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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Mark Erickson, BS (University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine)
Description: This update of a review for medical students preparing for Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) contains strategies for preparing for the exam as well as review information thought to be relevant to the exam. The information is divided into mini-topics that use key words, pictures, and phrases to jog students' memory.
Purpose: The purpose is to help medical students and international medical graduates prepare for the USMLE Step 1. This main objective is met and the book is necessary.
Audience: Medical students and international medical graduates are the intended audience. The authors are medical students at one of the premier medical schools in the country, and the content is reviewed by medical faculty from some of the country's leading medical institutions.
Features: A section on test-taking strategies begins the book. This is followed by a section on high-yield subject matter that is further broken down into high-yield topics organized by organ system. The final section contains reviews of other materials that medical students in the past have used to study for the USMLE Step 1, how useful they are, designated by a grade, and what each review source covers. The majority of the review material is in list format, mnemonics, and figures. The review sections are rather bereft of paragraphs, as it is assumed that students use the book simply as a review of information already known. Despite the extremely broad scope of information that the book is covering (i.e., two years of basic science in medicine), it does a very good job of condensing the material into fewer than 500 pages. Unique features include sections in the back of the book of color photographs of "high-yield images" and a "rapid review" section on a disease with relevant catch phrases identifying characteristic pathology or physiology. This is not meant to be used as a primary source. It is written based on the assumption that the material is already known and is simply being reviewed.
Assessment: When I was preparing to take the USMLE Step 1 exam two years ago, I used this book as my primary review source and found it extremely helpful. I bought another review book as well, but did not use it due to its overall brevity and apparent lack of depth. While this book does not go in depth, it recommends review books that do, and I used the recommended books for material I did not grasp and found them to be helpful. Each edition of this book is edited by students who have prepared for the USMLE Step 1 and then reviewed by medical faculty. Each year, the test is updated according to advances in medical knowledge and standards of practice. As such, new editions are both relevant and necessary.