Free Online Medical School Learning Resources

If I could go back to the first two years of medical school, I would buy USMLE World and make it an integral part of my longitudinal studying. The more I look back, the more I believe that doing questions as a primary learning activity formed the basis of the vast majority of my medical knowledge (Wikipedia probably filled in the rest).

Studying for Step 1 isn’t something you do for a month or two at the end of your second year; it’s actually a great way to learn the basic sciences for the first time as well. But for those looking online for additional sources to get you through your first two years (and sometimes you just need to read), the following is a compilation of free online resources for studying the basic sciences in medical school, including lectures and question banks.

Anatomy & physiology

SUNY downstate has a virtual anatomy practical, which is an excellent accompaniment to hours in the cadaver lab and Rohen’s. It also has a virtual dissection section, but the software/organization is a bit tedious. The University of Utah has a great neuroanatomy online anatomy section (as well as anatomy, pathology, and more).

Michael Anson has a Creative Commons-licensed question book that is freely downloadable online and contains more than 3600 questions in anatomy and physiology. The book is written in a fill in the blank style much to aid in fast memorization, much like Felson’s and Dubin’s.

Wikibooks has a free textbook, Human Physiology, which is actually pretty good. It’s nice to have a second easily-accessible resource online sometimes.


The Medical Biochemistry Page is a nice little (but still dense) online text-book of clinical biochemistry. If your lecture slides are poor or your instructor doesn’t speak English (or both), you might supplement with these quick articles.


Histology World – an exhaustive and multi-sensory histology learning site, including pictures, audio, games, and quizzes. If you can ignore the mid-1990s’ site design, there’s a lot to learn.

Blue Histology also has images and great quizzes.

BU’s Histology Learning System is also beloved and has images that you can click to label/unlabel to learn your stuff.

The University of Michigan has what amounts to an entire histology course available online. The quality is excellent.

Temple has a nice collection of labelled histology and imaging slides to help learn neuroanatomy. UCSD medpics has even more.


Todar’s Online Textbook of Bacteriology is excellent. It just is. No fungi, parasites, or viruses though.

The University of South Carolina School of Medicine has an online microbio textbook that includes immunology, bacteriology, parasitology, virology, and mycology. You can use the site (it even has a stripped formatting version for mobile devices) or download pdf/ppt files.

Baron’s Medical Microbiology (4th ed) is also available online for free from the NCBI. It’s a real, thick textbook and best used as a resource PRN.

Medfools has high-yield microbiology charts for bacterial, fungal, and parasitic pathology. The series is only missing viruses. Many of your classmates will spend oodles of time making their own, but these are probably better (if you’re the kind of person who can stomach endless rows of microbiology crammed as tight as possible).

The Merck Manual of Infectious Disease is well-organized and concise.


UPMC has a nice collection of pathology cases—these are extremely academic in nature and very dense, not for the feint of heart. (The Robbins casebook is a far easier way to learn high-yield pathology for board purposes).


Some free online questions from Utah here are a nice self-assessment.


Tulane has some nice interactive/instructional pharmacology quizzes organized by body system/use.


MedMaster has learning tools for USMLE Step 1 and Step 2, a nice Atlas of Microbiology, and several other free downloads.

The University of Utah has a massive online resource that includes cross-sectional anatomy, neuroanatomy, pathology, and histology images, in addition to a large pathology question bank (in board-style format).

For the second-year clinical sciences (and beyond), The Merck Manual has great, well-organized and concise content on nearly all high-yield topics. MEDSKL is a growing site filled with polished & painless basic clinical medicine lectures.

You can find my recommendations for basic science textbooks and the preclinical NBME shelf exams here. My list of free online Step 1 questions is here.


Sebastian Telfair 10.27.13 Reply

Are you sure you’re a medical student/resident? I found these pics of you that suggest otherwise.. Great lats bro

Ben 10.27.13 Reply

Haha, yes, I am a resident these days. As you discovered though, “The Showstopper” is by far a more famous Ben White.

KLove 12.07.13 Reply

Great resources Ben! One correction though: the online microbiology text book is from University of South Carolina School of Medicine (USCSOM) not the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

Ben 12.07.13 Reply

Indeed it is, thanks for the heads up.

Clara 04.09.14 Reply

Thank you so much for this and all the other med-related advice!

sarah 06.15.17 Reply

Just wanted to give you the biggest thanks for the time you have taken to compile these resources and give your advice. You are a blessing!

Ben 06.16.17 Reply

You’re welcome!

Craig 02.07.20 Reply

Thanks! KJ7ERn

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