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  • Writer's pictureMichael Dworkin, MD

The best resources for USMLE Step 1

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Among the myriad resources for USMLE Step 1 preparation, which are the best? Read on!

We recommend active learning through practice questions and spaced repetition as the cornerstones of your learning.

Scoring 240+ on USMLE Step 1 requires a strong fund of knowledge and test-taking strategies finely tuned for the USMLE exams. While the following resources can help build your fund of knowledge, a MedSchoolGuru can help you hone your test taking skills and help you minimize the cognitive traps students commonly fall for during the exam. Fill out the contact form at to schedule a free consultation.

Question Banks

NBME Exams, UWorld, USMLE Rx are great resources. If you have additional time on your hands, consider using AMBOSS and Kaplan.

Studies of USMLE Step 1 scores have shown that the more questions you do, the higher your score will be. Your Guru will work with you to determine how many questions to do per day, from which resources, and in which subjects, to help you achieve your goals. Check out our post on how these exams predict your actual USMLE score and our post on how to convert percent correct into a 3-digit USMLE score.

Anki Decks

Spaced repetition through diligent use of Anki flashcards is an effective and efficient evidence based way to retain information throughout your long study period. There are a number of free Anki decks available online. MedSchoolGurus offers its students the MedSchoolGurus Step 1 Anki Deck. Whether you use our deck or a free deck, Anki should be a part of your daily study routine. Your Guru will help you set up your Anki decks and settings. Check out our post on how to use Anki during medical school.

Video Resources

The best video based resources are Pathoma and Sketchy Micro. Boards and Beyond is a great resource if you have a bit more time to prepare. OnlineMedEd has excellent videos for psychiatry.


The best textbooks for boards are First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, and Crush Step 1. First Aid is essentially a bullet point checklist of facts one should plan to study. Crush Step 1 is a great resource if you'd like to read a concise paragraph about how something you don't understand works. Goljan's Rapid Review Pathology is an excellent reference which can be used to supplement areas in which you want more clarification or information.



Anatomy is difficult. The best resources are First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, Dr. Mavrych's 125 Most Important Anatomical Conceptions, the MedSchoolGurus Anki Decks, and Lippincott's Illustrated Q&A Review of Anatomy and Embryology (contains about 400 USMLE style anatomy questions).

Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Genetics.

Another tough area for students. The best resources are First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, the MedSchoolGurus Anki Decks, and Lippincott's Illustrated Q&A Review of Biochemistry (contains about 400 USMLE style questions).

There is no substitute for good advice and guidance. For help on how to set up a USMLE schedule, advice on how to use these resources, tips on how to maximize your efficiency in going through these resources, and personalized 1:1 sessions designed to identify your strengths and address your weaknesses, contact us to set up a free consultation.


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