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    MedStudy vs MKSAP: The Difference for ABIM Review


    medstudy vs mksap for internal medicine reviewMedStudy vs MKSAP comparison chart of major differences

    The “boards.” Yikes! Just that word brings up all sorts of tumultuous emotions reflecting just how important this exam is to you. 

    The boards are a big, big test and, given it's impact on your peace of mind and your career, you really want to pass it. Heck, it wouldn’t hurt to pass it with high scores. 

    In preparing to study, you first want to find the very best board study material out there.

    So, surely, you’re going to do quite a bit of research before you choose which materials you’re going to use to prepare. We get that. And we want to help!

    The two most popular ABIM certification exam study tools are MedStudy and MKSAP 19*. Let’s compare them.

    MedStudy vs MKSAP: Which is more board-focused?

    Ah! The key question. You certainly don’t want to waste your precious study time on nonessential information.

    Katie Serventi, MD on the differences between MKSAP vs MedStudy

    MedStudy Content

    MedStudy is built from the ground up to teach the medical knowledge a competent Internal Medicine physician should know, and the boards test for understanding of this exact same knowledge. We teach for a comprehensive understanding of the material, including the fundamentals. 

    Since our inception in 1990, we have been the most focused and comprehensive board review. MedStudy covers all 18 Medical Content Categories of the ABIM exam blueprint; the MKSAP addresses 17 of the 18 (not A&I). 

    Here are a few examples of what you'll find in MedStudy’s Core, but not in the MKSAP19 set:


    • A complete tutorial on how to read the 12-Lead ECG with a clear explanation of all components and 22 practice ECGs with in-depth interpretations
    • Review of pulses, murmurs, heart sounds, and waveforms
    • Detailed review of structural and functional changes associated with cardiovascular disease

    Pulmonary Medicine

    • Complete review of basic physiology—respiratory volumes, flow-volume loops, the oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve—and pulmonary function tests associated with various diseases


    • Renal physiology clearly and concisely explained as a basis for understanding renal diseases, hypertension, diuretics, RTAs, and the RAAS (renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system)


    • Physiology of the stomach explained as a basis for understanding gastritis, ulcer syndromes, and use of current acid-reducing medications
    • Nutritional overview including specific deficiencies and overdoses

    Infectious Disease

    • A disease-based review like MKSAP19, but in addition: 
      • a dedicated organism-based review
      • a section on antimicrobial agents
      • a section on vaccines


    MKSAP Content

    MKSAP 19 is an in-depth review of current trends and changes in Internal Medicine—that is the focus of its 1,500+ pages. It doesn’t teach must-know fundamental concepts, as the above examples indicate. 

    Also, as of fall 2023, MKSAP 19 printed books are unavailable for purchase. 

    The digital MKSAP internal medicine set of 12 syllabus sections "offers the most up-to-date information, with incorporation of regular ‘New Info Updates’ to reflect practice-changing information, guidelines, and expert recommendations.” 

    They recommend you study the entire MKSAP 19 and then review the 392-page Board Basics book one month before your test.


    MedStudy's 20th Edition Core has 1,042 intensely board-focused educational pages. These are printed in a 5-volume set or can be accessed digitally through your myMedStudy account. 

    MKSAP 19, with Board Basics, has about 1,500 educational pages (excluding Q&As) that cover a mix of updates and board-focused material.  MKSAP 19 consists of 12 volumes with Board Basics as an add-on product—these are also available in digital format.

    MedStudy vs MKSAP: How to take your studying to the next level

    MedStudy has over 1,700 board-style digital Q&As. And 500+ illness scripts (standard illness presentations) on flashcards (available in print or digital). These are part of the Internal Medicine Essentials package and integrated into the digital Core.

    MKSAP 19 has 1,200 (print ± add-on digital) Q&As. There are no Q&As in the Board Basics book. They have 200 Extension Questions, 1,200 flashcards, and 400 Virtual Dx questions. These are part of the Complete and Complete Green packages.

    MedStudy vs MKSAP: Integrated study methodology 

    MedStudy spent years optimizing a science-based approach to studying that's interwoven into all content: The MedStudy Method. It takes you through the three phases of learning, locking the must-know medical material into your long-term memory.

