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10 Best USMLE Step 1 Books You Don’t Want To Miss

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Have you been thinking what are the best USMLE Step 1 books? We have you covered!

 In this post, we will be giving you the 10 best USMLE Step 1 books that should be on your study list. This post will include the books’ features, pros and cons, and other reasons to help you get a resource that suits you.

Along with my Step 1 Masterclass and tips on how to study for Step 1, here are the best USMLE Step 1 books we recommend helping you get a score of 250 or beyond!

Table Of Contents

1. First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 

Best USMLE Step 1 Books - TheMDJourney.com

Perhaps the most popular review guide, First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 features thousands of high yield tips, tricks, and information that will help you with your USMLE Step 1 preparation.

It’s no question that this book is one of the best USMLE Step 1 books. 

FYI – I wrote a full ultimate guide for you on how to use First Aid for Step 1 here!

Key Features:

  • It contains fresh content as it is updated every year.
  • The high-performing students who took the recent USMLE Step 1 exam authors the book. They provide first-hand information or tips on how the USMLE Step 1 looks like and their strategies on answering the questions.
  • Complex content is complemented with colored illustrations and relevant websites that could assist you to assimilate knowledge.
  • It contains tips on how to study for Step 1 and how to use the book as a USMLE prep specially tailored by students who actually used the book for the boards.

What Do Actual Users Think About First Aid for the USMLE Step 1? 

Here are some testimonials:

Great quality, never disappoints.

What’s not to love about First Aid? They constantly improve their content. The quality of the book is always improved upon and there are more beautiful and colorful diagrams to help make memorization easier. I recommend this to anyone who writes the USMLE. It’s the holy book for the exam and a must-have.”

High yield must-have for any student taking Step 1

“Must-have for any student wanting to practice medicine in the U.S. It has a wealth of high yield information with mnemonics, charts, and pictures. This is a review resource (keep that in mind) so other resources should be used if you are still a little unsure of certain words or concepts. I recommend getting it even before your first year of med school and reading on the side as you navigate med the first two years of med school. That way, it will not be your first time seeing the layout and information of the book when preparing for Step 1.”

Why You Should Or Should Not Buy First Aid for the USMLE Step 1?

Here are the pros and cons for First Aid for Step 1 

Pros:

    • More affordable 
    • It contains high-yield and relevant USMLE Step 1 information.
    • Visual media is excellent, especially for visual learners.

Cons:

    • There were notable formatting errors on digital versions (Nonetheless, there were no issues on facts and quality of information).
    • It can be difficult to study if you’re unfamiliar with the information. It’s great as a resource tool but First Aid For USMLE Step 1 can be difficult as a primary learning tool. 

How Much Is First Aid for the USMLE Step 1??

  • eBook version: $40.84
  • Paperback version: $49.13

Where To Buy First Aid for the USMLE Step 1?

You can grab a copy of First Aid For USMLE Step 1 here!

FYI: Want to learn more advanced tips to help you on USMLE Step 1? Check out our free masterclass to help you get a 250+ on Step 1 here!

Step-1-Masterclass-1

2. Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes

Best USMLE Step 1 Books - TheMDJourney.com

Kaplan Medical’s USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes is a comprehensive reference with over 2,600 pages. It covers all of the relevant topics that you might encounter in the actual USMLE Step 1. 

Key Features:

  • Collated from a prominent group of medical lecturers.
  • Covers the foundations such as Anatomy and Physiology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Social Sciences, Immunology, and Genetics. 
  • Complemented with charts and colored diagrams for easier understanding and to help you reinforce your clinical correlation skills.
  • At the end of each chapter, there is a summary guide as a review of what you have learned so far 
  • Additional features include outlines, flowcharts, and high yield tags. 

What Do Actual Users Think About Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes? 

