Customer Reviews: Step-Up to USMLE Step 2 (Step-Up Series)
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on July 20, 2010
A perfect addition to USMLE World.

Throughout medical school I've developed a tendency to hoard books before actually sitting down to prepare for tests. It's clearly a way to feel mentally well-armed, and is somewhat ridiculous. I bought several books for Step 2 - Crush, Secrets, First Aid, and Step Up to Step 2. I read a few chapters in Crush but it seemed way too simplistic. Secrets is just a list of questions that corresponds to the material covered in Crush. I bought First Aid because I used it for Step 1 - like everyone else - but the book gave me a headache. It reads more like a pastiche of trivia than an organized review book. Despite the scarcity of reviews out there on Step Up to Step 2 I bought it because I LOVED Step Up to Medicine - hands down the most helpful book I used in all of med school. Step Up to Step 2 isn't nearly as thorough as Step Up to Medicine. At first, it seemed too pared down, but when I started answering USMLE World questions I realized that there was so much that was covered in Step Up to Step 2. It somehow manages to strike the perfect balance. It's digestible yet comprehensive. For such a thin book, it's pretty amazing.

Seriously, the book is far superior to the others out there.
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on August 5, 2008
I chose this book initially because it was very concise (only 322 pages including index, etc etc) and with only a month to study for Step 2, I wanted concentrate on doing questions. The pros for this book: it is very concise and to the point. It explains each syndrome, basic pathyophys, h&p, and management. It also has some good algorithms and mneumonics. The bad: Many errors and typos. I've been careful not to completely rely on this book for factual data, but write notes in it according to my other references. Also, many syndromes that I thought should have been included are left out (i.e. not a word about hereditary spherocytosis that I could find). Furthermore, outside of the ones we already know about, most of the mneumonics are kind of random, long, and not very useful (i.e. there's a mneumonic to remember what symptoms occur for the flu)

So, if you plan to use this book as a primary study tool, I would not advise it. But, I've found it useful for myself to write notes while doing study questions. Just be careful about the errors/typos.
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on October 10, 2008
Let me preface by saying that I prefer the First Aid series in general over the Step Up books especially for the USMLE Step 1. However, this book is superior to that of First Aid for Step 2. The information presented in this book is not obvious and straightforward as in the First Aid book. The authors did a better job screening topics and clarifying areas while still maintaining as much detail as the First Aid for Step 2 book. They also do a better job discussing treatment and diagnosis.

BUT...the page numbers are misleading. There might only be 300 pages but each page is fairly dense and offers smaller print than the First Aid Step 2 book so while it may contain 300 pages, it truly reads like a 500 to 600 page book. Don't purchase this book if you think it's a fast read because it isn't and you will spend just as much time (if not more time) reading this book than the First Aid for Step 2 book.
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on July 10, 2011
I just took Step 2 CK yesterday. I used both this book and First Aid for Step 2 CK and despite the fact that I really liked First Aid for Step 1, I really did not like it for Step 2 and found Step Up to Step 2 to be much more user friendly. With that being said, NO book completely prepares you for Step 2 and I think that regardless of which book you use, you should still do a question bank because a TON of your learning will come from there (I used USMLE World, and the format or USMLE World looked EXACTLY like Step 2 CK did on test day). Some might wonder if First Aid covers more info than Step Up since it is a much longer book, but that seemed to not be the case when I looked at the 2 books. First of all, First Aid has a bunch of info on the front about how to register for the test, etc (much like the step 1 book), and Step Up covers each boards topic much more succinctly than First Aid. If I thought there was some relevant info missing from Step Up to Step 2, I either referenced Step Up to Medicine (which I had used on my medicine rotation) or perused First Aid for Step 2 to see if there was any missing important information.
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on August 23, 2012
I'm a 4th year medical student, studying for Step 2 CK. I bought this book when I first started rotations, figuring I could use it alongside them as a brief review. Since I'm relatively lazy, I saw this was the thinnest of the review books and decided it was perfect for me. However, I also know that test scores are extremely important and decided this wasn't enough. I've went through it once, along with First Aid for CK and Master the Boards. So I feel I can give a pretty fair idea about what book to use.

This book is concise. That is by far the best thing about it. At only a little over 300 pages total, it's the lightest review book you'll find. However, don't be deceived. Compared to Master the Boards, which has a large text and many tables inside, Step Up to Step 2 is written with smaller, more densely packed text. Despite being physically larger, Master the Boards was as quick, if not a quicker, read than Step Up to Step 2. This book does do a pretty good job at covering all the topics. It flows pretty well with U World, and if you're into using the DIT videos, this is what they go by.

For someone who wants to focus on one source AND does not plan on using DIT videos, I would say this is the third best book out of the 3 I used. Master the Boards does a better job at pointing out key, frequently tested facts, as well as doing a better job at teaching the best initial and most effective diagnostic test and treatment for each disease, which is an important part of the CK exam. I would say the 8th edition First Aid for CK is a close 2nd behind Master the Boards. It covers virtually everything you'll see in U World and covers some areas (like Peds) better than other texts. However, it is a longer read than both Master the Boards and Step Up. Many reviews will bash First Aid for CK, but make sure to see when that review was written and/or what edition it is referring to. The new, 8th edition First Aid is a vast improvement over the previous editions.

