Medical Education Resources for USMLE Step 1 and Step 2

November 04, 2021

By: Donato Mignones, Thomas Pak, Adrianna Diviero, Erum Chowdhry

Studying for the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 can be daunting. It is a lot of information, and there are so many resources. So which resources are the best? It comes down to your personal learning style (visual vs auditory), along with optimizing your method of learning. The Medical Education Team of the American Medical Student Association has assembled a list of resources and the costs, and grouped them based on the type of resources. We also discussed different learning methods.  

Types of Resources

Review Book

  • What is it?
    • A semi-comprehensive written text
  • How is it best used?
    • Assess your knowledge of previously learned material

Visual Mnemonic

  • What is it?
    • Uses images and a narrative to symbolize aspects of a particular topic, usually with recurring themes to tie in relationships between different topics
  • How is it best used?
    • Solidifying details into memory after getting first a general idea of a topic from a more comprehensive source

Lecture Series

  • What is it?
    • Comprehensive videos on a topic
  • How is it best used?
    • First pass on a topic to get a general overall understanding


  • What is it?
    • Audio lectures presented in a series of audio episodes
    • Different podcasts may offer different information including: content review, test-taking strategies, going over practice questions and answers 
  • How is it best used?
    • Useful for on-the-go revision and supplemental learning resource

Flash Cards

  • What is it?
    • Active recall and spaced repetition learning method
  • How is it best used?
    • Solidifying knowledge from previously learned material

Question banks

  • What is it?
    • Practice questions with explanations of answers
  • How is it best used?

Practice tests

  • What is it?
    • Simulation of the exam with timed blocks
  • How is it best used?
    • Schedule practice tests throughout your dedicated study period as an assessment tool and to help build your endurance and concentration for test day
    • Most predictive Step 1 Test Scores: UWORLD practice test scores > NBME Practice Tests (Forms 20-24, retired) > Old NBME Practice Tests (Forms 13, 15, 16, 17, and 19, retired) 
    • Newest NBME forms for Step 1 (Form 25-30) on 5/2021

Learning Methods

Spaced Repetition

  • What is it?
    • Reviewing material at systematic intervals
    • Intervals get longer with repetition
    • Opposite of “cramming”
    • Reduces the rate that material is forgotten
  • How can I implement it?
    • Box Method
    • Spaced Repetition software (Anki/Memorang)
    • Self-made or Pre-made decks


  • What is it?
    • Mixing up different types and forms of material when studying
    • Increases the ability to transfer information and skills across contexts and domains
    • Helps learners notice similarities and differences between concepts
    • Requires learners to actively reassess how to use their knowledge and skills
  • How can I implement it?
    • Mix different subjects/topics during a study session
      • Eg: Mix different subjects/topics of practice questions on UWORLD/AMBOSS
    • Be certain that you are at least familiar with the material you are interweaving, or the difficulty may be too great
    • eg: start new material in a linear fashion and switch to interweaved as you get more familiar

Active Recall

  • What is it?
    • Retrieving information from memory as opposed to re-reading information
    • Strengthens our ability to retain information and form connections between different concepts
  • How can I implement it?
    • Take your notes “closed book”
    • Instead of writing/rereading notes, write questions based on the material for you to answer later 
    • Cornell note-taking method
    • Flashcards
    • Practice questions


  • What is it?
    • Find additional layers of meaning in new material
    • Discover a metaphor or visual image
  • How can I implement it?
    • Synthesize what information means to you and how it applies to your goals
    • Create metaphors for information


  • What is it?
    • Creating your own solutions before being given answers to questions/problems
  • How can I implement it?
    • Attempt to answer a question or solve a problem before being shown the answer
    • Before reading material, try to explain the key idea you expect before reading, then see if you were correct

Common Mistakes:

  • Doing straight Uworld questions (with no time spent on recollection with flash card or assembled digital notes)
  • Just reading textbooks, and not doing enough test questions
  • Not practicing timed uworld blocks
  • Not taking ½ day or day breaks in your dedicated study time (risk of burning out)
  • Just doing flash cards (not taking the time to connect the material, or study algorithms)
  • Spending too much time on small details and not spending enough time to know the basics well

List of Resources

(Follow link for pricing information and more)

Medical Education Resource Information Sheet.

Resource Type
First Aid Review Book
First Aid: Organ Systems Review Book
First Aid: General Principles Review Book
Sketchy Micro Visual mnemonic
Sketchy Pharm Visual mnemonic
Sketchy Path Visual mnemonic
Sketchy Biochem Visual mnemonic
Picmonic Visual mnemonic
Pixorize Visual mnemonic
Draw it to Know it Visual / Tactile mnemonic
Physeo Lecture Series
Pathoma Lecture Series
Boards and Beyond Lecture Series
Dr. Najeeb Videos Lecture Series
Osmosis Lecture Series
Medcram Lecture Series
Kaplan Courses Lecture Series
Medquest Lecture Series
USMLE Success Academy Lecture Series
Online Med Ed Lecture Series
Lecturio Lecture Series
Dirty Medicine Lecture Series
Ninjanerd Videos Lecture Series
Doctor High Yield Lecture Series
Emma Holliday Lectures Lecture Series
Divine Intervention Podcast
Anki Flash cards
UWORLD Question Bank
Amboss Question Bank
USMLE Rx Question Bank
PassTest Question Bank
NBME Self-Assessments Practice Test
NBME Free 120 Practice Test

Learn more about AMSA’s Medical Education Team—and sign up for updates to receive more resources like this!