Basic Science Resources
Our favorite Medical School Basic Science Resources to help you get through and excel during your basic science years. Resources needed will vary by school, but here are some of the most popular resources broken down by topic:
Got a Comment or Question be sure to discuss it at the bottom of the page.
I wanted to create a section to discuss a few resources that I felt cover a wide array of medical topics incredibly well.
Honestly I wish I had come across this sooner, as I felt it would have made my medical school education all that much better. If you’ve never heard of spaced memorization, the concept is essentially you do not forget facts uniformly. Some things are easier to remember than others, and that varies person to person. Firecracker lets you rate each flashcard accordingly and repeats it as necessary. With a ton of great features including delaying questions etc. If you start it when you start medical school you’ll be able to remember facts from classes you took months ago while your classmates will struggle. They also have resources for Step 2 and I have been told Step 3 resources are coming out soon. The question format isn’t fantastic, but the flashcards are quite good, although this service can get a bit pricey as it’s subscription based it is still well worth it.
Dr. Najeeb Lectures – 5/5
The World’s most popular medical lectures! It’s hard to argue with videos that have over 10 million views, but Dr. Najeeb does a fantastic job explaining most concepts. It is a great way to supplement topics you either didn’t understand or topics where you felt your lecturer left something to be desired. There are over 400 hours of videos so while most people won’t get through all of them, it’s a pretty fantastic overall resource.
Memorang – 4.5/5
Another flashcard system, that’s actually really impressive. Unlike Anki where you have to create and share decks, Memorang has many decks that already exist. Developed by MIT students, it’s a great resource to help you memorize FA 2014. Some topics are lacking sufficient information, but it’s quickly being improved and it’s definitely a resource to keep an eye on. At the rate they are improving and mirroring the information within First Aid, it’d be hard for me to imagine this not becoming incredibly popular in coming years. I’d recommend checking it out.
A newcomer to the scene, picmonic features a mix of visual learning and mnemonics. It’s an incredibly interesting take on traditional studying. While it won’t work for every type of learner, it’s lightens up the scene for sure and is a great tool. Imagination and humor never hurt to make a few subjects a bit dry.
Gray’s Anatomy for Students – 4/5
The famous Gray’s Anatomy is the most comprehensive anatomy reference for medical students. It will list every possible thing you’ll ever need to know for medical school anatomy. Unfortunately it also happens to be incredibly dense and is most often used as a supplement for topics not fully understood in class and as a supplement for some lecture notes. It is absolutely comprehensive and will more than likely provide all the anatomy knowledge you will need. I’d recommended it over some of the more visual only guides, as it provides a good written breakdown of topics as well.
Gray’s Anatomy Review – 3.5/5
A fantastic but underutilized review book that serves as a companion to Gray’s Anatomy. It features very well written clinically oriented questions that will resemble many anatomy medical school test vignettes. An absolutely fantastic way to review any specific topic and drill in those last details. Explanations also reference pages and figures in the Gray’s Anatomy book so you can fully understand the reasoning behind any question, overall a fantastic supplementary resource. If you don’t feel like you have enough good practice questions, it’s a good resource for sure.
Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy 3.5/5
Another famous Anatomy text. Unlike Gray’s Anatomy this Atlas of Human Anatomy by Dr. Netter provides amazingly detailed plates of the human body. For any learner visual or otherwise this book is a must as it will greatly aid you in any wet or dry anatomy labs and any visual tests. It is a great way to conceptualize areas of the body, and provides a great amount of detail in each plate.
Netter’s Anatomy Flash Cards 4/5
One of the best ways to study anatomy is by flash cards. Anatomy is unfortunately not a subject where visual flashcards can easily be made. Netter’s Flash Cards are one of the most highly recommended, although other great flash cards also exist. It provides a great way to learn and memorize names of certain anatomical regions and further conceptualize anatomical relationships and landmarks.
BRS Gross Anatomy 4/5
Another great supplementary anatomy resource. BRS provides a clinical look at gross anatomy, and has some of the toughest but most comprehensive questions at the end of their chapters. A great guide for understanding complex concepts and testing your knowledge. I personally used it to brush up on several concepts for Step 1, and thought it was one of the better BRS books available.
Acland’s DVD Atlas of Human Anatomy 3/5
While expensive, I was a big fan of them. If you are not able to get constant access to a wet anatomy lab, Acland’s is able to walk you through every aspect of specific body systems in a systematic and clear manner. They are a bit old, but they did a fantastic job and I personally often watched them while commuting or doing other mundane tasks. Perhaps a bit dated now, but if you need something to watch it’s a good go to.
The University of Michigan provides a great array of online resources. I loved them when I was taking anatomy, unfortunately it appears that in 2013 they have begun moving many of their resources behind a student identification system. They also have a visible human project, which you can find here.
The University of Dartmouth has also begun moving many of their resources online. You will find several samples here for Anatomy as well as Histology.
Lastly the University of Wisconsin have also begun posting anatomy dissections online. They come with the ability to watch them at 1.5x as well, which is a nice bonus.
I found Biochemistry one of the more difficult medical school subjects, and I believe many students were in a similar position. It’s vital to find out very quickly what works for you, and prepare accordingly.
Marks’ Basic Medical Biochemistry – 4/5
A very through introductory guide to biochemistry. Fantastic general reference that will fill in any gaps from lecture, and is detailed enough to act as a great supplementary resource. Biochemistry is a topic where students prefer different resources, but this acts as a good general text-book. I personally thought this was one of the better Biochemistry books out there.