Here is a testimonial for Kaplan lecture notes

Amazing for this price

That was the best purchase ever. Kaplan books 2019, delivered to Hungary in 5 days, they used DHL! The paper is thin, but does not leak the markers when I use it. That’s amazing! Thank you!”

Why You Should Or Should Not Buy Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes?

Here are the pros and cons of Kaplan lecture notes.

Pros:

    • It provides a comprehensive and in-depth discussion of USMLE Step 1 topics.

Cons:

    • Given the brand name, the notes are relatively expensive compared to other Step 1 resources.
    • Some find it too intensive as a supplement resource versus class lectures.

How Much Is Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes?

  • Paperback version: $135.99

Where To Buy Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes?

You can grab a copy of Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes here.

3. Kaplan Medical’s USMLE Step 1 Qbook: 850 Exam-Like Practice Questions

Best USMLE Step 1 Books - TheMDJourney.com

The Kaplan Medical’s USMLE Step 1 Qbook: 850 Exam-Like Practice Questions is another trademark of the brand designed not just to help you pass, but to boost your board exam score!

Key Features:

  • Formulated with 850 questions that could appear in the USMLE Step 1 exam.
  • Serves as a complementary resource from textbooks.
  • Covers major topics such as Anatomy, Behavioral Science, Biochemistry, Biostatistics, Immunology, Microbiology, Pathology, Pathophysiology, Pharmacology, and Physiology. 
  • Regularly updated
  • Each correct answer is provided with a rationale along with test-taking strategies.

What Do Actual Users Think About Kaplan Medical’s USMLE Step 1 Qbook? 

Here is a testimonial for the Kaplan question bank book!

Best question bank to use in combination with UWORLD

The book is filled with a great intro going over the USMLE and test-taking strategies and gives excellent responses to why each question in it is either right or wrong, and why the wrong answers are wrong. If you are looking for a Qbank to study for the boards, Kaplan over USMLE Rx. If you’re looking for a Qbank to do during your first semesters, USMLE Rx might be a little bit closer to the types of questions medical schools will be asking on exams. But, as a question bank in your dedicated study or last year, this is by far the better written of the question banks. Also, I’m assuming you will at some point use UWORLD. I’m saving that for my dedicated study period, and using this Qbank during my 4th semester. UWORLD is the best, however, this is what I would recommend using before doing UWORLD questions.”

Why You Should Or Should Not Buy Kaplan Medical’s USMLE Step 1 Qbook?

Here are the pros and cons:

Pros:

    • It’s good for anyone who wants extra questions to test their USMLE Step 1 knowledge.

Cons:

    • It cannot be used as a sole USMLE Step 1 prep resource. It must be used with other USMLE Step 1 tips and tricks and review guides such as Kaplan USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes. 

How Much Is Kaplan Medical’s USMLE Step 1 Qbook?

  • Paperback version: $18.69

Where To Buy Kaplan Medical’s USMLE Step 1 Qbook?

Click here to grab a copy of the Kaplan Medical’s USMLE Step 1 Qbook. 

4. Pathoma Fundamentals of Pathology

Best USMLE Step 1 Books - TheMDJourney.com

Does not come off the list of our Best USMLE Step 1 book, Fundamentals of Pathology, or otherwise known as Pathoma, is an all-time most recommended review guide for the pathology questions that would appear in Step 1. 

This book is written by Dr. Hussain Sattar, a highly regarded pathologist and board review instructor.

By far during my own Step 1 experience, this was one of the best USMLE Step 1 books I used. 

Key Features:

  • Provides an in-depth and comprehensive discussion on Pathology
  • Contains over 300 colored images 
  • Refers you to quality videos you could use as a supplement with the book
  • Contains sections where you can take down notes 

What Do Actual Users Think About Pathoma Fundamentals of Pathology? 

Here are some testimonials:

Best resource for Pathology

Pathoma is a tremendous resource in studying for USMLE Step 1 and preparing for third-year clerkships. Dr. Sattar’s lectures cover all of the high yield pathology points. He explains everything from a basic mechanistic approach which is critical because that is how the questions are tested, but more importantly it develops true understanding which is never forgotten.”

