Thu Aug 28, 2014


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USMLE Step 1 Resources for Feinberg Medical Students


The USMLE Step 1 (more commonly just Step 1 or The Boards) is the first part of the United States Medical Licensure Examination. It assesses whether you understand and can apply important concepts of the sciences basic to the practice of medicine, with special emphasis on principles and mechanisms underlying health, disease, and modes of therapy. Step 1 ensures mastery of not only the sciences that provide a foundation for the safe and competent practice of medicine in the present, but also the scientific principles required for maintenance of competence through lifelong learning. Step 1 is constructed according to an integrated content outline that organizes basic science material along two dimensions: system and process.US medical students typically take Step 1 at the end of the second year of medical school.

Step 1 has approximately 325 multiple-choice test questions, divided into seven 60-minute blocks, administered in one eight-hour testing session. The number of questions per block on a given examination form may vary but will not exceed 46. Between test sections, the test taker is allotted a cumulative 45 minutes (during the test day) for personal breaks. (There is a 15 minute tutorial at the beginning of the exam, which the test-taker can choose to skip and have that time added.) If the taker finishes any section before the allotted one hour time limit, time he remaining is added to the break time total. The test is administered at any of several Prometric computer testing sites located in cities across the USA and Canada.

The USMLE's description of the Step 1 Examination can be found here.

Recommended Books

 (Limit the number you use, but if you need particular help with a particular subject...):

  • First Aid for the USMLE Step 1: Treat this book as your Boards Bible. Learn it, love it, know it. Take all of your notes in this book so that when you review at the end, you only have to go back to one book.
  • Biochemistry: Focus on the key enzymes and clinical consequences. Any one of the following will suffice:
    • Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews: Biochemistry (Champe PC, Harvey RA, Ferrier DR)
    • BRS Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Swanson TA, Kim SI, Glucksman MJ)
    • High-Yield Biochemistry (Wilcox B)
  • Pharmacology: Focus only on those drugs mentioned in First Aid and master the general pharmacology chapter. Helpful resources:
    • Pharmacology Flashcards (Barron)
    • Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews: Pharmacology (Howland RD, Mycek MJ, Harvey RA, et al)
    • Appleton & Lange Review of Pharmacology (Krzanowski JJ)
  • Microbiology: Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple (Gladwin M, Trattler B)
  • Immunology: High-Yield Immunology (Johnson AG) or Medical Microbiology and Immunology (Immunology section only) (Levinson WE)
  • Pathology: Rapid Review Pathology (Goljan EF) or BRS Pathology (Schneider AS, Szanto PA, Kim SI, et al)
  • Physiology: BRS Physiology (Costanzo LS)
  • Anatomy: High-Yield Gross Anatomy (Dudek RW, Louis TM)
  • Embryology: High-Yield Embryology (Dudek RW) or BRS Embryology (Dudek RW)
  • Neuroanatomy: High-Yield Neuroanatomy (Fix JD) or Clinical Neuroanatomy Made Ridiculously Simple (Goldberg S)
  • Behavioral Science: High-Yield Behavioral Science (Fadem B)
  • Histology: High-Yield Histology (Dudek RW)

Practice Questions and Exams (free, non-commercial):

Practice Questions and Exams (not free, commercial):

Other Tips:

  • Do questions! Each night after studying, answer a block of questions on what you studied that day. Towards the end of your studying, complete blocks of random questions to better simulate the real exam.
  • Know the basic pharmacology chapter. The concept of epinephrine reversal will be on your Boards.
  • Consider studying with a friend. You may or may not want to actually study out loud, but at the very least you should have someone you meet everyday and sit with to help get you through. Five weeks is a long time to sit in a room by yourself.
  • Sleep, eat, exercise. Your life doesn't need to stop because you are studying. If you get going early, you should be done in the evening with time to chill out.
  • Don't accidentally stretch your legs and kick out the power cord to the computer. Seriously. This has happened to previous students.

Downloadable PDFs, charts, etc: Login with your netID here

Advice and study techniques from students, survey gathered by AWOME: Step 1 Prep Resources

Dr. Engman's Step 1 Tips (2008): Download PDF

Feinberg Boards Review Lecture Series 2010