The Best USMLE Step 1 Books Ranked

Med-Ace’s top recommended books for Step 1 studying.

#1 First Aid Step 1 2020

Total Pages: 639

Cost:

  • $44.56 (Amazon)

Average Time to Read Cover to Cover

  • 4-6 Pages/Day: 6-7 Months
  • 8-10 Pages/Day: 3-4 Months
  • 14-16 Pages/Day: 2-3 Months

Final Recomendation:

We give this resource our highest level of recommendation. First Aid Step 1 is perhaps the most recognizable Step 1 study resource available. This textbook is loved by medical students for its concise yet comprehensive summary of all the basic science and organ systems topics. This book covers everything you need to know for the USMLE Step 1 in under 650 pages. The illustrations and tables presented in this text are absolutely beautiful. The structure and organization makes it very easy to connect important topics and understand hard concepts. We believe this resource is an essential part of any Step 1 study agenda. 

Learning Value

Everything you need to know for the USMLE Step 1 is included in this text. It is not uncommon for those who scored 260+ in their Step 1 exam to report having read this book 3 or more times. 

Illustration Quality

The illustrations in this textbook are some of the best Step 1 illustrations we have seen. Every chapter is full of high quality images, figures, tables and drawings that make learning easy.

Scope

This book does a great job at covering all the topics which are liable to show up in the USMLE Step 1. It is very rare to find a topic which frequently appears in the exam and is not covered in this book.

Med-Ace Tips for using First Aid Step 1

  • The trick for getting the most benefit from this resource is to read it as many times as possible, simple as that. 
  • First Aid covers so much information that is very hard to get everything in the first pass. It is not common for medical students to read this book twice or more.
  • We recommend you pair this book with a high quality question bank such as UWorld or the official First Aid companion question bank, USMLE-Rx Qmax question bank. 
  • ALWAYS take notes. This textbook is very dense and it is very important to dissect some of the more complex explanations. Most medical students use the margins of the textbook pages to take notes. 
  • ALWAYS play close attention to the illustrations, tables, pictures and graphics. If it comes with an illustration, then it is extremely high yield. 
  • Avoid reading more than 15 pages per day. A common error with this resource is that students read and read but do not actually pay close attention to the information. Prioritize comprehending all the information over covering as many pages as possible. 
  • A good strategy is to read 8-10 pages per day. At this rate, you will finish the book in about 3-4 months and still get a good grasp of the material.  

#2 Crush Step 1 (2nd Edition)

Total Pages: 609

Cost:

  • $43.43 (Amazon)

Average Time to Read Cover to Cover

  • 4-6 Pages/Day: 6-7 Months
  • 8-10 Pages/Day: 3-4 Months
  • 14-16 Pages/Day: 2-3 Months

Final Recomendation:

Crush Step 1 is a suitable alternative to First Aid Step 1. If you enjoy reading textbooks, we highly recommend you check this book out. A unique feature about this book is that since it is published by Elsevier, who also publishes other medical texts, the book includes a wealth of resources, images, and diagrams which are borrowed from other Elsevier texts.  Crush Step 1 is comparable to First Aid in terms of length and content. Although the images are not as impressive, the greater detail and scope make up for it. The book goes into more detail than First Aid and the pages on average are more dense than First Aid. This book resembles a true medical textbook more than First Aid does.

Learning Value

The book is somewhat harder to read than First Aid, however, if you are able to work around this, then this book offers an excellent review of all the Step 1 topics that you need to know.

Illustration Quality

Although the images are not as visually appealing as those found in First Aid, the book does offer a healthy amount of images, tables, diagrams and figures. The images in this book are more reminiscent of those found in traditional medical textbooks.

Scope:

Almost nothing has been left out from this textbook. Like First Aid, this book offer excellent topic coverage. 

Med-Ace Tips for using First Aid Step 1

  • The trick for getting the most benefit from this resource is to read it as many times as possible, simple as that. 
  • Like First Aid, Crush Step 1 covers so much information that is very hard to get everything in the first pass. We recommend reading this book twice or reading First Aid followed by Crush Step 1.
  • We recommend you pair this book with a high quality question bank such as UWorld.
  • ALWAYS take notes. This textbook is very dense and it is very important to dissect some of the more complex explanations. Most medical students use the margins of the textbook pages to take notes. 
  • ALWAYS play close attention to the illustrations, tables, pictures and graphics. If it comes with an illustration, then it is extremely high yield. 
  • Avoid reading more than 12 pages per day. Like First Aid, a common error with this resource is that students read and read but do not actually pay close attention to the information. Prioritize comprehending all the information over covering as many pages as possible. 
  • A good strategy is to read 8-10 pages per day. At this rate, you will finish the book in about 3-4 months and still get a good grasp of the material.  
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