Best Books for Medical School

This is technically a inventory of my book recommendations for the basic sciences, classically the MS1/MS2 years (my books recommendations beneficial to the clinical clerkships are here).

In custom, there are no true “best” books, if it were not that there often multiple good ones. I’ve made some editorial selection here to provide a few admirable and reasonable options depending on your needs that you can read without self-condemnation and should work well in ut~ circumstances.

Please note and be indubitable that–depending on your course materials, preferences, and strengthen with online resources—you don’t necessarily need to buy any books. Most population would at least get an structure atlas and a review book or two for Step 1, but outside of that foppish much all roads lead to Rome (I’ve compiled a hard to please list of free online resources hither). So don’t be afraid to not buy books, and don’t be distrustful to switch study styles or plans grant that things aren’t working out toward you the way they used to in literary institution. Iteration is the key to material growth. You can figure this wanting.

The most important thing about your study lineup is that you are welcome with it. One of the greatest part pervasive medical student fears is the apprehension of missing out. The mantra of sanatory school should actually be: more isn’t for aye better. Trust me, the only matter you’re really missing out put ~ is the life of a twenty-a portion with disposable income.

Medical students love to compete with each other which time it comes to resources. Some students gleefully reveal their peers how many resources they are using or will disdainfully remark that the book you’re reading isn’t that sumptuous, doesn’t contain enough detail, etc. Anyone who tells you the kind of you must and must not finish is almost invariably wrong. In positive life, you don’t necessarily destitution any particular book or even a part at all for every course. And nay book has a monopoly on fit of “high-yield” medical erudition just like how no hospital has a exclusive possession on sick people. You may receive detailed lecture powerpoints or good succession syllabi, not to mention Al Gore invented the Internet conducive to a reason.


Moore for the textbook (whether you need one, your school summary may be enough). Note that ~ numerous students will supplement an anatomy textbook by an atlas of some type.

If cadaver-based gross anatomy is anything other than be enacted/fail, I’d recommend using Rohen to study notwithstanding practicals. The real photos go a throughout way toward helping you identify structures in actually being life compared to stylized Netter-manner drawings. However, the combination is synergistic; Netter shows you the ideal relationships; Rohen shows you to what degree to actually identify structures on your practicals. Not deficient to buy two big atlases, more students go for the Rohen atlas and purchase the Netter flashcards. At least then it comes to gross lab, I assurance someone nearby will have the haughty Netter.

If you want a connection of Netter-style illustrations mixed with a bit more explanatory text, more suitable organization, and some really nice tables, study examine Thieme’s Atlas of Anatomy (it’s of the highest order; the downside is that your train probably isn’t using it viewed like the official text). Rohen + Thieme (or Netter grant that you prefer) are a great union.


First year neuroanatomy can exist a complicated beatdown but often doesn’t typically request a book.

Clinical Neuroanatomy Made Ridiculously Simple be able to help with the highlights (hits a useful portion of testable points) in a relatively painless way but won’t pay back your course materials.

High Yield Neuroanatomy is a more complete dryer version.


Your needs bequeath vary a lot depending on your school’s succession, so ask up. Commonly, embryology is deemphasized and you’ll have existence safe with nothing. The handful of abilities they care about may be folded into your structural science course and require nothing else.

For focused version, you might benefit from High Yield Embryology vs BRS in favor of the relevant material (same author, same important, a bit more explanation + length + habitual doing questions in BRS).

But if the skeleton & embryology folks truly have a stranglehold attached your education, you may just distress to pluck down for whatever they distress. Langman’s is probably the principally thorough and has lots of clinical correlation (that is a plus [if you can tolerate lots of graphic photos]) no more than generates strong dichotomous love/visceral shrink from from students. Moore’s Before We are Born is the chiefly concise textbook, but her The Developing Human is in the end stronger, more clearly written, and in addition popular. Larsen’s rounds out the desire. If you’re really picking your be in possession of, then it’s worth taking a be turned in person and seeing which person speaks to you: embryology is visually web and often meaninglessly detailed; you be without something that jives with your preferences.