Step Up to Step 2 is a good review book, but not the best in my opinion.
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on December 16, 2010
After using First Aid for Step 1 to ace that exam, I was hesitant to switch gears and use the Step-Up series for CK. However, the review course I was taking for CK used this I had no choice. Before I get into the reasons for docking 2 stars, let me say this: Step-Up to USMLE Step 2 is a GOOD BOOK. It presents key facts in its "Quick Hit" and "Next Step" notes that are very high yield. They author's selection of what items to bold is very good and represents information that will be particularly useful. The entire book is short in length, so reviewing it multiple times is a breeze too.

After all of that praise, why did I dock 2 stars? Because there are blatant errors in the book that desperately need to be corrected. These are not just small typos...they affect how you learn and understand the diseases. Examples include the text saying HYPOthyroidism when it should say HYPERthyroidism, or stating a certain drug is INDICATED when in reality it is CONTRAINDICATED. Luckily, the review course I took cleared up all errata as we went through the text, so this was not a problem.

Bottom line: conceptually, it is a terrific book. There is a need for an updated edition, though, where all the terrible errors are fixed. Only purchase this if you are sure you have a good list of these errors, or you may end up getting questions wrong!
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on January 11, 2009
I used Dr. Van Kleunen's "Step-Up to USMLE Step 2" book intensively last year. I love the approach and the amount of material covered. The fact that all the pediatric conditions are covered within the system chapters is appealing to me, since basically once you are through the Internal Medicine chapters, you only need to go over a few pages of Pediatrics, dealing with developmental milestones, vaccinations, etc. and you are ready for Peds questions as well. He did the same thing with the Infectious Diseases -- there is no separate chapter for it, but all IDs are included in the systems.
Dr. Van Kleunen uses very practical charts and diagnostic/treatment pathways. There were a few mistakes in the first edition, which were corrected in the second (I did go to the store and compared). There are a few pages with colored pictures, which appear on the actual exam and are very useful. One thing I did not like is the fact that the Color Plates are in the middle of the Dermatology chapter (don't know why, maybe publisher's slip-up). I personally think it would be better if the color picture followed the condition or if Color Plates had been at the very end of the book.

Don't get me wrong, it's certainly NOT enough to just read through this book. I penciled-in aplenty of additional info/explanations to go over and used it in conjunction with "First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 CK (First Aid USMLE)." However, I love the style; even though information is succinct, this book covers enough material for a thorough review. If you feel completely lost on the topic you would have to do more reading from a text of your choice, but as a review book, it is excellent. The last, but certainly the most important is that you need to do at least 1000 questions after this or any other review.
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on June 20, 2012
Step up to Step 2 is basically the concise version of Step up to Medicine. I originally bought Step Up to Medicine because I was ambitious. However, as soon as I started USMLE World, I knew that Step up to Step 2 was a better book as it focused learning towards the boards instead of medicine. Downsides to this book are that the pediatric section is scattered everywhere and that this book is almost 6 years old. However, medicine hasn't changed enough to the point where the information is out of date. This is the book that is used in conjunction with Doctors in Training if you were thinking about using this book. I would recommend this book over First Aid Step 2 (especially the Peds section). However, I will be supplementing my studies (as you should always do) with a lot of step 1 material as well mastering the boards. Remember, a review book does not make or break your score. Question banks are more important but let this book be the foundation for your studying.
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on July 15, 2012
I love, love this book. It is just like Step Up to Medicine but more concise. Step Up to USMLE Step 2 is an overview. It is very comprehensive and covers just what you need to know for the test. If you have Step Up to Medicine, you may not want to buy this book because it just repeats things that are in Step Up to Medicine. There are a couple extra chapters in this book that are not in Step Up to Medicine. Step Up to Medicine is much more indepth than this book. If you want an indepth review of a disease, this is not the book for you.

I used this book to study for my family medicine rotation COMAT exam and to study for the boards. I also recommend using this book and Step Up to Medicine to study for COMAT/shelf exams. Just read the chapter on the subject matter of the shelf exam you are taking in each book. This book is great to tell you the essential details of the disease, symptoms, first labs to order, and treatment. It is a MUST HAVE for any medical student!!
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on October 18, 2012
After reading the reviews, both the good and the bad, I took the plunge and bought this for my Step 2 studying. I figured if DIT uses it, then it must be a good source. ...I was wrong. Although it is nice that the book is short and an easy read, the content is terrible. When I wasn't noticing mistakes, I had to constantly refer to other sources for information that was missing from this text. Also, although this might seem minor, it was really annoying to find a reference to chart X or table Z five pages down from the original mention, requiring one to constantly flipping back and forth between pages. One would think the publishers would rather make the book a bit longer in order to have it better organized. With only 4 weeks to study, I didn't feel like switching books one week into studying. I supplemented the text with Step Up to Medicine (a much better source), and would recommend that text to be the primary one, especially if you already read through it once for the clerkship shelf because the exam is IM heavy. One can then use other sources for ob/gyn, peds, surg, and psych. I'm sorry to write such a negative review, but I want to warn other people away from buying this book so they don't have such a negative studying experience.
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