The Best USMLE Step 3 Review Books of 2019

By May 22, 2019 October 16th, 2019 Medical Book Reviews
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There are three steps in the US Medical Licensure Exam. The second step is then divided into two parts: Clinical Skills (CS) and Clinical Knowledge (CK). In connection with that, CK differs from CS in the sense that you are tested only based on knowledge instead of skills. And, in that regard, you need to be able to equip yourself with the proper USMLE Step 3 review materials so that you will come to the exam with the necessary knowledge to pass or ace the exam.

Our Favorites for Best USMLE Step 3 Review Books (the best out of the bunch)

USMLE Step 3 Lecture Notes by Kaplan Medical

You can never really go wrong by choosing Kaplan when it comes to the USMLE or any other health or medical sciences-related exam. In this regard, Kaplan’s bundled set for the final step of the USMLE combines two books to form a single volume of lecture notes. And since they are lecture notes, they are designed to deliver a review experience that focuses more on delivering you the important concepts covered by the exam.

Both of the books in this bundle are comprehensive and complete in their own right. They cover the topics in an in-depth manner and does not skimp out on the most important details. The lectures focus on case studies as well as on some of the most relevant definitions and concept explanations. And, for a more targeted quick review, the book also contains quick summary boxes.

With over 250 cases discussed in the two books, you will never be short when it comes to the possible situations that might be asked on the day of the exam. In that sense, it contains every possible scenario imaginable so that you will enter the exam equipped with the right amount of knowledge and case study.

This bundled set is pretty reasonably priced for value on Amazon. It contains the most up-to-date information to make sure that you are kept on track on the latest changes in the field of medicine. Choosing these books puts you in the best position to succeed in the USMLE Step 3 as there are no other materials on the market that match how comprehensive and in-depth they are.

What makes it unique:

  • It is a bundled up two-book volume.
  • The books have the perfect mix of thorough content and summary to fit the needs of any kind of medical student taking the USMLE.

Why choose this book:

  • No other material comes as close to this set in terms of complete and in-depth content.
  • Whether you are building your foundational knowledge or simply trying to remember the things you already know, this set fits your needs.

First Aid for the USMLE Step 3 by Tao Le, Vikas Bhushan

Still ranked as one of the best books you can use for the USMLE, First Aid’s material for Step 3 is just as popular and as successful as any of their three other books. That said, it works as a standalone book that is consistently updated to make sure that all of the necessary information and changes are reflected.

Because the authors know what the students want, the book contains information and strategies that medical students themselves would simply die to know. It contains a lot of test-taking strategies that are both efficient and practical to use on the day of the exam. All of those strategies have been tried and tested by past students and were specifically designed to fit the USMLE Step 3.

When it comes to content, this book stands out with its full-colored design and on its emphasis on images and diagrams that make studying more interesting. Moreover, it has 100 mini cases that help give you an idea of what to expect on the day of the actual USMLE Step 3. Finally, it comes with flash cards that you can use any time of the day to test out your level of preparedness. That said, it as well-rounded as any other material you can find on the market.

For its price, First Aid for USMLE Step 3 is a great option for anyone looking for a well-rounded and balanced book that contains a lot of useful information and concepts needed to ace the USMLE Step 3. It is so complete and useful that it is even sometimes called the Bible of medical students who are taking Step 3 of the USMLE.

What makes it unique:

  • It is consistently updated depending on the recent changes on what former medical students and current medical professionals believe should be included or omitted.
  • The mini cases scattered all over the book will help give you a sense of what to expect on the day of the exam.

Why choose this book:

  • This book is a great choice for those looking for a complete all-around material that does not only contain a good content review but also other information that can give you an advantage.
  • It works well as a standalone book that hardly needs supplementary or complementary materials.

The Runners-Up for Best USMLE Step 3 Review Books (still good but a little lacking)

USMLE Step 3 Qbook by Kaplan Medical

You have probably oriented yourself about how well Kaplan performs in the industry when it comes to prep books for health and medical sciences. In that regard, this Qbook by Kaplan Medical is a great option for anyone looking to hone their skills and knowledge in answering questions as it is a material that focuses more on practice questions.

Functioning more as a complementary material for Kaplan’s lecture notes or for any other comprehensive review book for that matter, this study guide contains 850 questions that are similar to the ones in the actual USMLE Step 3. With that, you will never run out of questions to practice your knowledge on and to help gauge yourself for the exam. Each of those questions has answer explanations so that you will not be left wondering and asking yourself where you went wrong.

