How to use First Aid Step 1 for Step 2 CK preparation?

It is a well-known fact that First Aid USMLE Step 1 book is one of the gold resources for Step 1 preparation. Every page of the book is collected of vital high yield information. But importance of this book doesn’t just end up here. It can be used very wisely and with high efficiency for Step 2 CK exams. Based on my experience, I will try to put my perspective on how to use the book.

Step 2 CK and First Aid Step 1

Skip the Basic science part:

You have done with anatomy, physiology, the pathways of biochemistry, the metabolism paths part already. Ideal will be to skip this part if you are short of time. If you can ready everything, it’s great but to make things effective in a short preparation time, I skipped this part. The concept is still in your mind, so I felt the part can be cut off from the preparation.

Start with Pathology:

While studying system wise, start with pathology. It contains important clinical diseases, their risk factors, pathology, clinical features and sometimes management. The content is such high yield and so good that it will help you get a stellar score in CK exam. Step 2 is nothing different, it is primarily based on the Step 1 knowledge minus some portion. Read quickly through pathology part and keep notes. Synchronize it with Uworld and Amboss and any other resources you have used. You definitely need more of Investigations and treatment part that is missing in FA1. FA2 could be helpful but do research the best resource for this exam.

Focus on Pharmacology:

The pharmacology part of FA 1 is awesome. You have read it before, now you need to revise it. Drugs, mechanism of action, class, side-effects; it is a precise way to go through pharmacology. This is one portion you would like to revise again.

Special focus on

  1. Biochemistry: the clinical parts only, skip pathways, cycle, ADP-ATP things.
  2. Psychiatry: FA 1 Psychiatry is a marvel. Your diagnosis is incomplete without timeframe, remember to meet both criteria- clinical and time criteria when reaching a diagnosis. This will be a supplement to UW along with whitecoat companion. Psychiatry is much difficult in Step 2 ck, so one needs to know it well.
  3. Communication: extremely helpful, precise. Also read the entire section, insurance, error, and analysis etc. Remember that it is not enough, it’s just supplemental resource for this.
  4. Biostats: helpful but not enough at all.
  5. Dermatology, Ophthalmology: The pictures are awesome. Combine it with UW and WC companion.
  6. Microbiology: a great reviewing resource.


  1. Read First Aid 1
  2. Solve the Uworld same system
  3. Synchronize knowledge
  4. Reference to consolidate memory: Amboss, White coat companion, Sketchy microbiology.

Most importantly, see what works best for you. Individual preference will differ.

To summarize:

FA1 is not the prime resource for step 2CK but it can be vital to get a good score. It is precise, high yield and if used effectively can be enormous boost to your knowledge and confidence. Use it early on in preparation and at revision.

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