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on December 25, 2002
As a brief review of the USMLE I syllabus, this book is an excellent choice. However, be warned, the USMLE questions have gone more sophisticated.
USMLE hardly asks you this type of question now:

A 25 year old woman taking prednisone for SLE develops fever, muscle aches, jaundice, right-sided abdominal pains. What is the diagnosis?
a. cholelithiasis
b. cholestasis
c. hepatitis
d. right lower lobe pneumonia
e. adverse reaction to medication

Everyone knows this is hepatitis.

No. It will ask:
A 25 year old woman taking prednisone for SLE develops fever, muscle aches, jaundice, right-sided abdominal pains. The most likely cause of these findings is
a. antibodies to hepatocytes
b. release of cytokines from T lymphocytes
c. lysis of infected hepatocytes
d. blockage of bile canaliculi
e. activation of complement against hepatocytes

Now, not everyone knows the answer (c by the way).
This book (First Aid) does not go into this level of granularity in covering the test materials. This does not mean that it does not have its use, however.
Suggestions for use:
1. Read this book first. Because of its concise coverage of most of the topics on the USMLE I, it is most suited for this purpose.
2. Get more detailed texts, and read each topic as set out in the syllabus (it is amazing how many medical students and doctors fail to use the syllabus in preparing for the exams!). The NMS series (Biochem, Physiology, Microbiology, Pharmacology are especially good). Use some other published materials for Anatomy, Pathology and Behavioral science. NMS series are not so good in those areas.
3. Practice with the released MCQs (150 of them). You will get some of these on the exam, trust me.
4. Practice with Kaplan's QBank, until you consistently score a perfect 100%. If you don't have the money for this, or if you have more time, use NMS review for the USMLE Step I by Lazo, et al. It is a great alternative/complement
5. Reread this book (first Aid) to round up your preparations.

6. Go smash the USMLE step I. You will most likely score in the 95th per centile.

Good luck.
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on October 28, 2000
This is the Bible for USMLE step 1 study, a complete starter's kit. It's broken up into three basic sections, all very useful, with information that cannot be found anywhere else.
The first section is a description of what the test is like, what to expect about things like scoring and in case you think you failed, and also strategies for studying. (A note of disagreement: their recommendation for studying requires a much longer time commitment than most medical students can or are willing to give, e.g., two entire months devoted solely to USMLE preparation.)
The second section is a list of high yield facts in each subject area. Some students say that the exam can be passed comfortably just having memorized this section. Of course, it would be unwise to test that hypothesis, but my personal experience vindicates it: just about all of the answers to the questions I missed on the USMLE practice test CD-ROM could be found in this section of the exam. My only complaint about this section is that the links to the Underground Clinical Vignettes series (UCV) were spotty (sometimes there are no links listed for diseases that are discussed in UCV) and sometimes wrong (they refer to the wrong case), and that these links, being of lower yield value than everything else in this book, smacked of a marketing ploy to encourage purchasing the UCV series, which happens to be authored by the same person.
The final section is a listing and review of all the major review books currently available. The review is based on student response and is generally quite accurate and very useful (including even ISBN numbers, a godsend for those who shop online), not showing any signs of proprietary bias.
All other review books, if possible, should be borrowed or purchased used, but this book is updated every year and its purchase is a required investment for everyone taking the step 1 exam, so that it can be underlined, scribbled on, and read over and over again.
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on December 23, 2012
So being the compulsive person that I am about purchasing books asap for my coursework and USMLE studying, my mom purchased the Kindle version of this book and gifted it to me so I would not have to wait until Jan to get it. After going through a lot of the sections, it appears that the 2012 errors I checked were corrected and some of the images were slightly improved but not all of them. Some of the info has been slightly shifted around a page or two but Embryo section is now placed within the appropriate Organ System. This is much better because I apparently had overlooked the section entirely in 2012 when studying systems due to it being a separate section. I have not been through the entire book yet. Overall, it appears to almost be exactly the same as 2012 but with corrected errors....hopefully this book will not end up having as many errata.

