First-Aid Step 2 CK – What to Know

7 min



UWORLD, AMBOSS, Anki, Sketchy, Board and Beyond, OME…The list goes on and on when it comes to resources to use to study for the USMLE exams. Students often complain of resource overload and find it challenging to attribute the correct level of significance to each resource in helping them prepare for the tests. In this post, we will help you solve that problem by looking into whether it is worth it to use First Aid to study for Step 2 CK!


Like First Aid for Step 1, this book is published by McGraw Hill Education and is updated yearly to reflect the changes in the USMLE exams. First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 CK includes a summary of key points, high-yield facts, and clinical images and illustrations to help students learn and retain the information. It also includes clinical case scenarios, which can help students develop their clinical reasoning skills. Note that this book is not written by the NBME (the board that creates the USMLE exams) and is not a direct reflection of what material might be tested on the exam. 


Pros and Cons of Using First Aid to Study for Step 2 CK


The pros: The 10th edition is succinct, clear, and concise, and divides the content into 17 subsections based on systems ranging from cardiovascular to musculoskeletal over a course of around 550 pages. It is a sizable amount of information most commonly tested on the exam. It also has sections on efficient exam preparation and top-rated review sources for medicine, pediatrics, ob/gyn, surgery, neurology, family medicine, internal medicine, and emergency medicine. It is well written and students often use it in conjunction with UWORLD, reading, cross-referencing and annotating parts of the text as they do UWORLD questions. Some students also fill the book to the brim with sticky notes that they can later peruse at their leisure. Another way to use this resource is in conjunction with an online video review platform like Online Med Ed. Many of the concepts covered in OME are covered in this book, so annotating while listening to the videos can help reinforce certain concepts better. Finally, the book has a rapid review feature at the end which can be helpful in doing a quick review of high-yield material for the exam. 


The cons: The book is not comprehensive. It only presents some of the commonly tested concepts on the exam. In this way, it is unlike First Aid for Step 1 which has been recognized as a major resource to study for the exam, especially because of its depth of coverage of exam material. Most students find it hard to get through the text of First Aid for Step 2 CK, because it is just chunks of information presented without much scope for engaging with the material meaningfully. UWORLD is much better and more comprehensive source of content review between the two resources because students have the opportunity to do practice questions and learn from their mistakes in real-time rather than just passively reading material that is not even fully comprehensive. 


The verdict: First Aid Step 2 CK is an optional supplementary resource, should students have the time to cover it in its entirety. It can be used in conjunction with UWORLD to solidify concepts but is in no way a critical resource to do well on the exam. Some students find that using First Aid for Step 2 CK in conjunction with other study materials, such as practice questions and review lectures, can be an effective way to prepare for the exam. It is important to note, however, that First Aid for Step 2 CK is just one resource among many that can be used to study for the exam. It is a good idea to use a variety of study materials in order to get a well-rounded understanding of the material that will be covered.


For custom resource recommendations to suite your specific needs, consider enlisting the help of a Step 2 CK tutor! Schedule your complimentary consultation today!

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