Second Year Resources

*Once Step 1 was over, I took a couple of weeks to veg out and be human again, so this list is a bit late in its arrival. However, I hope all of the new second years that read this find some of it to be helpful. Good luck in your second year of medical school! Don’t worry too much about Step 1 just yet, you have plenty of time to prepare well for it!*

Now that second year is over, grades are in, and that silly Step 1 is out of the way, I thought I’d share the list of resources I used for second year that helped me to be successful. I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned before that first year was difficult… mostly, I think, because I was pregnant, hormonal,  and preoccupied with things outside of medicine beyond my control, so I felt like I performed below what I could have. Second year, though, was a totally different beast. Everyone I’ve talked to has said how horrible second year is, how it is so much worse than first year… so if you are a rising second year and have heard upperclassmen say these things, I’m going to contradict that and say that I absolutely LOVED second year. I really, truly did. Second year, I knew a lot more about what I was doing in clinic, I had more freedom to study at my own pace and in my own style, I found that I actually had more time to do fun things like explore different specialties, and overall I had a really great time. I may be the oddball, but that’s ok. 🙂
Anyway, these are the resources I used and my general strategy, and I included the links to Amazon for most of them so you’d have access to the exact book I was talking about, since some of them are confusing (like Blue Robbins versus Red Robbins). As always, use what works best for you.

Path for me was like Anatomy all over again: Too dense, too many resources, not enough time for it all. So after Block 2 I stopped going to class and studied on my own.
Pathoma: Last year Pathoma was a required text and we had dedicated time to watch the lectures online. This is a very good resource and most people really like it. I did, but I found that Dr. Sattar hits the highlights and sometimes I needed more than that to understand things.
Blue Robbins: This is the actual required textbook, if I remember correctly. Not a whole lot of people used it from what I heard, but I really liked it. Pathoma made more sense after I read the corresponding chapter here.
Red Robbins: This one is literally just extra questions to make sure you master the material. Also very good.
WebPath: Not a book, but a question bank that was REALLY helpful.
A lot of people also swear by Golijan ( but I simply didn’t have enough time.
For block 1, I only did Pathoma + attended classes + red Robbins questions + Webpath and I didn’t do nearly as well as I wanted. So for Block 2 I quit going to class and did Blue Robbins then Pathoma then WebPath and Red Robbins (and then reviewed the same material in First Aid) and my grades went up 15%.


I used the Katzung book ( which I really liked because it gave you everything you needed to know concisely. This was really all I needed for Pharm.

Immuno was covered in Block 1 last year. I used this book: and I really wish I would have read it over the summer, or focused just on it during the class. It’s a thin book and a quick read and it gives lots of drawings to show all of the signaling that would have made Immuno so much easier.
For Micro, what I thought was most helpful was Clinical Micro Made Ridiculously Simple ( and I loved it. The silly pictures really stuck in my mind (and made the Antibiotics section SO EASY compared to what we got in Pharm).
I’ve also heard good things about Sketchy Micro and that people love it, but I didn’t have the time and didn’t want to shell out more money for yet another resource when I already had so many.

We didn’t really need any books for this class, but I basically reviewed the neuro and pysch sections in first aid and grade-wise this was one of my best classes out of both years of med school.
*After studying the specific material for class for each block, I also reviewed the corresponding chapter in First Aid, and wrote down any notes or mnemonics that I found were helpful. I also used the First Aid Cases for the USMLE Step 1 and found it to be helpful in understanding how patients would present and drawing out which facts were important.

And now, for the monster that breathes down your neck the entirety of second year:
Step 1:

You’ll start hearing about Boards and Step 1 from the first day. It gets annoying. But work hard this year and figure out your study schedule and you’ll have no worries. Some schools may allow some of the commercial test prep companies to come to campus to talk about their products, if you choose to go that route. Last year Kaplan, Becker (formerly Falcon) and DIT came to our campus. I used UWorld + First Aid + Pathoma + DIT and felt really prepared for my exam. Becker was too expensive for me and I hated Kaplan when I used them for my MCAT (and they use the same setup for Step 1) so I didn’t want to use them. Personally, I liked the format of DIT and I liked the corny jokes too, so I went with them. Plus they have an outline that is basically your study schedule, so I didn’t have to make my own. But plenty of people just used UWorld + First Aid and passed the test, so any of that is up to you; you know how you learn best. There are also plenty of online sample study schedules if you take a few minutes to browse for them. For the most part, focus on studying for your classes very well, as that will be a big help for when you go into your dedicated Step 1 study time.
People will be freaking out about Step 1 as soon as classes start. Don’t let the white noise get to you. I found that if I was around someone and they were talking about focusing on UWorld while I was studying for Block that I would have a momentary freak-out, so I just had to tune it out. I think our administration really helped us to prepare over the course of the year, so that was also a big help when I was having panicky thoughts about the exam.
The most in-depth study strategy I found for Step 1 was the Two Think method, found here: I think it’s a bit overkill, but elements of it worked for me.

One thing I didn’t know until after Step 1: UWorld has an app and you can work questions on your phone. I’ve been working Step 2 questions on my phone during down time on rotations. The app itself is free, but you do have to have an active account with them to be able to use it.


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