Are First Aid And UWorld Enough For Step 1

Are First Aid And UWorld Enough For Step 1?

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Are First Aid and UWorld Enough For Step 1? It’s a question that has crossed the minds of medical students on their path to conquering the USMLE Step 1.

As a former medical student who now practices medicine, I understand the journey all too well. These two resources, First Aid and UWorld, are important resources for Step 1 success. But, are they sufficient for what they call the “hardest exam in the world”, your first USMLE exam?

In this guide, I’ll break it down to help you through your Step 1 preparation.

Let’s get into it!

Are First Aid And UWorld Enough For Step 1?

While First Aid and UWorld provide a solid foundation for Step 1, it’s important to remember that these resources might not cover all the topics in depth.

Okay, let’s tackle this one head-on. If you’re wondering if you can pass the USMLE Step 1 using just First Aid and UWorld, it’s not quite that simple. These two are like the dynamic duo of Step 1 prep, but there’s more to this superhero story.

First Aid is your trusty sidekick for content review. It’s your go-to book for getting a grip on the most important topics. UWorld, on the other hand, is your practice battleground, perfect for sharpening your test-taking skills and getting used to the exam style. Think of them as the core tools in your toolbox.

But, for a comprehensive understanding, you might want to consider supplementary resources like Pathoma, Sketchy, Boards & Beyond, and Anki. These resources offer more detailed explanations and visual aids, making complex concepts easier to grasp.

By incorporating them into your study plan, you can ensure you’re well-prepared for a wider range of questions on the exam.

Let’s dive deeper into why First Aid and UWorld are like your two best friends when preparing for the USMLE Step 1.

First Aid: Your Knowledge Companion

Imagine First Aid as a detailed roadmap of the medical knowledge you need for Step 1. It highlights the most crucial concepts, facts, and high-yield topics that are likely to appear on the exam.

This book becomes your trusty sidekick because it condenses important medical information into one manageable book. It’s designed to give you a concise but comprehensive overview of what you should know.

With First Aid, you can quickly review the main subjects, grasp fundamental principles, and understand key medical conditions. It’s like having a GPS for your studies, ensuring you stay on the right path.

Whenever you need to revisit a topic or clarify a concept, you can turn to First Aid for clear explanations and handy mnemonics.

UWorld: Your Training Ground

Now, let’s talk about UWorld. Think of it as your high-intensity training ground, where you fine-tune your test-taking skills. While First Aid helps you understand the content, UWorld prepares you for the way Step 1 questions are structured and how to approach them.

UWorld is your virtual battlefield for practice questions. It contains a vast question bank that mirrors the difficulty and format of actual Step 1 questions.

When you tackle these questions, you learn how to dissect the information provided, identify key elements, and choose the right answers.

Through UWorld, you’ll get used to the kind of logic the Step 1 exam demands. You’ll also learn time management – an essential skill for test day. UWorld is where you make your mistakes and learn from them.

So, while First Aid and UWorld are dynamic on their own, together they form a powerful duo for your Step 1 preparation. First Aid is the foundation of your medical knowledge, and UWorld is where you hone your skills.

But, here’s the plot twist: Step 1 isn’t a walk in the park. It’s a tricky exam that dives deep into your medical knowledge.

While First Aid and UWorld are fantastic, they might not cover everything you need to know. Sometimes Step 1 throws curveballs, testing your knowledge in unexpected ways.

So, here’s the superhero strategy: use First Aid and UWorld as your base, but don’t forget to invite other heroes to the party. Add more study materials, practice exams, and mix up your study methods.

This well-rounded approach will make you ready for whatever Step 1 throws at you. Keep reading to find out how to team up First Aid and UWorld for your Step 1 prep.

Is Step 1 the hardest exam in the world (3)

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Biggest Mistakes Students Make In Using First Aid And UWorld For Step 1

Let’s talk about some of the most common mistakes students make when preparing for Step 1, and believe me, I’ve been there too.

These are not just theoretical pitfalls; they are real, practical challenges that students encounter on their journey to Step 1 success.

Mistake #1 Underestimating UWorld

Students often don’t realize the power of UWorld. They might approach it half-heartedly or save it until the last minute.

UWorld is not just a question bank; it’s your practice ground. Neglecting it or not using it to its full potential can be a major mistake.

The more you practice with it, the better prepared you’ll be for the real exam.

Mistake #2 Not Reviewing Mistakes

When you answer UWorld questions, it’s not just about getting the answer right or wrong. It’s about learning from your mistakes.

A significant error is not reviewing the questions you got wrong or even the ones you got right but weren’t entirely sure about. You miss a valuable learning opportunity when you skip this step.

Mistake #3 Using First Aid As A Study Resource

This one’s tricky. First Aid is not your primary study resource; it’s more of a review book. Starting with First Aid can leave you confused, especially if you haven’t built your foundation yet.

Your class materials are your first teachers. Once you’re done with your classes, that’s when First Aid comes into play.