Why You Should Or Should Not Buy Pathoma Fundamentals of Pathology?

Here are the pros and cons of Pathoma.

Pros:

    • Comprehensive and colorful Pathology resource 
    • One of the best resources for pathology out there!

Cons:

    • Needs to be supplemented with another review guide for the remaining Step 1 topics
    • Some might find the book expensive since it only focuses on Pathology.

How Much Is Pathoma Fundamentals of Pathology?

  • Paperback version: $75.12

Where To Buy Pathoma Fundamentals of Pathology?

Click here to grab a copy of Pathoma Fundamentals of Pathology.

5. Crush Step 1 – The Ultimate Reviewer for Step 1

Best USMLE Step 1 Books - TheMDJourney.com

Crush Step 1 – The Ultimate USMLE Step 1 Review is also a popular and effective resource for your USMLE Step 1 preparation. This is developed by students who were able to crack the USMLE Step 1 and aced a top board exam score.

Key Features:

  • It covers a wide range of topics that could appear on Step 1.
  • The overall format is organized and highly readable. 
  • It contains illustrations to reinforce knowledge discussed through text.
  • It provides test preparation strategies that concentrate on comprehension rather than mere memorization.
  • It provides simple and concise discussions about disease processes.
  • Comes with an ebook with a searchable interface

What Do Actual Users Think About Crush Step 1? 

Here are some testimonials:

Awesome Explanations; Tells You “Why” as It Gives You Answers

This book is amazing. It EXPLAINS complex material in a very straightforward manner. The “lecture notes” for Kaplan run like 2700 pages I believe. How can a mere mortal digest so much? Perhaps First Aid is the go-to during the final push of your Step 1 prep, but this book can guide you through 95% of the material in a very thoughtful and well-organized manner. I hate textbooks but this is a winner.”  

Great book!

As an MS1, I frequently use this book to make sure that I have a firm understanding of the basic concepts. Along the way, I annotate the book with the information I gain from the lecture. I love how clearly written and well-organized everything is. If I had to pick between First Aid and this, I would pick Crush Step 1.”

Why You Should Or Should Not Buy Crush Step 1?

Here are the pros and cons:

Pros:

    • Easy-to-read and designed with a lot of illustrations for easier understanding 
    • Focuses on training your comprehension skills

Cons:

    • Though it covers a wide range of topics, it lacks an intensive discussion on some areas like Pharmacology. 

How Much Is Crush Step 1?

  • eBook version: $31.49
  • Paperback version: $30.38

Where To Buy Crush Step 1?

You can grab a copy of Crush Step 1 here.

6. USMLE Step 1 Secrets 

Best USMLE Step 1 Books - TheMDJourney.com

Crafted by a team of doctors and medical students, the USMLE Step 1 Secrets presents a focused and high-yield USMLE Step 1 review. It contains Q&A format as additional practice for the boards.

Key Features:

  • Includes clinical cases and review questions to test your clinical correlation skills
  • It contains colored images, tables, and figures for a simplified understanding of concepts.
  • Has additional space for notes-taking
  • Comes in a digital version

What Do Actual Users Think About USMLE Step 1 Secrets? 

Here are some testimonials:

GOAT

Every time I read a paragraph, I’m like “Damn, that’s so cool!” It has some good pathophysiology tie-ins as well. He ties concepts together very well and also gives good clinical insight (including DDx). When I read the neuro chapter, he was hitting concepts that made me think about things I saw in USMLE Rx.”

Five Stars

Absolutely phenomenal for a case-based curriculum”​

Why You Should Or Should Not Buy USMLE Step 1 Secrets?

Here are the pros and cons:

Pros:

    • Practice test questions serve as your primer for the actual exam. 

