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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Alvin Telser, PhD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: This book contains four exams intended to help medical students prepare for the USMLE Step 1 exam. The questions are all of the multiple choice type. Each exam consists of about 160 questions (which is about the length of a single board exam booklet).
Purpose: The authors state that the book is intended for first- and second-year medical students who wish to review courses, prepare for course exams, or prepare for the USMLE Step 1 exam. Although these are reasonable objectives, due to the content and material covered in the exams, the overwhelming majority of the questions are inappropriate for, and therefore useless to, a first-year medical student.
Audience: This book would be useful only for a second- or third-year medical student who was preparing for the USMLE Step 1 exam—and no one else. The authors appear to be competent in the subject matter of the book.
Features: These exams use very few light or electron micrographs; those included are of poor quality. A few diagrams and graphs are used; these are of good quality. There are no references nor is an index included; the book might be more useful by referring to some high-quality standard textbooks where appropriate. There is a minimal table of contents. There is a rather extensive introduction on how to use the book and study for exams. After each set of questions, there is an extensive set of explanatory answers. Because the questions, like the board exams, do not follow topic or pedagogic themes, the answers are simply a collection of unrelated facts.
Assessment: This is one of the worst books that purports to help students prepare for USMLE Step 1 exam I has seen. The exams (1) emphasize factual recall, (2) contain many questions with heterogeneous answers, (3) deal with too many unrelated facts, and (4) are extremely unbalanced in the topic areas covered. There is little to no material based on the courses a first-year medical school student would take, with the sole exception of biochemistry (and its derivative topics such as molecular biology). After a careful review of two of the four exams in this book (> 300 items), I identified fewer than five questions on cell biology, histology, gross anatomy, physiology, or neuroscience. This analysis is based on the categories provided by the authors themselves. A more superficial scan of the other two exams suggests they have a similar composition. Students and libraries would be well advised to avoid this book.