LifeSavers

Okay, so I’ve been asked quite a few times about what resources helped me get through medical school so far. After answering this same question over and over again, I finally decided to compile a page of the resources that have literally been my saving grace. Keep in mind that this list is NOT all-inclusive. There are definitely other great resources out there. This is just a compilation of the heavy-duty resources that kept me afloat, along with a few others that I heard great things about from multiple people. Before I get into the resources, I just want to make a few things clear:

  • I will be continuously updating this section with new resources as I climb higher in the med school totem pole.
  • I’m not much of a textbook guy…so there will be very few textbook recommendations here.
    • I primarily use textbooks as a reference.
    • I also use them for images/charts/diagrams that I can print out and keep with me as paper copies.
  • Charts and pictures helped me a TON, especially in Anatomy, Biochemistry, Cardiology, Renal, Endocrinology & Reproductive Systems .
  • Everyone has their own unique way of learning and synthesizing information.
    • These resources may prove to be very helpful for many of you.
    • On the other hand, they may not be of much use to some of you.
    • If you do choose to use these resources, don’t be afraid to utilize them in your own unique way. Do whatever works for you.
  • Items with * are resources that I haven’t used yet but definitely intend to use in the future.
  • Items with ** are resources that I either use very little of or don’t plan on using. However, I have heard very good things about them from classmates and friends.
    • It’s worthwhile to check them out and see if they work for you.
    • I personally tried them and they just didn’t work for me.
  • Keep in mind that just because I link a blog or a website does NOT mean I 100% endorse EVERYTHING they say. At the end of the day, opinions are opinions. Even I have opinions.
    • My goal isn’t to give you all the answers, because I don’t have them all. I’m still learning as I go along.
      • I just want to provide a multitude of resources that can be found in one place for your convenience.
    • I believe that you can learn many things from something or someone, even if you don’t necessarily agree with everything they say or do.
      • With that said, take what you want from what they say. Use their advice to help you in whatever way you feel is beneficial to you.

Now for the actual resources a.k.a the reason that you clicked on this link in the first place:


General Resources:

First Aid

  • This comprehensive review book of basic science high-yield facts is a MUST-HAVE for Step 1 prep! I was very fortunate to receive the 2016 edition from my school for free during my first year, so I went ahead and used it alongside my coursework. I used it heavily during my second year and was an absolute necessity while I prepared for my Step 1 Examination! Definitely get your hands on this book sooner rather than later!
  • I came across an article regarding some mistakes that students tend to make while using First Aid. Take a look!

SketchyMedical

  • I first heard about how wonderful this resource was halfway through my Anatomy block, well before I had any use for it. After it made my life considerably easier during my Cellular/Subcellular and Neuroscience blocks, I can fully attest that SketchyMedical is a godsend. This program applies visual spatial memory strategies by using unique pictures to help you recall specific information about bacteria, viruses, drugs & their side-effects, etc. It’s SO worth the investment!

Pathoma

  • Along with First Aid, I was fortunate enough to be provided with this comprehensive pathology review book by my school. This is another MUST-HAVE for Step 1 preparation. The book (it also comes with corresponding online videos) goes over pretty much all the high-yield pathology you’ll need in order to perform well on the Step 1 exam. I integrated the information from this book into my studies during my first two years of coursework and it was definitely helpful for me. I heavily used this book as well during my Step Study Period and was extremely glad that I did so!

Firecracker

  • This popular, personalized flashcard program uses the strategy of spaced repetition to facilitate long-term memory of important concepts. You can also use it to review specific topics via provided study guides and flashcard quizzes. I bought an 18-month subscription during my Cellular/Subcellular block, but I didn’t efficiently use it until I got to Neuroscience. My school also ended up purchasing the program for us and I was able to get a refund for my previous purchase! It was a central part of my studies up until my Step Study Period and although I didn’t personally use it while studying for Step, there are study materials within the program that are specific for Step 1. Keep in mind that this resource isn’t for everyone and that, although helpful, it’s not necessarily considered a “must-have” to succeed. You may not feel that this resource is for you, and that’s okay. However, if you do decide to use Firecracker, I would recommend starting to use it well before your dedicated Step study period due to its long-term approach of test preparation.

Doctors In Training

  • This resource is known for its highly informative videos that tend to highly correspond with First Aid. These videos also come with worksheets that can be filled out in order to serve as study guides. Doctors In Training, or DIT for short, has been used by many students preparing for all three Step exams as well as students preparing for the COMLEX exams. I’ve had the opportunity to use this program and I must say, they really do a wonderful job describing the material that’s tested on the board exams. This resource is pretty pricey, but the company does work to give various discounts to students looking to use DIT! Always remember, what you put into your studies is directly related to what your end result will be. A great investment in your future is never a waste of money!

Google

  • Do NOT underestimate the power of Google. I’ve probably used Google more than any other resource on this list. It’s free, efficient, and all-knowing. So why wouldn’t I use it to its full potential?