Kindle Edition runs terribly slow once you get past certain sections of the book. Kindle app sometimes crashes. I am using a Google Nexus 7 32GB to run. Perhaps it would have been best to get the actual book instead of wasting money on an electronic version that is sub-par.
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on January 2, 2013
1. If you are a first or second year medical student and do not own a copy of First Aid, buy this.

2. If you are using the 2012 edition of First Aid, here are some differences to consider:

1. As far as I can tell, all of the errata from 2012 have been corrected (there were a ton of errors in 2012); but if you have went through and annotated your edition of 2012 this shouldn't matter very much
2. As one of the other reviewers mentioned, embryology has been moved to be contained with organ systems.
3. There are, as far as I can tell, no major changes in text content
a. There are additional pictures that have been added to 2013 that are not present in 2012.
b. Some of the diagrams have been redrawn with different colors and now seem to be a little more straightforward

The cover to the book also now seems to have some type of lamination so it appears that it will be more resistant to spills. There aren't any substantial changes, but if you're the type of person that likes to have the newest edition of everything (as I am) then I would go ahead and buy it.


The firstaidteam website ( released a list of all the changes in 2013. I found them to be useful so I'll post my paraphrasing of them here:

Structural Changes
Embryology has been incorporated into relevant sections
Many entries have been merged or consolidated
The dermatology section includes 59 new color images
The Rapid Review section is better "synchronized" with underlying high-yield material
The index has been fully redone
The test preparation material in Section I is updated and expanded

Design and Layout Changes
Entry formats are extensively redesigned
Mnemonics are colorized and bolded to clarify associations
Entries requiring more than 1 page are on a 2-page spread
Selected illustrations were redesigned and colorized


As SMH mentioned in his review, USMLE Step 1 2013 on Kindle does not run well--at least on Mac OS X Lion. I am not familiar with the performance of Kindle on Mac in general, but it takes 10-15 seconds on my 2011 Macbook Pro to do a search through the book. At times, when I am flipping through pages on Mac Kindle in FA, Kindle ends up using 100% of my CPU and my computer locks up for a few seconds. Tried de-activating/activating my registration, reinstalling kindle, rebooting, and re-downloading the book to no avail.

As a point of comparison, I have VitalSource for some of my other textbooks and it is able to do similar searches in textbooks in 1 to 2 seconds. Being able to search quickly and go to different pages in the book is one of the main reasons I bought the Kindle version--I'm really disappointed. I don't know whether this is the fault of the publisher or the Kindle Mac developers.
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on January 8, 2013
Having just begun preparing for Step I (May 29 is the day!), I eagerly picked up the newest copy of First Aid. And by newest copy, I'm referring to the actual physical text, not the Kindle version. I've been working with the 2012 edition, but picked up the 2013 edition as I plan on doing Doctor's In Training 2013, and they require the most up-to-date text. I haven't read the book through in earnest yet, but from my quick skimmings, what I have noticed is that most of the content is very similar to the 2012 edition, except that the HUGE list of errata from the 2012 edition has been corrected. Other than that, you'll find a few picture tweaks here and there, but nothing major. I did notice the cover is made of a newer material this year, which is much hardier than previous editions, not to mention more "spill-proof."

I have since had the binding from my copy removed and the text 3-hole punched, and was relieved to find that a typical 3-hole punch will not punch out any words or graphics. Now my edition is in a nice binder, ready for annotation and adding of other material as I see fit.

If I come across any huge errors or problems with this text, I'll update my review, but as for now, I'm pleased with the updates they've made.