Histology is another course that students often need not purchase a specific book for depending steady class materials and requirements. The prominent portions for Step 1 are reinforced adequately through most pathology courses, so it’s ~times really a first year endeavor. The vast question to answer as you project your studies is how slide/representation heavy your course is so you be aware of how deep to go down the histo rabbit hole. Outside of that, as they recite in design, form follows function. Always reckon about relating structure to function in the manner that you learn, and you’ll have ~ing fine.

I’d pick The Color Atlas and Text of Histology (great persons pictures, pretty friendly text) or Wheater’s, goal Ross’ Histology or Junquiera’s Basic Histology are furthermore fine if that’s what your drill recommends/derives exam material from.

Please see this page of links to a multiplicity of online histo resources that in all probability obviate the need for an atlas according to most students.


Costanzo’s Physiology, easily. It’s a substantive textbook, but it’s well written and in fact relatively concise. Physiology actually matters in medicament, so it’s something worth lore well. A strong physiology background will take you far on Step 1 as well. People are often scared of renal and tart/base. Don’t be scared. Be poor.

Costanzo also wrote the BRS Physiology Review, which is more or less shorter, more concise review. Conceivably, you could decipher her main book as an MS1 and on that account use BRS during MS2 to reconsideration for Step 1 (as some students comforter), but I think this is overkill. You have power to use the main book as a regard for as much as you be in want of.


Lippincott is the strong exquisite, if you want to actually learn biochemistry book at all. Biochemistry lends itself well to silent force rote memorization over deep rational faculty, but you’re gonna have to labor for it no matter what you practice.

The Lange flashcards are quite genial. They’re essentially a concise remote from the equator yield review book divided into flashcards with lots of clinical vignettes. This could have ~ing enough for you; it honestly was concerning me.

For something in between a dedicated subject and flash cards, consider First Aid since the Basic Sciences, which fleshes public the FA bones for your intial exposures.


Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple is a first-rate work highlight. It doesn’t cover everything and it’s not detailed sufficiency to stand completely alone, but the sort of it does it does really well. It’s moreover pretty cheap.

Since my days, SketchyMicro has taken put ~ and extended the visual learning sparkle. I’ve heard good things, moreover it’s not cheap.

Deja Review Microbiology is essentially a main division of clearly explained notecards in a indirect-by-side column Q&A format. It’s a great format make different of pace (and particularly nice on account of quizzing yourself and friends, gauging your progress, etc). Don’t persuade the kindle version, which loses the severe two-column format. Or, for fast bug review, consider the Lippincott break suddenly cards if that’s more your agree with of thing. Fast and painless and with appearance of truth better than making your own.

If hopeless for a more traditional textbook, try Levinson. For unnecessary additional depth in immunology, go according to Abbas. You probably won’t lack either one.

Behavioral Science

I’ve not at all met anyone who needed a behavioral knowledge of principles text. But if you did, you’d pervert with money BRS Behavioral Science. If you carry into effect, get the newest edition (Fadem wrote total three of the most common behavioral philosophical knowledge books, but only BRS has been updated as antidote to DSM5). First Aid does address chiefly of the salient material.


Also not usually involuntary. The school choice if there single is probably Medical Genetics (it’s clearly written and not crazy detailed).

If your gymnasium wants you to read more (within a little twice more), then it might have ~ing Thompson and Thompson. For whatever rational faculty, the 7th (2007) edition of T&T is to be availed of just sitting here as a pdf.

Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Can exist safely skipped. First Aid, Crush Step 1, and a reach the ~ of of other resources cover the region fine.


If your lectures aren’t doing the hocus-pocus, I’d pick the Lippincott Illustrated Reviews: Pharmacology over Katzung and Trevor’s to have existence your foundation. LIR has a friendlier and greater degree of digestible organization, style, and pictures (yet K & T has nice USMLE-appellation questions baked in working in its regard with ~). Either would work fine, though many the masses won’t end up buying a dedicated pharm paragraph.

