recommend. The guide is curated under the supervision of Dr. Tao Le, who is associated with the University of Louisville and John Hopkins University School of Medicine.
This USMLE Step 3 guide is written by residents and reviewed for accuracy by the First Aid medical faculty. The book is regularly updated to ensure students have the latest information on the topics covered in the USMLE exam.
Below is what is included in the First Aid USMLE Step 3 guide:
- Full-color clinical images
- Vignette-style “flash cards:
- 100 mini-cases
The information is presented in a manner like a student would share with another student. The 544 pages book also covers some effective strategies for taking the test. These strategies will give you an edge when sitting for the 2-day exam session.
The First Aid for the USMLE Step 3 book covers topics in a simple and concise manner. The concepts are explained in a simple manner and your understanding is reinforced through the 100 exam-style mini cases that are discussed throughout the book. Going through the mini cases will help you know what to expect in the actual exam and how you should answer the questions.
We also love the flashcards that come with the book as they are great revision aids. You can use the flashcards to test what you have learned during the day.
The First Aid for the USMLE Step 3 is meant to add on to the information that is covered in the First Aid Step 2 book.
- Covers practice cases that are similar to what you will see in the actual exam. The information will make you confident of handling the cases you will encounter in the exam.
- Comprehensive review of concepts
- Written by former med students and professors and, hence, the information provided is relevant
- You will need the Step 2 book to get the most out of this guide
The Master the Boards USMLE Step 3 is written by Dr. Conrad Fischer, the Residency Program Director at Brookdale Hospital (NY). This book is a standalone guide that covers the topics you will encounter in the exam comprehensively through its 592 pages. The book presents only the necessary information you need for the test.
The content in the book follows a step-by-step approach, which is helpful in building your logic and helping you understand the concepts that are presented. At the end of every chapter, there is an exam-like diagnostic test that will help you gauge what you have learned.
The Master the Boards USMLE Step 3 guide also has a number of techniques that you will find helpful when taking the exam. Some of the techniques used, for example, elimination, will increase your chances of acing the USMLE text.
We love how the questions have been formatted, which makes it easy for you to remember them.
The only issue with the book is that it does not cover all the topics that are examined in the USMLE Step 3 comprehensively.
- The questions are arranged in a format that allows you to remember them easily
- You will learn various techniques, e.g. elimination, which are helpful when taking the exam
- The content is arranged in a logical, step-by-step approach
- The topics are not covered in a comprehensive manner
Another of the best USMLE Step 3 study materials is the Clinical Judgement: USMLE Step 3. This book is written in a simple way to help you learn clinical judgment skills.
The book begins with the basic science concepts and progresses from there to more advanced topics. The content will equip you with the knowledge you need to tackle multiple-choice questions you will encounter during the exam. Moreover, the book is updated to cover the concepts that are tested in USMLE Step 3.
The 400-pages book has 3 sections that focus on different areas of the exam, including patient management and diagnostics. Below is what is included in the book:
- A section on Pattern Recognition that will help you develop an instinct about diseases, ensuring you have more time to write an essay about the disease
- DSM-5 alerts that you need to know for psychiatry questions
- In-depth details of clinical manifestations and diseases, which is well-presented in a step-by-step format
The USMLE Step 3 review book does not contain fluff content. The concepts are explained concisely and there are dozens of questions and keyword reviews that will help you internalize what you learn. We also love the tips included in the book that will help you improve your Computer-based Case Simulations (CSS) score.
Going through the content in the book will help you to develop gut instincts about cases through pattern recognition. There are many examples and guidelines on how you should handle the cases. The guidelines are presented in an exam-style format, enabling you to save time during your studies.
While the content presented covers everything you would need to pass the exam, it is not as in-depth as some of the USMLE Step 3 books on your list.
- Detailed examples provided with solid explanations
- The content does not contain fluff
- Only has a brief overview of the concepts
The final USMLE Step 3 resource that we have is the USMLE Step 3 Secrets Review book. This guide is highly recommended when you do not have a lot of time to prepare for your USMLE Step 3 exam.
The book is written in an engaging style by former med students that aced the USMLE Step 3 exam. In the 400 pages, the book covers all the topics that are tested in the exam, including management, diagnosis, and treatment of common disorders.
At the end of every topic, there are engaging questions that will help to cement what you have learned. We found the questions invaluable in enabling students to retain what they have learned and saving time.
Inside the USMLE Step 3 Secrets, you will find the following:
- Summary boxes, figures, and tables that complement the text content
- Pro tips to help you tackle the USMLE exam
The concepts in the book are explained in a simple manner without fluff. This makes them easy to understand. Moreover, the illustrations and tables help to cement what you have learned in difficult topics.
The former UMSLE candidates that have written the book provide strategies that you will find useful when taking the test. Dr. O’Connell also provides additional tips he has gathered over the years in the medical field.
However, one thing you should know before buying this book is that it does not cover the concepts that are tested in the exam in depth. If you need a book that goes deeper into the concepts, we recommend you check the Kaplan USMLE Step 3 Study Bundle.
- Has tips from former students on how to approach the questions of the test
- The content is written concisely
- The reviews are not in depth
Editor’s Verdict: Best USMLE Step 3 Book
All the above books are excellent study resources for the USMLE exam. However, we highly recommend the Kaplan USMLE Step 3 Study Bundle if you are looking for material that goes in-depth into the concepts that are covered in the test. The only issue with the Kaplan guide is that it is quite expensive.
If you are on a budget, the next best option would be the First Aid for the USMLE Step 3 Book.