How to Choose the Right USMLE Step 1 Study Resources
- Jun 15, 2016
- Reviewed by: Amy Rontal
Medical students share advice on navigating the choices for Step 1 resources and supplemental materials for students who are just getting started.*
*In October 2017, we published an article that has updated information about popular USMLE Step 1 resources. Check it out here: What Are the Top Step 1 Resources for Med Students?
We asked our customers to share their experience of choosing from a seemingly infinite pool of study resources when constructing a Step 1 study plan. With so many choices, students often find searching for the best resources anxiety provoking. Jessica Truelove, a medical student at the University of New England, told us “When I first started thinking about studying for the USMLE and COMLEX, I was super overwhelmed by the amount of information and resources – I simply didn’t know where to start.” Jessica’s feeling is not uncommon. Many of our users report feeling overwhelmed at the initial stage of the study plan creation process.
When I first started thinking about studying for the USMLE and COMLEX, I was super overwhelmed by the amount of information and resources – I simply didn’t know where to start.
Jessica Truelove, University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
We surveyed over 300 Cram Fighter users who took Step 1 in 2015, and 56% of these users said they were still open to learning about new resources when they signed up for our study plan solution. Because students like you have a lot of options to weigh when selecting their Step 1 resources, Cram Fighter has become an indispensable tool that supports a wide range of study materials, from lectures and books to questions banks and flashcards. To help you with your search, check out our list of supported study resources.
We surveyed over 300 Cram Fighter users who took Step 1 in 2015, and 56% of these users said they were still open to learning about new resources when they signed up for our study plan solution.
Cram Fighter Stats Team
Among Step 1 study books, we have found First Aid, Fundamentals of Pathology, and Board Review Series: Physiology to be most popular among Cram Fighter users. The most popular lectures are Pathoma, SketchyMedical, Kaplan OnlinePrep, and Doctors in Training. For question banks, we find our users choose UWorld, USMLE-Rx, and Kaplan’s Q-Bank. Last, we find the most popular flashcards services are Anki flashcards, USMLE-Rx Flash Facts, and Lange Pharmacology Flashcards. For a complete breakdown of the most popular Step resources for each type of resource, check out our stats page.
If you are having trouble figuring out which resources you will like, take advantage of free trials. Many lecture series, like Pathoma and SketchyMedical, allow you to view a sampling of their videos before signing up for a subscription. When deciding on books, you can take a look at Amazon’s free previews.
Advice from Cram Fighter users on how to combine multiple resources
If you’re stilling feeling overwhelmed, don’t panic! Many students have been in your exact position before. We asked our users how they chose their resources, and why they chose a particular combination for their study plans.
Tufts medical student Matthew Levitsky shared the foundation of his plan with us, saying “the base of my study resources was the popular mnemonic UFAP (UWorld, First Aid, Pathoma).” Our users say that Pathoma works well as a supplement for several reasons. First, as Michael Douglas of Loma Linda School of Medicine points out, “It’s a shorter book, but it really filled in some holes that First Aid left.” In addition, Pathoma’s video lectures give you a different medium to study from. Medical student and Cram Fighter user Katie Williams recalls that “the ability to switch to different media if I was tired of reading or tired of questions was essential.” It’s also important to consider your own preferences and learning style. “I tend to be a visual learner” says Sahil Mehta, founder of Med School Coach, “I liked to be able to pause the videos and restart them. This way I could focus in on areas I was weak.”
We find that 28% of Cram Fighter users combine UWorld, First Aid, and Pathoma in their Step 1 study plans. You can buttress this foundational content with supplemental resources of your choice, based upon the areas where you need extra support. For example, Matthew Levitsky of Tufts suggests a resource called SketchyMicro, an “extremely valuable video series that creates bizarre ways to remember high yield bugs,” that is used by more than 10% of Cram Fighter users.
As a medical student, you’re bound to hear many recommendations and comparisons regarding Step 1 study resources. Students who have had success with Cram Fighter recommend sticking to a few key resources and working through them at a manageable pace. Ethan Young, a medical student at the University of South Dakota, recommends sticking to just a few. “There are a ton of different resources out there and they all have their advantages and disadvantages” he says, “so find a few resources you like and utilize them.” If you do decide to add another resource in the middle of your study plan, Cram Fighter can rebalance your schedule to help you stay on track. We find that on average users make 10 changes to their study plan of the course of their schedule!
There are a ton of different resources out there and they all have their advantages and disadvantages, so find a few resources you like and utilize them.
– Ethan Young, University of South Dakota
USMLE Step 1 Score: 250
For more information on Step 1 resources and study tools, check out our complete list of supported resources.