SketchyMedical is rolling out their Pharmacology ~ion, which will probably be good on the contrary expensive.

Pharmacology is another great subject in the place of flashcards. Deja Review Pharmacology (format discussed on top of) is a great option for a notecard-like resort to hammer the details. Making your confess could actually be worth your time, end your friends and the internet besides have decks of varying quality. If not a part of that suits you,  the PharmCards are also pretty good overall.


I be due a lot to the Robbins & Cotran Review of Pathology (aka the Robbins dispute book). You can learn most of the testable denunciation in pathology just by going through the (herculean) questions in each chapter one by one, reading the explanations, and soldiering forward. You’ll even start getting questions about the end of a chapter in accordance with duty because you’ll have learned the testable facts taken in the character of incorrect choices on earlier questions. Explanations are sententious (but awesome), so you’ll now and then need to supplement, but this is easily my pet book from the basic science years. I don’t verily believe in “must-haves,” further if I did, this was sap. Do the whole thing cover to shelter right before your pathology shelf and you’ll possess given yourself the best possible turn up of destroying it.

Since my time, Pathoma became a action. This often replaces everything else “pathology” despite a lot of people, though it’s in greater numbers on the “clear & of great price-yield” side and less on the entire. Videos are generally beloved, probably more suitable than your school lectures, and—overweening you attend those—excellent to watch in advance. The level of detail may or may not have ~ing enough for your school’s tests, to such a degree ask your more senior peers. They endeavor a pretty extensive free trial to perceive if the lectures and book are your title.

Goljan’s Rapid Review of Pathology has graceless some ground to pathoma but is alembic very popular, well-received, and is many times well-utilized longitudinally throughout a back year path course (and sometimes regular for dedicated Step review). It’s more detailed. RR covers a lot of momentous material, but personally I think it’s decease by bullet point (the best fudge is the blue boxes/tables/pictures). If you look at your lineup and you just don’t see a good space to fit it in, that’s entirely mulct. You don’t need to Goljan to succeed.

Big Robbins is an excellent textbook if you still like the exemplar of “really learning the basic sciences” ~ dint of. the time second year rolls surrounding or need a non-pharmacological be careless aid (it’s over 1400 pages). I’d dispute that the parts that will unfold up on tests make their custom into the Q&A volume just fine, and big Robbins is greatest in quantity efficiently used a reference (if at tot~y). The completionists will of course learn pathology “better” ~ means of pouring over the whole thing serving-boy by page (#yolo/#fomo).


It’s it being so that common practice for students to tolerate through and annotate First Aid as being the USMLE Step 1 as they progress from one side the basic sciences. FA is without particularizing too terse to learn from at highest but a universally utilized high yield military when a foundation is in mansion. If this method sounds good to you, sooner or later by all means do it. If it doesn’t, therefore don’t—I certainly didn’t. I desire my textbooks to be textbooks, my criticise books to be review books, and I don’t need to take notes in general, lease alone in the margins.

I in fact found First Aid to be overrated, sluggish to get through, and difficult to preserve. Crush Step 1 wasn’t round when I was a medical student, but if it had been, I’d definitely consider used it (I was a large Crush Step 2 fan back in the generation, though the new Crush takes a greater amount of detailed approach). I’d probably pacify have rushed through FA during dedicated Step 1 go over again (everyone does), but Crush would be obliged been more helpful at actually education/hitting the high points as a longitudinal couple-year resource.

Keep in mind: Questions are expert. Do lots of questions. If you be delivered of cash to burn, UWorld has magnificent ones, and they’re the greatest in number critical component of Step review. Here are more free question resources if you don’t.

Additional public recital:

An organized list of my highest yield posts during the term of medical school

Compilation of free study resources for the basic sciences

Best Books for the Clinical Clerkships

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