Medical student resources

Review: First Aid for the USMLE Step 1

Basics of the First Aid for the USMLE Step 1

First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 is part of the highly successful McGraw-Hill "First Aid" series. It pulls together a wide range of high yield step 1 material under a single cover.

For $37.24, this book is the starting point for many students' step 1 prep.

Purchasing information: First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2014 (First Aid Series)

How the book is organized

The book is organized by general topic in the basic sciences (microbiology, biochemistry, etc.) and clinical sciences (neurology, cardiology, etc.).

While there are chapters on pathology and pharmacology, the details of these topics are distributed into the individual subdisciplines. The various nephropathologies, for example, are catalogued in the renal section, and so on. There is no explicit anatomy section, but like path and pharm, anatomy topics are distributed throughout the relevant subdiscipline chapters.

Positives and Negatives

Over all, this book does a fantastic job of cramming a huge amount of information into a few hundred pages.

One of the best sections is at the end and shows 100+ photos of high yield conditions.

I found the Microbiology section very well organized and, while thanfully not exhaustive, sufficiently complete to hit all the important micro topics on the exam.

The endocrine section is a tad out of date. It's not awful - it does a good job covering classical endocrinology topics - but most of the new hormones and pathways dealing with obesity and modern diabetes topics are missing. Perhaps this is a calculated decision because the authors know that that material will not show up on the real exam.

The biochemistry section had a lot of good information - but the problem with this review, like many others, is that it doesn't succeed at pulling all the different reactions into the context of the physiology. It tries sometimes, but ultimately it leaves one with the impression that there are a bunch of unrelated and unconnected biochemical reactions that all take part independently in the body. This is unavoidable to some extent, but if I were to recommend one change the biochem section it would be to give a slightly higher-level connection schematic of the various pathways.

Relevance to the real USMLE Step 1

I've spoken to several students who used First Aid and found it very helpful in organizing their review. Some lecture-review companies even organize their lectures around First Aid.

First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 Summary

This is a well-thought out and well-organized review of materials covered by in the real exam - a definite thumbs up!

Other USMLE Resources

Other Resources

USMLE tutoring criteria and recommended services.

USMLE test prep information and options.

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