Third year of medical school is such an exciting time. You are now seeing patients and spending most of your time in the clinic and hospitals and less time with your face in a book. Depending on your respective institution, you may be taking less exams then you did your first and second year and only have to take whats called “shelf exams.” These are exams that you take at the end of each clerkship you complete before moving onto the next one. I wanted to share resources that I found very helpful for me during each clerkship I completed. These of course are not all the resources out there and some may recommend others, these are just what I found helpful to aid in me answering questions and ultimately doing well on my shelf exams.

Here are a list of my favorite resources for each clerkship:

  1. Pediatric Rotation:

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A. Case Files Pediatrics is an excellent resource to use while on this clerkship. It has 60 cases to complete that have a variety of different topics that are sure to prepare you for what you will see on the wards and on the exam. I tried to complete 2 cases a day during the week and 3-4 over the weekend to ensure I got through the whole book. I would recommend using a classmates who isn’t on the clerkship with you or purchase one on amazon for under $30.

B. UWORLD Q Bank (Pediatric section) is your go to for every clerkship. It contains questions for each clerkship and it is sure to prepare you for your shelf exams as well as Step 2 CK. I tried to complete at minimum 10 questions a day if not more to make sure I completed them all at least once before the exam.

C. Pretest Pediatrics is a great resource if you like to do tons of questions before an exam. If after you’ve gone through UWORLD Questions and you still want to do more pretest is your go to. It has 1,000+ questions on different topics and at the end of each chapter they have the answers with the explanations.

2. Surgery Rotation:

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A. Surgical Recall is that resource you want to keep handy and review as much as possible. It will help you tremendously on the wards when you are getting asked questions. I would invest in this, it will be worth it!

B. Pestanas Surgery Notes This resource is excellent for your final review before your exam. It summarizes topics very well. I wouldn’t use it as your primary study source, but I would certainly use it as review.

C. Step Up to Medicine This will be your go to for Internal medicine and Step 2 CK prep, but if you haven’t heard already the surgery shelf has a lot of medicine on it so it’s best to use this to review those topics.

D. UWORLD Q bank (Surgery and Medicine ) You want to complete the surgery section and since the surgery shelf exam also has a lot of medicine topics I would try and do as many medicine as time will allow. Once again, I tried to complete at minimum 10 questions a day if not more to make sure I completed them all before the exam.

3. Womens Health Rotation:

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A. Case Files Obstetrics & Gynecology I highly recommend this resource for your Womens Health clerkship. Each case is jam packed with so much helpful information for the wards and the shelf.  I was super ambitious and got through each case twice. Remember pace yourself and try and do at least 2 a day during the week and more on the weekend.

B. Blueprint Obstetrics & Gynecology This is a great resource for preparing for quizzes and the shelf exam. Each chapter is very easy to read and not too long.

C. Firecracker OBGYN Section you have to actually purchase a subscription for firecracker, which contains every clerkship topic. This is overall helpful for Step 2, but I specifically think the OBGYN section was great to study. It summarizes topics and also has a Q bank for extra practice in addition to UWORLD questions.

D. UWORLD Q bank (OBGYN): You want to complete the OBGYN section and once again, I tried to complete at minimum 10 questions a day if not more to make sure I completed them all before the exam.

4. Family Medicine Rotation:

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A. Pretest Family Medicine This is your go to for practice questions. There isn’t a UWOLRD section for Family Medicine, so this is what you use as your main question bank source. It also explains why the answer is correct and why all the other answers are incorrect. Try and do a handful (roughly 10-20 qs) because it has over 1000+ questions and you want to do and see as many as possible before the shelf exam.

B. Case Files Family Medicine I personally found this resource to be extremely helpful. The cases are so thorough and you really learn so much. I thought it was such a good resource to prepare,  I went through the cases twice.

C. Step Up to Medicine “Ambulatory Section” At the very end of this book there is an ambulatory section that goes over a lot of preventative medicine and vaccination schedules. This is the meat of Family Medicine so it’s important to know. It’s a very short chapter so you can look at it closer to your exam or review a little bit at a time daily.

5. Psychiatry Rotation:

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A. First Aid for Psychiatry is your absolute go to resource to study for the clerkship. It does an excellent job discussing what I believe are the most important and heavily tested topics. You may have heard already that the Psychiatry shelf is one of the “easier” ones and you can really score high on it. If you study First Aid Psychiatry inside and out, I can guarantee you will do well.

B. Firecracker Psychiatry section once again this is excellent for a quick review of topics and it also has questions for extra practice.

C. UWORLD Q bank (Psychiatry) You want to complete the Psychiatry section and complete at minimum 10 questions a day if not more to make sure I completed them all before the exam.

6. Internal Medicine Rotation:

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A. Step Up to Medicine this is your “bible” for this clerkship and for Step 2 CK preparation. It is such a thorough book, you would be a fool to not have it in your tool box of resources. You essential want to know it inside & out, so that means you should have at least 2 passes of the book. I love this book, because it’s so detailed and I feel like they cover the high yield topics. It is essentially equivalent to First Aid for Step 1. This is your First Aid for Step 2CK.

B. Pocket Medicine is your go to resource for the wards. It’s small enough to fit in your white coat pocket and has every IM topic with explanations.

C. Emma Holiday Powerpoint You may have heard of Emma holiday for surgery, well she also has an Internal Medicine review powerpoint. I like to use Emma holiday towards the end of my study period a few days before the exam just to get a last minute review and to close any knowledge gaps.

D. UWORLD Q bank (Internal Medicine) This section has over 1000+ questions, so you want to make sure you get a head start and do as many as you can a day to ensure you get through the questions at least once before your shelf exam and then again for Step 2 CK dedicated time.

8. Other Clerkships: Emergency Medicine Rotation & Neurology

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A. Case Files EM is an excellent source to prepare you for the shelf and wards. It has 60 cases, so you want to do a minimum of 2 cases a day to make sure you get through all the cases. Another great resource for practice question ROSS or AMBOSS. I believe your respective institution will provide you with the question banks.

B. Pretest Neurology This is great for completing tons of practice questions. It has 1,000+ questions so start early to get as many done as possible!

*Remember these are just my recommended resources to use to prepare for didactics, shelf exams and the wards. These are the sources I found to be helpful for my preparation and success for each clerkship. These are not the only resources out there so please feel free to share more resources or comment on the ones above!

Happy Studying! 🙂



  1. I loved MKSAP for medical students for my Internal Medicine rotation. The questions and cases kick your rear end but in the end, I aced USMLE Step 2 with a very high score. I was a reader (read NEJM every week-habit from day 1 of med school) and read everything I could about each patient I treated. My reading habit kept me strong in residency (surgery) and fellowship (vascular).


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