Wikipedia

  • Just as you shouldn’t underestimate Google’s power, you should not underestimate the usefulness of Wikipedia. Sure, there’s always a chance that someone could edit it to whatever they wanted…but I personally have yet to run into that problem. For the most part, it is a very informative resource and just like Google, it’s free and efficient. However, if it REALLY bothers you that the information you’re reading may not be accurate, there are links on the bottom of most Wikipedia pages that will link you to their source of information. If all else fails, just click on another link in your Google search.

UWorld QBank

  • This resource is pretty much required for Step 1 preparation. I used this resource intensely during my preparation for Step 1 and it was single-handedly the best thing I could have done to prepare myself for that exam! As a matter of fact, it was the main study tool that I used during my Step Study Period! This extremely popular question bank, which contains almost 2500 questions, not only contains high-yield conceptual questions, but also provides detailed explanations to all the incorrect answers you’ll come across. There are also two simulated exams that you can purchase along with the question bank that I would highly recommend purchasing! Shelling out some loan money for this resource was definitely a very wise investment!
  • I did come across some interesting articles regarding UWorld that I wanted to share. Do what you wish with this information, I am merely providing it.

Kaplan QBank

  • This is the question bank that I used alongside my coursework and I was pretty impressed at what it had to offer during the time I utilized it! There are 2000+ practice questions in this bank, and each question has very thorough explanations as to why one answer is right and the others are wrong. In addition, the QBank tracks your progress as you answer each question and analyzes your performance over time, giving it a very personalized feel. You can even simulate full-length practice exams on the interface! I feel like the questions that I completed really challenged my understanding of the relevant material I had been studying. I also was able to snag a huge discount on the QBank thanks to both my AMA membership and my attendance at a lunch talk promoting this product! Last but not least, this QBank was highly recommended by almost all of the 3rd and 4th years that I’ve talked to regarding Step preparation, so there you go!

USMLE Rx QBank**

  • So I had initially planned on using this question bank alongside my coursework in my second-year, but I personally decided to go with the Kaplan QBank instead. However, I do have some friends who used this and they definitely love it. I’ve also heard some good things about it from some of my friends in classes above me, but I also have heard from some other upperclassmen that they would have preferred to have prepped with another QBank. You just gotta see what works for you. Like UWorld, it’s a source of high-yield, conceptual questions that you can practice with and learn from. It’s also designed to be in sync with First Aid, which is a big plus!

Anki

  • Now, I have a number of classmates that swear by this resource. This flashcard system is designed like Firecracker in that it uses a spaced repetition approach to develop knowledge about a particular subject. Unlike Firecracker however, this platform is free! But with that said, you do have to make to make your own flash cards. So in essence, Anki is literally making your own flashcards on a computer and having the computer shuffle the deck to your benefit. I’ve personally used it here and there, but not at all to the extent that I use most of the resources on this page, much less to the extent that some of my classmates & friends use it. Nonetheless, it’s a fabulous resource to know about! Who knows, this platform may become your very best friend!
  • Here’s an article I came across that talks about using Anki in a way that was effective for a student who scored a 270 on his Step 1 exam. Again, do whatever you wish with this information.
  • Update: I actually (unexpectedly) ended up using Anki during my Step Study Period and primarily utilized the Step 1 Anki deck that the creator of Yousmle.com put together. I found that the deck really helped me not only solidify important concepts relevant to Step, but also really helped me with retention of the knowledge that I was gaining! After that experience during my Step Study Period, I think that I’ll be using Anki more often throughout my clerkship years!

Crush Step 1

  • This is definitely one resource that I wish I got my hands on earlier. Some people like to call it “First Aid in paragraph-form”. I stumbled upon it during my Dermatology block and it proved to be pretty helpful. Then it literally saved my ass during my Renal block! After witnessing the magic of its capabilities firsthand, I continued to use it heavily during the rest of my second-year courses (Musculoskeletal/Rheumatology & Endocrinology/Reproductive Systems Blocks). It would have been a very-handy resource to have had earlier in medical school, but I’m just glad that I was able to come across it when I did! I then primarily used it as a reference text during my Step Study Period, where it continued to be pretty useful! If I were you, I would give this review book a look sooner rather than later in order to see how well it’ll work for you in the long run!

Lectures/Professors

  • At the end of the day, your subject tests are (for the most part) going to be entirely dependent on your professors and the lectures that they make. You definitely should NOT neglect these, especially if your professors are the ones writing the questions to your exams. Also feel free to use your professors as resources if they make themselves available, but be aware that you aren’t the only student trying to compete with his/her attention.

First Year Resources:

(Unless otherwise statedI typically used the General Resources above for the courses listed below with minimal additional resources. Especially Google. And First Aid, SketchyMedical, Wikipedia, Pathoma & Firecracker. Don’t sleep on Google tho.)

Second Year Resources:

  • Hematology/Oncology
  • Cardiology
  • Pulmonology 
    • BRS Physiology (I should have used this in some of my prior courses…)
  • Gastroenterology
  • Dermatology
  • Renal
  • Musculoskeletal/Rheumatology
  • Endocrinology/Reproduction

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