Rapid Review Biochemistry – 3.5/5
Another good book from the rapid review series, it much like Mark’s serves to act as a supplemental guide. It is more focused and less academic, so Mark’s is a bit better if you need detailed information but Rapid Review Biochemistry provides a great overview and useful review to understand fundamental medical biochemistry. Once again this is more of a review book and not a general reference. If you are looking for a general reference consider Lippincotts Biochemistry.
Histology: A Text and Atlas (Ross) – 3/5
Not many students struggle with histology, but for some students who are not as visual an extra guide can be very useful. This book is a great general review and is a fantastic textbook for any students looking for some extra help in Histology to fill in what isn’t provided in lecture. There are also a great number of online resources available for histology.
Clinical Microbiology MRS – 4.5/5
The best Microbiology book by far, this book revolutionized how I studied and understood Microbiology. While it is a difficult topic for most medical students to master if you have any difficulty whatsoever in microbiology pick up this book. It teaches it in a very understandable and memorable way for medical students. This book is highly used and recommended by many medical students and is often used for a great Step 1 Review book.
Robbins Basic Pathology – 4.5/5
Synonymous with pathology, Robbins provides a detailed look into everything Pathology. Arguably the most difficult and the most important class of medical school, most students will struggle during some aspect of Pathology. Robbin’s provides the backbone of everything you’ll need to learn about pathology, a great resource to create slides for presentations or learn more about lecture topics (which you will have to do). It is not a quick review type of book, rather it is the most detailed and through book available for medical students.
Rapid Review Pathology – 4/5
Written by the famous Dr. Goljan this book provides a great supplementary book to studying Pathology. Unlike Robbin’s this book doesn’t seek to teach you everything there is to know about pathology but rather provides a great review guide for a topic before writing an exam. There are many specifics and connections that this book greatly help with which may just put you over the top in your Pathology class, and for this reason it remains a favorite of many medical students.
Before you begin make sure to check out their errata 3rd edition (.docx file).
BRS Pathology – 3/5
Another great review book, to supplement lecture notes and Robbins for a quick review on a topic. Formatted in a similar manner as all BRS Books, it provides a great resource for those looking for even more help in Pathology and don’t prefer Rapid Review or other books. I’d rate it as a good secondary source for Pathology.
An increasingly popular choice among students, many students love the full color guide text book and lectures. More and more students are switching to using this from other guides, for students who prefer visual instruction it’s a fantastic resource. Lately it’s been garnering rave reviews. After reviewing the book and lectures myself recently (it became more popular after I had already taken Pathology), I can without reservation give it a 5/5. It is an absolutely fantastic resource.
Immunology & Cell Biology
Lange Review of Medical Microbiology and Immunology 3/5
Lange makes a great review for both microbiology and immunology. A great supplement to any lecture notes, this book provides a great amount of detail for students struggling with medical immunology. Immunology tends to be a topic of growing importance in medical school, but our experiences have been that the focus of the course varies greatly institution to institution. As such it’s incredibly difficult to suggest one book over another.
High-Yield Immunology – 3.5/5
A great book from the High-Yield series, the sole focus of this book is immunology. If you have no background in the topic it’s a great book to understanding and cementing fundamental concepts and provides a quick review come exam time. One of the more popular Immunology alone review books.
High-Yield Cell and Molecular Biology – 3/5
Another book from the High-Yield series set up in an easy to review format. While not a topic that is often covered extensively, for students lacking an undergraduate biology experience it provides a great background and supporting resource. Again this is especially useful if you have no or a limited background in cellular biology.
High-Yield Biostatistics 3.5/5
A fantastic book for biostatistics, several students often struggle with this topic as it is so unrelated to anything else in medical school. This book provides excellent fundamentals and will teach you more than enough about the topic. Great examples, and very easy to understand.
Physiology (Costanzo Physiology) – 3.5/5
A great textbook to learn the fundamentals about physiology. Physiology will likely determine how well you understand other medical topics and along with pathology is it critical in real life medical practice and on the boards. This book provides more than enough detail to learn any subject with a great series of diagrams and explanations. This serves as a reference book more so than a quick review book, and as such is incredibly detailed.
BRS Physiology – 4.5/5
A fantastic guide to physiology, likely the best review book for physiology available. Explains fully any specific topics that you may struggle with and does so in a quick but simple manner. One of the better BRS books out there in my opinion, and a great review even once you have completed physiology. One of the best Physiology review books not only for exams, but also for the USMLE Step 1. Questions inside are also a great test to ensure you understand detailed mechanics. A great resource for all medical students.
High-Yield Neuroanatomy 4/5
The part that most students struggle with in Neuroscience is the Neuroanatomy. This High Yield guide provides a great supplementary guide to any neuroscience lectures, First Aid or any other review book. While extremely detailed, it provides the basic fundamentals for understanding Neuroanatomy in an functional and clinical manner.
BRS Pharmacology 3.5/5
A great review book for all things Pharmacology. Medical Pharmacology consists mostly of mechanisms and memorization, and a review book is often all that is needed to supplement lecture notes. This guide provides an excellent fall back for any specific topics that need review.
PharmCards: Review Cards for Medical Students 3.5/5
Flash Cards remain the most popular and likely one of the best ways to review Pharmacology. While many flash cards exist, this set has diagrams as well as mechanisms tailored specifically for medical students. It is among the most popular Medical Flash cards, and covers all pharmacology topics extensively.