Many of the best selling medical applications in the App Store are well known textbooks or reference guides which have been ported to the iOS system. These books are often interactive, searchable and generally easier to transport around than a thick pocket book in a white coat. However, as we’ve seen many times before, the jump to mobile has not been easy for some publishers.

The PreTest series is the latest to get the iOS treatment with a number of books in the series released by Modality over the past few months. The most recent, PreTest Pharmacology is designed for students preparing for the USMLE Step 1 and general pharmacology exams. It contains over 500 questions covering twelve essential content areas. And while this mobile incarnation is one that could be even better than the print version, it faces the same pitfall as many of its peers.

Upon launching this application, users are presented with four options: New Quiz, Saved Quizzes, Question Browser, and Cumulative Stats. Selecting a new quiz allows users to create a quiz testing specific content areas; alternatively, it allows users to create a quiz based on their bookmarks. This is particularly helpful as it allows user to test themselves on questions they may find challenging. Other user-defined options include setting a question timer, adjusting the number of questions and selecting whether or not to include previously answered questions.



The content in each question is based on the book and there are a number of multiple choice options. Each question has an option to be saved as a bookmark for review in the future. Once a quiz has been submitted, the correct answers are highlighted for each question and the rationale behind each answer is displayed.


The content and detail of the rationale is ideal for improving understanding and it is set at a level appropriate for users. There are also references to pharmacology texts for those looking for further information; it should be noted that the level of detail in the application is fine for all but the most challenging of questions. It is also possible to view statistics for each particular question in addition to statistics for the quiz overall.


The question browser mode allows users to browse through questions in either sections or bookmarks. Helpfully, the application displays your statistics for answering questions allowing you to identify areas and questions which may be the user’s weakness. It is possible to check your answer for each question immediately and the rationale is easily accessible. The abundant use of statistics throughout the application is a very useful feature and one which helps separate PreTest Pharmacology from other multiple choice applications.


The only question mark lies over its price. A cursory glance at Amazon shows that it is possible to buy the book (which contains the same content) for $17.28 which is cheaper than the $29.99 for the application. This is a common issue amongst textbook applications which have been transferred into the App Store and it remains to be seen whether the availability of the content elsewhere will dent sales.


  • $29.99


  • Well written content pitched at an ideal level for target audience
  • Statistics everywhere helps identify weaknesses early


  • Question marks over price

Overall Rating

  • Overall, this application has made a very successful transition to the iPhone interface.
  • It carries out its function in a highly effective manner and is a sound purchase for anyone looking for a solid in-depth self-test resource.

iTunes link