Cons:

    • Formatting errors are infrequent.

How Much Is USMLE Step 1 Secrets?

  • eBook version: $30.59
  • Paperback version: $29.69

Where To Buy USMLE Step 1 Secrets?

Click here if you want to grab a copy of USMLE Step 1 Secrets.

7. First Aid for the Basic Sciences (Value Pack)

Best USMLE Step 1 Books - TheMDJourney.com

If you are looking for resources focusing on the medical knowledge foundations, perhaps First Aid for the Basic Sciences is what you are looking for.

The set includes two books: the FABS: General Principles and FABS: Organ systems.  Though you could purchase them separately, we highly recommend you to buy it in a set.

Their powerful combination will provide you comprehensive yet easy-to-understand medical information that would help you crack Step 1 and survive your first two years in med school.

Key Features:

  • Enriched with foundational yet high-yield knowledge covered by the USMLE Step 1
  • Organized presentation of content by organ systems
  • Helpful resource during your first two years of medical school
  • Designed with colored illustrations, tables, and learning aids for easier retention

What Do Actual Users Think About First Aid for the Basic Sciences (Value Pack)? 

Here is a testimonial:

This book is perfect for that they complement First Aid very well

I am the type of person that needs to understand the why of things to memorize them, this book is perfect for that they complement First Aid very well. It doesn’t just have just keynotes just for random memorization factor it helps you learn. I graduated in a foreign country and taking step 1 so I have to go back maybe 5 years and remember all the tiny different details, English is not my first language sometimes I just don’t know the abbreviations used in most books, I love that it explains thing in a way it’s easy for me to understand. This book is very easy to follow, very organized. I would recommend this all the way. Also the pictures and graphs are very well done.

Why You Should Or Should Not Buy First Aid for the Basic Sciences (Value Pack)?

Here are the pros and cons:

Pros:

Cons:

    • There are some typo errors.
    • They don’t provide in-depth info on some topics such as Pathology.  

How Much Is First Aid for the Basic Sciences (Value Pack)?

  • $125.43

Where To Buy First Aid for the Basic Sciences (Value Pack)?

You can grab a copy of First Aid for the Basic Sciences (Value Pack) here.

8. Goljan Rapid Review Pathology

Best USMLE Step 1 Books - TheMDJourney.com

Written by Dr. Edward Goljan–a well-known medical review book author,  Rapid Review Pathology is a useful USMLE Step 1 reviewer that gives you updated information and essential concepts about Pathology.

Key Features:

  • User-friendly as the ebook contains a search interface for easy readability and usage
  • Contains over 500 USMLE-styled practice questions
  • Includes a Student Consult link to give you online access to additional media
  • Contains a formatted outline, colored layouts, and high-yield margin notes and key points focusing on clinical correlation 

What Do Actual Users Think About Goljan Review Pathology? 

Here are some testimonials:

This book is my new Girlfriend (this made me laugh! :D)

Apparently this is the book of all books in medical school. After skimming through it, I can see why. I am going to have a deep relationship with this book. It is highly detailed and highly condensed with all the high yield material and more. I will be using this book along with my classes from day one of medical school. Student consult ebook is gonna be of great use as well! Thanks!

Excellent Path Review, useful for step 1

Really good book for a “Review” of pathology ( a lot of detail). I used this Goljan Rapid Review in my basic sciences and now I will be definitely using it again to study for my step 1. It contains high yield photographs and margin notes which are a quick review of what you need to know. An excellent addition to my step 1 studying material. This book was recommended by one of my professors and I would not agree more.”

Why You Should Or Should Not Buy Goljan Review Pathology?

Here are the pros and cons:

Pros:

    • Fully-packed with illustrations for guided learning on Pathology
    • User-friendly reviewer for the USMLE Step 1

Cons:

    • Some find it too comprehensive for Step 1.
    • Some tables and notes are overloaded with information.

How Much Is Goljan Review Pathology?

