The Best USMLE Step 1 Review Books of 2019

By May 5, 2019 October 16th, 2019 Medical Book Reviews
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There are three steps involved in the medical licensure exam in the United States. Called the USMLE, this three-step process ensures that the physician was able to fully master the application of the skills and knowledge needed for him/her to practice medicine in a safe manner. In that regard, Step 1 assesses your mastery of the fundamental sciences in the medical field. With that, it is important for you to be able to equip yourself with the basic knowledge of those topics using our top choices of USMLE Step 1 review books.

Our Favorites for the Best USMLE Step 1 Review Books (the best out of the bunch)

USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes by Kaplan Medical

Kaplan has always been a leader in the field of medical science. In this regard, it will never fail you in your preparation for Step 1 of the USMLE with this seven-book volume set that is designed to give you the right amount of support and information in the topics covered by the test.

Each book in this volume is already a comprehensive study guide on their own in the sense that they all contain thorough lectures on the topics covered by the USMLE Step 1. In that regard, there are over 2,700 content-filled pages that were designed to enhance, bolster, and also build your foundational knowledge of the subject areas you need to master in time for the exam.

Despite how comprehensive the books are, the good part is that they do not seem heavy or boring to read because of how well-organized the contents are. There are even summary boxes that you can use if you want a quicker and more targeted review in the times that you do not have enough time left to read the entire volume. Another great aspect about these books is that they are able to correlate one discipline or study to another so that you can see how every topic is connected.

Considered one of the best review books by thousands of medical students, who use them every year, there is probably nothing that Kaplan Medical cannot do to help you pass Step 1 of the USMLE. And, for seven books, this volume is reasonably priced on Amazon. If you think about it, you will be paying only typically under $30 for each book. In that sense, it is a great value for your money and an even better investment for your future.

What makes it unique:

  • It is a seven-book volume.
  • The books were written in the most comprehensive manner possible to cover all of the topics you need to master for the exam.
  • For a quick review, there are summary boxes on every book.

Why choose this book:

  • This seven-book volume is nothing short of complete. If you want to master your foundational skills, these books should be your top choices.
  • Its books are well-organized and can seem like really light reads even though you need hundreds of hours to read all 2,700+ pages.


First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 by Tao Le, Vikas Bhushan

Some would call this the essential book for anyone reviewing and preparing for Step 1 of the USMLE. At some points, it might even work as the Bible for medical students. This is because it is a complete and comprehensive book that gives you the right combination of knowledge and skills in preparation for the USMLE Step 1.

One good thing about this book is that it is annually updated to fit the changing needs of the medical student. On top of that, it is also co-authored every year by medical students who have just gone through the rigors of the entire USMLE. This ensures that this book’s contents are fresh, new, and relevant to current medical students.

Also, the book has a comprehensive content review that manages to put together an entire framework that connects one topic to another so that you will be able to see the correlations of the different studies covered by Step 1 of the USMLE. The good part about it is that it does not seem boring because of how the authors were able to creatively use images and diagrams that make studying this well-organized book so easy and interesting.

For its price, this book is a lot more affordable than Kaplan’s seven-book volume and already serves as a complete study guide on its own. It is consistently rated five stars on Amazon and is also called the go-to book for any medical students looking to perform well or even ace Step 1 of the USMLE.

What makes it unique:

  • The fully colored pages are refreshing to the eyes.
  • It has a comprehensive and in-depth review portion that isn’t as time-consuming as some other books.

Why choose this book:

  • The reason why it is a go-to book for a lot of medical students is that it is already a complete material for a price that isn’t too expensive.
  • Despite not being as lengthy as some other books, it is already a great standalone study aid for Step 1 of the USMLE.


The Runners-Up for the Best USMLE Step 1 Review Books (still good but a little lacking)

Crush Step 1: The Ultimate USMLE Step 1 Review by Theodore O’Connell, Ryan Pedigo, Thomas Blair

Want to crush the USMLE Step 1? Then this book will help you make minced meat out of it. Crush Step 1 is a book that covers all of the necessary topics and subjects you need to not only pass the exam but to actually ace it, according to the authors of this prep material.

With this updated prep book, you will not have any problem finding the most relevant information as the authors make sure that what they have written in this book are as up-to-date as possible. The good part is that the book was written well enough to be easily understandable for any kind of medical student.

While this book is not the lengthiest reads, it makes things a lot easier for those looking for a quick review. The sections are divided well enough for you to be able to follow them well. There are even summary boxes that make things easier and faster for students looking to breeze through the book in a rapid manner.