Alternatively, some students dive into UWorld first, which explains topics very well. Then, First Aid serves as a concise review tool.

Mistake #4 Passively Reading The Material

We’ve all done this at some point. Because First Aid is so concise, it’s tempting to just passively read through it.

But remember, every word there is like a piece of a puzzle. If you don’t understand something, don’t just skip it. Seek out your other study resources like UWorld, your school materials, Google, or YouTube.

First Aid should be an active part of your study, not a passive one.

Mistake #5 Procrastination

Last but not least, one of the oldest foes – procrastination. Starting your Step 1 prep late is like trying to sprint a marathon at the last minute. It’s just not effective.

The journey of preparing for Step 1 is about understanding, not memorization. So start early, keep a steady pace, and don’t stress if you need multiple rounds with First Aid.

The goal is to have a good grasp of the concepts. If that takes one round, great! If it needs two or three rounds, so be it. Your weak areas are your guide.

[Free Download] Want to have everything you need to be a top student on your medical journey? Get FREE access to our Med School Success Handbook to get 60+ tips including the best study, time management, mindset tips you need to be a top student. Download it here. 

When To Start UWorld And First Aid For USMLE Step 1

It’s essential not to rush into Step 1 preparation. Your first day in medical school doesn’t need to involve carrying around a First Aid book.

The first step is building a solid foundation in the basic medical sciences. This groundwork is crucial.

Before diving into Step 1 prep, make sure you’ve got these basics down. Once you’ve mastered them, that’s when you should kick off your Step 1 studies.

Starting too early, say a year or more in advance, might not be the most effective strategy. The human brain can only retain so much information, especially over an extended period.

On the flip side, waiting until the last minute isn’t a wise move either. Cramming years’ worth of material in a few weeks is a recipe for disaster.

Instead, aim for a well-planned study timeline that incorporates your class notes, question banks, and resources like First Aid. This approach gives you ample time to understand and retain the concepts.

It’s a good idea to utilize First Aid as a review tool after you’ve completed your main study resources, like your school materials. This sequence ensures you’re primed for success when you dive into Step 1.

When it comes to UWorld, it’s a potent tool, similar to the actual exam. Ideally, use it during your dedicated study period, typically in the last several weeks leading up to your test.

If you want to study UWorld ahead of time, you can go for it, but my suggestion is to start with UWorld not more than four weeks before your dedicated period.

Remember, your study timeline should be a balance that works for you. Don’t rush, but also don’t delay. Aim for steady, structured preparation rather than extremes on either end.

P.S. Want to go in-depth about when to start using UWorld for your Step 1 prep? Watch this video!


Here are frequently asked questions about using First Aid and UWorld in your Step 1 preparation:

How Long Does It Take To Get Through UWorld For Step 1?

The time needed to get through UWorld for Step 1 can vary. Typically, it’s used during your dedicated study period, which might be in the last few weeks leading up to your exam.

This gives you enough time to complete it efficiently. However, there’s no strict rule on how many hours per day. It varies depending on your pace and schedule.

P.S. Curious whether you can pass Step 1 with UWorld as your only resource? Check out this article: Can You Pass Step 1 With UWorld Only?

How Many Times Should I Do UWorld For Step 1?

The ideal number of times to complete UWorld for Step 1 is usually once, as it’s a valuable resource that simulates the real exam. High-performing students often aim for two passes.

Going through it multiple times can lead to diminishing returns, as the content might become overly familiar.

However, reviewing incorrect answers and understanding the explanations thoroughly is crucial.

How Many Times Should I Read First Aid For Step 1?

Reading First Aid for Step 1 only once is typically enough. It’s a concise review book, and the goal is to grasp the high-yield content. Focus on understanding the concepts during your initial read.

However, if you feel the need to revisit it for clarification or review specific topics, there’s no harm in going through it again. The key is comprehension over repetition.


Is First Aid and UWorld Enough For Step 1? Keep in mind, while these are powerful tools, you can complement your preparation with other resources. Consider adding Pathoma, Sketchy, Boards & Beyond, Anki cards, etc, to your arsenal, depending on your learning style.

Your study path is unique, so find what works best for you, stay focused, and you’ll be well on your way to conquering Step 1!

Whenever you’re ready, there are 4 ways I can help you:

1. The Med School Handbook:  Join thousands of other students who have taken advantage of the hundreds of FREE tips & strategies I wish I were given on the first day of medical school to crush it with less stress. 

2. The Med School BlueprintJoin the hundreds of students who have used our A-Z blueprint and playbook for EVERY phase of the medical journey so you can start to see grades like these. 

3. Med Ignite Study ProgramGet personalized help to create the perfect study system for yourself so you can see better grades ASAP on your medical journey & see results like these. 

4. Learn the one study strategy that saved my grades in medical school here (viewed by more than a million students like you). 

We hope this article helped you develop positive study habits while preparing for Step 1. If you like this post, you can read our other medical school articles here:

Until the next one my friend…

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