EDIT: I have noticed some errors as I have gone into my devoted Step I study period, but they are still much less than that of the 2012 edition. I still like the small changes they made (like incorporating embryology into each section rather than give it its own chapter) and think this is one of the better releases! Check First-Aid's website for a most up-to-date list of 2013 errata.
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on June 17, 2001
The books of the First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 series help from the very day you decide to take the USMLE (or medicine, for that matter). It contains need-to-know information about the exam such as what the exam is like, when to register, what your score means, and what to do if you pass or fail. Furthermore, and most importantly, it contains the absolutely "must know" high-yield facts in every subject in Step 1's coverage and fun mnemonics to go along with them. This book also has a review of review books which helps you decide which books are best for you. It also includes a form you can submit mnemonics and suggestions with to improve next year's edition. However, obviously this book is not enough to pass step 1 of the USMLE, but it may give you a very good advantage.
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on October 23, 1999
This book is a must-have for second year medical students and anyone taking Step 1 of the USMLE. It's great preparation for your second year classes, and the most concise and comprehensive text of what you'll need to know for Step 1. If you understand the material in this book, you will do quite well on Step 1. The information could be a bit better organized, but otherwise this book is unreservedly recommended.
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on June 4, 2001
After taking step 1 on april 30, 2001. I went through my books and found that First Aid was completely useless !
It only helped me with 1 question on my April 30 step 1 exam.
The USMLE Step 1 exam is mostly Internal Medicine not Pharmo, Micro, biochem. I had no more than 5 pharm, 5 micro and 2 biochem questions on my entire exam, imagine how I felt after wasting money and time on this piece of junk.
Most of my questions were vignettes that dealt with Hematology, Acid-Base questions, wierd Biostats, CT scans , Gross pics and many calculations such as Power, Risk Factor, Renal Flow and all the other subjects people told me not to study !
Word of Advice for step 1 :
Avoid Board Simulator Series ( more useless junk,the questions did not have the correct content )If you insist on using junk, go get some beat up PreTests and read them as the questions are the same as the BSS but cheaper.
Have the courage to stray from the well worn path of failure and try things that are non-standard. Heres what made me pass :
Patho review by Kumar and Klatt (1200q's ) Superb, exactly board like !
Cecils Review of Internal Med ( I recognized over 100 q's that were very similar to my exam )
Harrisons INternal med Review questions. do the easy questions.
Dont fool yourself into thinking that a simple book like First Aid is valuable, the test writers know what is out there and they arent going to let you pass by just reading a simple book like this.
The reason anybody buys this junk is this : US med students learn enough Internal Med in their courses to pass step 1. So they run out and buy this book to settle their nerves, take the exam and do well. They think that the First Aid book did it for them when in reality, it was their classroom knowledge that got them through. They tell their friends how wonderful the "book" is when in reality, they could have smoked the exam without it.
This is how the Myth of First AId is perpetuated !!!!!!!!
If you do use it, get a used copy and spend the last week just browsing through it.
I know countless numbers of med students that failed step 1 because they depended on easy junk like this. Don't kid yourself, Step 1 is very hard and you must study hard to review for it.
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on February 8, 2013
(+) COLOR! - Much better than First Aid 2011
(+) Better than first Aid 2012 - fewer errors
(+) Key information - coupled with UWORLD; it's a perfect study companion for step 1
(+) Better learning experience had from reading this book than attending your M1 / M2 classes
(+) MNEMONICS for the fundamentals

I actually enjoy reading / studying from this book.
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on May 24, 2013
I have both the 2012 and 2013 editions (the 2nd was a gift). The bottom line is that there is no real functional difference between the two despite any changes that were made. It is the same book, slightly different. Here is my complaint: this book has quite a few "editors" and "contributors" who seem to be medical students. Great class project and all, but the lack of editing shows a lack of concern from Le, Bhushan, and Hofmann for the quality of the finished product. For example, 2012 had such a list of errata it is hard to believe that anyone checked any facts before printing and selling the product. Although 2013 seems to have fewer errors, it has reprinted some of the exact same ones from 2012! No one even checked the previous errata list? I mean, it was really long and all, but they are asking for more money from us, right?
First Aid is a terrific study guide for Step 1, and I would happily give it 4 stars if they bothered to properly edit. The 5th star would happen when they stopped putting out a new product every single year simply to pad their income. Step 1 does not change that much year to year - as the content of the 2 books can attest to. It is simply a ruse to squeeze a little bit more out of the already anxious medical student.
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