FA 2014

Fast-Forward to First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2014

FA 2014By Patrick Sylvester

First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 is updated on a yearly basis. Have you ever wondered why? Can content related to pre-clinical medical education change that much from year-to-year? Or rather, do the book editors simply move around some of the entries and redesign the cover?

As a new member of the First Aid Team involved in the development of the upcoming edition of this resource, let me assure you that we’re doing everything to provide our readers with the best possible study tools to tackle this Step 1 exam. As a student speaking to other students here in the blog-o-sphere, I can’t stress enough how we’ve tailored the development of FA2014 to the input of students at all stages.

A Collaborative Effort
So how does the edition update machine work? As new author, I can speak to some of this process (some of which is new to this particular revision/development of First Aid). While most people might readily identify the errata of previous editions as a source for potential improvement (which we’ve been sure to address), it is but one part of a collaborative review designed to bring you the best resource possible for the USMLE Step 1.

Over 4,000 subscribers to our Step 1 Qmax test bank were invited to take part in a crowd-sourced proofing of FA2013. As you can imagine, this unique strategy brought in a ton of great content and perspectives. It was then up to 22 authors to curate these comments, changes, and suggestions—all under the guidance of three seasoned editors. Oh by the way, did I mention that each of the individuals who took part in the proofing is a medical student, just like you?

Update the Old, in with the New
The 2014 authors were then tasked with the additional responsibility of developing new content and major revisions to existing entries. In all, there were over 200 of these major proposals. In order to ensure that the 2014 content was consistent with the high-yield tradition of previous editions, each of these proposals was presented to another large cohort of students for voting. It was only after this peer-review that content forwarded to expert authors and the faculty editorial group for vetting.

Has this background information has whetted your appetite for more information about the upcoming edition of First Aid for the USMLE Step 1? It’s my hope that this is just the first of a series of posts dealing with the process of developing First Aid 2014. We’ll be asking for feedback from the authors assigned to each chapter of this new edition to give you a feel for the major changes to look out for in this new edition. Our goal is by making this process more transparent, you might have a better understanding of how this book – created by students, for students – can help you prepare for and succeed on the USMLE Step 1.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a question: are you planning on using First Aid 2014 for your Step 1 study?

Why or why not?

*Please note that specific errata/suggestions should be channeled through our Step 1 errata submission form.

Categories: FA 2014

10 replies »

  1. Hi All.
    The 2014 edition of the Step 1 book is scheduled to hit Amazon on January 10th.

    Amazon almost always sells the book for about $30.00 when it first comes out, so if you’re looking to buy, you’ll get your best deal then.


  2. I have recently read that the 2014 and 2015 examinations will see an increased focus on quality improvement principles and safety science as well as a broadened focus on competency. How does the 2014 edition address these changes?


  3. Does 2014 first aid cover the changes related to DSM 5 that will be tested in step 1 exams this year? I have been using 2013 version and my exam date is 3/27. Thanks in advance


  4. Hi @Banyar. We have updated to DSM-V as it is the new standard. We recognize that we may be ahead of the USMLE in some respects, but we decided that we could not teach outdated information. Please see pg. 499 of the 2014 edition.

    Please note that the USMLE will be rolling out changes in stages. From their website…

    Because USMLE content pools are large, the transition from DSM-IV to DSM-5 criteria and terminology will need to be gradual and will likely take place over several years. The following principles will guide this transition:

    The highest priority has been given to test content assessing diagnoses that do not appear in DSM-5. This content has already been removed from USMLE examinations.
    USMLE will begin to transition content to include both DSM-IV and DSM-5 terminology. This process will begin in 2014. Start and end dates for this transition will vary by exam.


  5. @JJCC, the question of new question styles focusing on “quality improvement and safety science” is a great one, and we’re actually about to put up another post on this issue.

    @Banyar, in addition to the response above, I would emphasize that these kinds of changes are pretty gradual. Even on the psychiatry shelf exam (which I took recently) the there seems to be an obvious avoidance of topics in which the DSM-IVTR and the DSM-V disagree.


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