Another good quality that makes this book great is that it helps you identify strategies that can help you understand the way you can handle the questions on the day of the exam. It just does not equip you with the right amount of knowledge but it also builds the way you tackle the exam questions. In that sense, it will be able to crush the USMLE Step 1 even though you are under pressure.

For its price, Cursh Step 1: The Ultimate USMLE Step 1 Review is one of the more affordable study materials you can get for the USMLE Step 1. It might not be the most complete prep book but it does its job well to build your knowledge and your strategies before the exam. In that regard, most medical students on Amazon say that it works best as a supplementary material or a companion book to other study guides.

What makes it unique:

  • It is written in an easy-to-understand format.
  • There are practice questions that are very similar to ones you will be encountering in the USMLE.

Why choose this book:

  • This book is a concise material that might not be the most complete guide on the market but works well to supplement your other books.


USMLE Step 1 Preparation Secrets Study Guide by USMLE Exam Secrets Test Prep Team

What is the secret to passing or even topping the USMLE Step 1? Well, Secrets Study Guide has every secret you need to know to ace that exam. One of the more short and concise review books on the market, this material helps you master your fundamental knowledge of the basic topics covered by Step 1 of the USMLE.

Though this book only has more than 400 pages, it does have an overview of the USMLE Step 1 and gives you a lot of tips to help you master the right way to tackle and answer the exam. On top of that, this overview helps you understand the procedures and the principles you need to know to perform well in the USMLE Step 1.

One other great feature that this book has is that it makes understanding difficult concepts easier. It has explained in great detail certain complicated principles to the point that it will be quicker for you to digest them. That way, you would not have to waste a lot of time understanding things that are normally difficult to grasp.

One knock on this book is that it is too basic. It does not have diagrams or images that can make reviewing easier and more interesting. While the book might have delivered the review portions better, it is still worth your while and your consideration. Knowing its latest price here on Amazon is important in deciding if this is right for you. Just know that this study guide has garnered a lot of five star reviews due to the fact that it is quite easy to understand.

What makes it unique:

  • The topics are explained in a thorough and in a manner that is easy to understand.
  • It gives you tactics and tips that can give you the edge on the day of the exam.

Why choose this book:

  • This is the best choice for you if you are looking for a short and concise book that does not waste a lot of time.


The Best Value for Your Money for the Best USMLE Step 1 Review Books (good and affordable)

USMLE Step 1 Qbook by Kaplan Medical

This book is the companion material to the seven-book volume by Kaplan Medical. Because those seven books are purely lecture notes, you need a material that helps you apply your practical knowledge. In that regard, this Qbook contains questions to help you adjust to the type of questions you will be encountering in the exam.

Kaplan’s Qbook contains 850 questions that are so similar to the ones in the USMLE Step 1. In that regard, you will be able to feel what it is like to answer the actual exam. On top of that, you also get practice sets for all of the topics relevant to the USMLE Step 1. All of the questions have their own answers and explanations.

While this book focuses on practice questions, it also has tips and strategies that you can use to perform better on the exam. There are even study techniques that help you get the most out of what little time you have during your review.

Considered the best question bank on Amazon and beloved for its challenging sets of practice questions, this Qbook is one companion material you should have by your side. And the best part is that it is a great value for your money because it is affordably priced on Amazon. It makes for a great material to use alongside your seven-book volume or any other thorough study guide.

What makes it unique:

  • It focuses on practice questions.
  • The practice questions are very USMLE-like.

Why choose this book:

  • Practice is necessary to top any exam. In that regard, 850 challenging questions will surely give you enough practice to ace the USMLE Step 1.


Summary of the Best USMLE Step 1 Review Books

Putting everything together, in this guide we reviewed the following:

ProductList PriceNumber Of Pages
USMLE Step 1 Lecture Notes 2019 $329.99 2624
First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2019 $55.00 816
Crush Step 1 $44.99 704
USMLE Step 1 Preparation Secrets Study Guide $91.99 424
USMLE Step 1 Qbook $49.99 468

Because Step 1 of the USMLE is all about testing and assessing your basic knowledge of the sciences that form the medical field, you need to build your fundamental skills. And, since it is an eight-hour long exam, it is both a test of knowledge and endurance. While testing your mental and physical endurance is one thing, building your knowledge and skills is another. In that regard, choosing any of our top USMLE Step 1 review books will surely cover everything you need to know to make answering the eight-hour test a lot easier.

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