  • Ebook version: $39.49 
  • Paperback version: $35.25

Where To Buy Goljan Review Pathology?

Click here to grab a copy of Goljan Review Pathology.

9. USMLE Step 1 Made Ridiculously Simple

Best USMLE Step 1 Books - TheMDJourney.com

If you want a unique review approach, you could use USMLE Step 1 Made Ridiculously Simple. By the name itself, it makes USMLE Step 1 review easy and fun! 

Like my guide how to study for Step 1, this book will also help you learn how to study smart as it is made up of useful mnemonics and funny illustrations that are easy to remember even if you are already practicing as a clinician.

I also love this Made Ridculously Simple series which it’s why it’s one my list of best USMLE Step 1 books that you can use!

Key Features:

  • Covers a wide range of topics including Anatomy, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, and Social Sciences 
  • Contains charts for simplified knowledge assimilation
  • Gives you access to hundreds of practice questions online

What Do Actual Users Think About USMLE Step 1 Made Ridiculously Simple? 

Here are some testimonials:

This book is an awesome starting place.

Studying for boards can be daunting and this is like a super concise outline to work off of. It doesn’t have everything you’ll need but it’s a great place to begin and then build off of. A lot of other board books have too much detail for quick review and can bog you down if you’re just trying to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. I wish it was a little more compact though (combining more tables on to one page with fewer overall pages). An e-book would also be great!”

Great review book for the week before the exam!

I love the outline format and how it really hits all the topics you need to know. It definitely doesn’t go into much detail, but the way it is written allows for plenty of space to make notes, and also to quiz yourself while going through the book. I say everyone should definitely read it the week before their exam.”

Why You Should Or Should Not Buy USMLE Step 1 Made Ridiculously Simple?

Here are the pros and cons:

Pros:

    • Conveys a unique approach by making the USMLE Step 1 review interesting and fun 

Cons:

    • Though it covers the major topics, it’s not comprehensive enough to be used alone for USMLE Step 1 prep.

How Much Is USMLE Step 1 Made Ridiculously Simple?

Paperback version: $24.95

Where To Buy USMLE Step 1 Made Ridiculously Simple?

Click here to buy USMLE Step 1 Made Ridiculously Simple.

10. medEssentials for USMLE Step 1

Best USMLE Step 1 Books - TheMDJourney.com

Unlike the other best USMLE Step 1 books we mentioned, this Kaplan resource is a concise version of the other USMLE Step 1 prep references produced by Kaplan. 

Key Features:

  • Designed according to the core curriculum of the first two years of medical school
  • Discussions are hand-picked of high-yield topics
  • It contains tables, charts, diagrams, and illustrations for better understanding.
  • Provides additional space for note-taking throughout the book
  • A recommended reference for Pharmacology and Biochemistry review

What Do Actual Users Think About medEssentials for USMLE Step 1? 

Here are some testimonials:

Buy it!!

this is an absolutely high yield. I have notes from my Kaplan Lectures, I found most of them all over the book. Every new thing is there. It’s a great investment.”

Great book

I’m just loving it. I definitely recommend it. It’s a must-have for step 1.”

Why You Should Or Should Not Buy medEssentials for USMLE Step 1?

Here are the pros and cons:

Pros:

    • Showcases the entire Kaplan Step 1 prep review resources

Cons:

    • Material durability is questionable 
    • Quite disorganized compared to other best USMLE Step 1 books
    • Can’t be used alone and might be unnecessary if you already have the other Kaplan prep guides.

How Much Is medEssentials for USMLE Step 1?

Paperback version: $22.95

Where To Buy medEssentials for USMLE Step 1?

Click here to grab a copy of medEssentials for USMLE Step 1 now.


There you go! These are the 10 best USMLE Step 1 books that would surely help you get a 250+!


How To Use First Aid For Step 1 [Ultimate Guide]


 

  

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