The Best USMLE Step 2 CS Review Books of 2019

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The US Medical Licensure Exam is a three-step process. Step 2 is divided into two parts (CS and CK). In this regard, the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) assesses how you can apply your knowledge and skills of the clinical sciences as opposed to merely testing your clinical knowledge. That said, you need a USMLE Step 2 CS review book that not only builds our knowledge of the clinical sciences but also helps you apply your practical skills.

Our Favorites for the Best USMLE Step 2 CS Review Books (the best out of the bunch)

First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 CS By Tao Le, Vikas Bhushan

First Aid has been one of the most successful series of prep books used for the USMLE. This book for the Step 2 CS is a top choice among medical professionals and students alike as it helps you prepare for the exam in a thorough manner. It is also consistently updated so as to give you the most relevant information.

Since Step 2 CS of the USMLE is all about applying your clinical skills, First Aid helps you review for the exam by providing you with a prep guide that contains the most frequently tested cases as well as giving you proven and helpful tips and strategies that can help you out in most clinical encounters.

The book contains 44 full-length practice cases which are similar to the actual ones you will be encountering during the exam. On top of that, it also has 39 mini cases that represent the most common complaints in the field. All of those cases are designed not only to help improve your practical skills but to also develop how you can quickly come up with a set of diagnosis in the different set of cases you will be encountering not only in the exam but also in practice.

For its price, First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 CS is an affordable review material that has garnered a lot of five stars. It is highly regarded for how organized and easy to read it is. However, what most satisfied users find good about it is that it consistently keeps improving every year as the authors make it a point to update the book based on professional feedback.

What makes it unique:

  • It includes the most relevant questions.
  • The practice cases mirror the actual ones in the exam.
  • It is updated based on feedback and on concepts taken from students and professionals alike.

Why choose this book:

  • It is a book that is never short of cases for you to use for practice.
  • This book always stays relevant as it is consistently updated.


Kaplan Step 2 CS Lecture Notes by Kaplan Medical

Kaplan Medical knows what you need for the USMLE Step 2 CS and how you can excel in the exam. In terms of standard, no other giant in the industry can perform as well as Kaplan when it comes to the medical sciences. In this regard, their book for Step 2 CS of the MLE is a fantastic material full of lecture notes that are designed to make preparing for this exam easier.

As a book filled with lecture notes, you get a step-by-step process of how to master the skills needed for you to complete all of the exam’s 12 cases both efficiently and effortlessly. In that regard, the notes contain detailed descriptions and differential diagnostic studies that are presented in an organized, easy-to-understand, and concise manner to make it so simple for students to digest.

This book contains over 30 cases that are similar to the ones in the USMLE. You also get strategies on how to master standardized patient encounters as well as tips on how to express differential diagnosis. The 324-page book seems basic but it has everything you need for the affordable price on Amazon.

What makes it unique:

  • The cases mimic the actual ones in the USMLE.
  • It has strategies that help you with how to tackle the most common problems that arise during the exam.

Why choose this book:

  • When it comes to tips and strategies, this book is a mile ahead compared to other books.
  • It was able to cram a comprehensive and informative prep guide in a short and concise book.


The Runner-Up for the Best USMLE Step 2 CS Review Books (still good but a little lacking)

Kaplan USMLE Step 2 CS Complex Cases by Kaplan Medical

While the other Kaplan book on this list tackled regular cases that are commonly encountered in the USMLE or in practice, this book by the same publisher contains complex and advanced cases. These cases are considered a lot more challenging than the ones that are normally in the exam or in other books.

Though the cases in the exam are not as challenging as the ones this book has, what is good about these complex cases is that they build you up to be able to handle easier ones faster and more efficiently. After all, if you are so used to challenging cases, you probably will find simple ones quite easier to answer both in the exam and when you are already practicing.

However, if you find these cases too challenging, the book has a simple way of explaining them so that you can easily adopt and understand them. It also explains how to tackle differential diagnosis and physical exams in a clear and concise way. At its price, Kaplan’s Step 2 study guide is actually an affordable book to have by your side if you want something to challenge your medical mind.

What makes it unique:

  • It contains cases that are more complex than the ones you will find in other books or even in the exam.
  • The book was able to explain these complex cases in a manner that can easily be adopted by any student.

Why choose this book:

  • If you want more challenging cases to hone your clinical skills, this is probably the best choice for you.


The Best Value for Your Money for the Best USMLE Step 2 CS Review Books (good and affordable)

Beat the USMLE Step 2 CS by James Lawrence III, Vinnie Leduc

Not one of the more popular books for the USMLE, Beat the USMLE Step 2 CS is a quality prep material nevertheless. It is a unique material on its own precisely because it covers only pro tips on how to get the best out of the USMLE Step 2 CS. That said, it works only as a complementary study guide to your other books.

The advice you can get from this book are the types that you cannot find elsewhere. These are tips and tricks that are unique only to this book and are quite helpful when it comes to getting the best score during the exam. The contents focus merely on that aspect. In that regard, it is understandable why this material only has 56 pages.

For its price, it is a great value for your money especially if you are looking for a book that complements your other study materials. Rather than spending on another book with tips and strategies but merely replicate the contents found in your main material, it is better for you to go for this one instead.

What makes it unique:

  • It focuses only on tips and strategies.
  • The tricks, called “pro tips”, are considered to be expert strategies that the best doctors use in the field.

Why choose this book:

  • It was never meant to be your main source material but it works well nevertheless to help equip you with the proper tips and tricks you can use both in the exam and during practice.


Summary of the Best USMLE Step 2 CS Review Books

Here’s a table of what USMLE Step 2 CS review books we evaluated:

ProductList PriceNumber Of Pages
First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 CS, Sixth Edition $55.00 640
USMLE Step 2 CS Lecture Notes 2019 $49.99 324
USMLE Step 2 CS Complex Cases $44.99 228
Beat the USMLE Step 2 CS N/A 19

The USMLE Step 2 CS is a unique exam on its own because of how it assesses the way you handle real-life cases. You will be tested using 12 patient encounters wherein you are tasked to assess the case and give your own diagnosis. That said, you need a book that is able to equip you with the right amount of case practice and experience necessary to help build confidence and knowledge. Our choice of USMLE Step 2 CS review books will never fail you in that regard.


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