While this material functions as a Qbook, it still delivers in some other areas as well. It actually contains test-taking strategies that can help guide you on how to tackle the actual exam. It even gives you access to an online question bank that contains even more material in case you feel like the book is not enough for your needs.

For its price, USMLE Step 3 Qbook might be a bit expensive for a Qbook but it is worth the cost if you consider the fact that no other book on the market has its wealth of high-quality questions. As mentioned, it should be used in conjunction with any other comprehensive review book is it tests out how well you have reviewed those prep materials.

What makes it unique:

  • It focuses mainly on giving you review questions designed to mimic USMLE’s style.
  • The book’s answer explanations may also work as a content review portion though it might not be as in-depth as actual review books.

Why choose this book:

  • Practice is essential when answering a high-stakes exam. In that regard, choosing this book means that you will have enough questions to practice your knowledge on.
  • It works well as a complementary material to any other in-depth review book you might choose as your main reference.

USMLE Step 3 Secrets by Theodore O’Connell, Thomas Blair, Ryan Pedigo

This book is another material that has a unique style and approach in helping you review for the USMLE Step 3. In a sense, it has a refreshing style that breaks away from the monotonous content-based approach that most review books on the market have. Because of that, it has become one of the more popular study guides on the market.

With the student in the mind of the authors, this book was written in a way that engages your attention and makes you feel interested. It has a simple approach that is quite easy to understand because it does not have a lot of flair or flash. That makes it easier for students to remember its contents. And, for visual learners, it also has illustrations and diagrams that easily explains certain topics and concepts.

This book’s expertise is delivering tips and strategies that you would not find in all other materials. Called “secrets”, these tips and strategies were perfectly designed to help you know how to get into the mind of the exam writer and how to efficiently answer all of the different types of questions you will be encountering in the exam.

With its price tag, it is a book that is worth every penny because it is both affordable and useful. It might not be as comprehensive as some of the other books on this list but it makes your review easier and more interesting. Former students rave about it on Amazon because of how easy it is to understand and how concise it is at helping you prepare for the USMLE Step 3.

What makes it unique:

  • It is written in an easy-to-understand format that fits the needs of a medical student.
  • The book contains a lot of pro tips that help you succeed in answering the test questions efficiently.

Why choose this book:

  • It really is a good option for you if you want a complementary book that contains information you cannot find elsewhere.

The Best Value for Your Money for Best USMLE Step 3 Review Books (good and affordable)

Master the Boards USMLE Step 3 by Conrad Fischer

Published by Kaplan, this book surely is a high-quality material that can help you in a holistic yet concise way. Some would say that the Master the Boards series is a congested version of Kaplan’s lecture notes. However, it can also be called as standalone books that are already complete and useful on their own.

Unlike the lecture notes, Master the Boards has a lot of other useful content. It contains has a step-by-step way of building your foundational knowledge and understanding of the topics covered by the exam. Moreover, it gives you tips and techniques that are essential in answering the type of questions you will be encountering during the USMLE Step 3. And on top of all that, the review portion of the book looks well-organized and easy to understand because of its efficient use of full-colored images and diagrams.

For its price on Amazon, Master the Boards USMLE Step 3 is by far the best value for your money on the market. But, despite its light price tag, it does not skimp out on quality and content and is quickly becoming one of the more popular series of medical books in Kaplan’s roster of prep materials. While some students did not find it essential, it is nonetheless a useful book for those looking for a more concise and condensed review material.

What makes it unique:

  • Its step-by-step approach seems easy to follow because of how logically sound it is.
  • The book is quite easy to understand because of how well it used images and diagrams to make certain concepts more digestible.

Why choose this book:

  • This book works well for anyone looking for a concise yet still complete review material.
  • It is also a good choice for you if you prefer books that are easier to follow and comprehend.

Summary of the Best USMLE Step 3 Review Books

We’ve gone over a lot today. Here’s a helpful table to consolidate every USMLE Step 3 review book we went over:

ProductList PriceNumber Of Pages
USMLE Step 3 Lecture Notes 2019-2020 $149.99 980
First Aid for the USMLE Step 3, Fifth Edition $50.00 512
USMLE Step 3 QBook (USMLE Prep)SIXTH EDITION $44.99 624
USMLE Step 3 Secrets $42.99 400
Master the Boards USMLE Step 3 $54.99 640

Step 3 of the USMLE is by far the heaviest part of the entire three-step process. It will take you two whole days to finish the entire step as it covers a lot of topics necessary to assess how well you can apply your knowledge and skills for practicing medicine unsupervised. That said, we recommend you to use any of our choices of USMLE Step 3 prep books so that your chances of succeeding in such a high-stakes exam will skyrocket.

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