Purpose of App Review

  • How useful is this app in reviewing First Aid for the USMLE?


First Aid for the USMLE is a series of books used by many medical students and residents across the world to review for the US medical board exams. Usatine Media has developed an app that brings these books directly to your mobile device. This medical app is free to download but requires an in-app purchase of First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, 2013, First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 CK, 8th Edition, First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 CS, 4th Edition, and/or First Aid for the USMLE Step 3, 3rd Edition.

They are priced at $48.99 for each one.

User Interface

This app has a great layout that starts off by letting the user choose the book they wish to review.

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From there, the user can choose any chapter. Once chosen, you are taken directly to that section of the book. The book contains the exact same text that can be found in the paperback version of the book.

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One good feature of the app version is the ability to click on pictures and zoom in on them. Some of the pictures in the paperback version of the First Aid series (especially pictures of histology slides) can be too small to appreciate the detail. The app also has hyperlinks to certain charts and images that open in the browser of a mobile device.

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This medical app also allows for taking notes on any section as well as any picture. These notes can be found on the section/image they were taken on or in the notes section of the app which has a list of all the notes taken within the app.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to put notes next to specific text, which would be more useful since each section is not broken up into pages but runs continuously. Thus, having notes from the beginning of a section and the end of the section in one place may not be very useful.

The app also has the option for highlighting text in either red, purple or green. These highlights all show up on the Highlights tab of the app and can be sorted by the color used for the specific text. This can be useful if the user wants to highlight specific concepts in different colors. There is also a bookmark option for pages and images.

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The app also has a built-in search function that allows for searching for anything within the text. This is a much faster option than looking in the index of the paperback version of the book, especially when the specific search term is listed on multiple pages throughout the book. Unfortunately, there are no page numbers provided in the app in case the user wants to use the app concurrently with the paperback version.

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The app also takes parts of the paperback version–such as common presentations and cases–and organizes them into short questions with the answer hidden until the user is ready to reveal it within the app.

An option that would be great for this app would be if there was an errata within the app that updated with the current errata available on First Aid’s website. Even more useful would be if the errata linked to corresponding sections within the app.

Without this function and without the ability to directly make cross outs or markings within the app, there is no real way to make the necessary corrections when needed. This is a huge flaw since some of the First Aid for the USMLE review books come with extensive erratas and this app makes correcting those mistakes close to impossible.


  • Free to download
  • In-app purchase of each textbook is $48.99


  • Ability to zoom in on images
  • Hyperlinks found for some images and charts
  • Ability to sort highlights within text by color
  • Question format of some of the text found in the paperback version of the textbooks


  • Not possible to take notes next to specific text
  • Notes are ONLY generally associated with the corresponding section of the book
  • No way to make corrections that are found in the errata on First Aid’s website which is a huge flaw

Healthcare providers that would benefit from the app

  • Medical students and residents who are studying for the US medical licensing exams and want to study in the “mobile form.” Since this app can sync between multiple mobile iOS devices, it can make studying while on the move very convenient.


  • The app for the First Aid for the USMLE review book series is a good option for those who like to have electronic versions of textbooks. The app has some great features such as the ability to search for specific text, defining random words by clicking on them and highlighting with various colors and then sorting highlights by color. If the user is using multiple mobile iOS devices, these changes can be seen on all the devices.
  • However, the app also has some features that could be improved upon such as the note taking options and the inability to make corrections from the errata.

iMedicalApps recommended?

  • Yes

iTunes Link

Type of Device used to review app-iPad 2
Version of App-1.4

Android version of this application-Only the First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, 2013 version
Google Play Link

Rating: (1 to 5 stars): 3.5

  1. User Interface 5/5 – Great layout and very easy to use and navigate.
  2. Multimedia usage 5/5 – The app uses the same multimedia that can be found in the paperback version of the review books. This app also allows for zooming in and hyperlinking to outside sources for some images and charts.
  3. Price 1/5 – This app is free but the in-app purchase for each book is $48.99. This price is more than each costs on Amazon for the paperback version and this app version does not allow the user to make marks, cross outs, corrections, or any other manipulations that could be made to the paperback version.
  4. Real world applicability 3/5 -This app may not be as useful for the Step 1 version of the book as most students annotate notes next to specific text as well as need to make corrections from the errata. The Step 2 and Step 3 versions of the book may be more useful for students. The app is also very useful if students want a version to allow them to quickly search within the text for specific information.

This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.