    3 essential phases of learning:

    1. Preview
    2. Study
    3. Spaced Retrieval

    Our study materials are formatted to work perfectly with these powerful learning principles. Our StudyWise guide takes you through our current understanding of the memory process, best evidence-based study techniques, and the MedStudy Method.

    MKSAP 19 does not have a study methodology associated with it. 

    Automated learning plan

    MedStudy has a new Personal Trainer that’s an automated, interactive learning plan. It guides you through the must-know information and locks it into your long-term memory using the MedStudy Method.

    Personal Trainer gives you a continuously updated, personalized study plan based on the content you need to learn and how much time you have. Your super-smart Personal Trainer creates weekly assignments and displays them on your study board.

    medstudy's personalized study board on a laptop

    MedStudy’s personalized Study Board

    Personal Trainer adapts to any changes in your schedule, keeps track of what you accomplish, and provides encouraging feedback along the way. 

    Personal Trainer is included with most MedStudy products. 

    MKSAP 19 gives you an online dashboard where you create your own learning plan based on your areas of need. As you progress through MKSAP internal medicine study tools, you can build an individualized plan to get through additional reading, questions, flashcards, and links to other resources. 

    In other words, it gives you a digital platform to calendar and plan for yourself.

    MedStudy vs MKSAP: Formatting

    medstudy vs mksap formattingThe first pages of the Gastro section show formatting differences between MedStudy (left) and MKSAP (right)

    MedStudy uses formatting and visuals in the Core as additional ways to summarize content, clarify concepts, indicate extremely board-relevant content, and even work alongside the MedStudy Method to help you truly learn the material.

    Soft yellow highlighting designates must-know information; burgundy text means tonal emphasis (words that a great lecturer would emphasize); bold type denotes important lists and defined terms.

    We have carefully crafted drawings, medical images (scans, x-rays, scopes, and photos), tables, and charts.

    At the beginning of each major topic is a set of Preview | Review questions that are used in Personal Trainer during the preview, study, and review stages of learning.

    In MKSAP 19, the key points are repeated in a yellow box at the end of a topic. High-value care recommendations are at the front of each volume and noted in the text. 

    Just like MedStudy, they include summary tables and images.

    MedStudy vs MKSAP: Frequency of updates comparing mksap versus medstudy frequency of updates

    Release schedules of MedStudy and MKSAP

    It is stunning to see all the changes that occur in Internal Medicine in a year.

    To keep up, MedStudy continuously updates digital resources and releases a new, fully rewritten print edition of the Core every 2 years.

    With each new edition, our section editors add or trim content based on new guidelines, experts’ consensus statements, ABIM blueprint changes, and user feedback. Our goal is that every new edition is much better than the last one. And the brand new 20th Edition is available for purchase now. 

    Our digital products receive regular updates based on the same criteria—new guidelines, experts’ consensus statements, ABIM blueprint changes, and user feedback.

    MKSAP puts out a new, rewritten edition every 3 years that is initially shipped in 2 parts. For example, MKSAP 19 Part A was released in August of 2021 and Part B was released in January 2022.

    MedStudy vs MKSAP: Cost

    medstudy versus mksap what's the price difference
    The cost of MedStudy vs MKSAP

    Purchasing from MedStudy

    MedStudy costs the same, $1,297, no matter which format of Core you choose (but our digital text does have added functionality, like search). This includes the Core, Flashcards, Q&As, and Personal Trainer. 

    If you want to upgrade to the All-Access package, you’ll get the Core in both formats (print and digital), plus all of the study boosters. 

    Want to be a minimalist? Pricing for the digital Core starts at $499 and includes digital access to the new IM books, Preview | Review questions, and Personal Trainer (a $300 value). 

    Plus, special rates are available for groups of 5 or more.

    Purchasing from MKSAP


    MKSAP 19 is $658 for digital and $839 for Complete Green if you're not a member of ACP. Don't forget that you'll need to add Board Basics to your MKSAP package, which is $130. All-in, you're spending $969 if you want MKSAP 19 study materials + Board Basics. 

    MKSAP does provide membership pricing for MKSAP products—and it’s important to remember to factor your annual membership fees into the cost of your study materials. 

    Their membership fees are $369 per year, up until 8 years post-med school, then they jump to $565 annually. 

    mksap membership 03.04.2024

    ACP annual membership fees

    The Bottom Line: When factoring in membership fees, there is a nominal price difference between MedStudy and MKSAP. The decision to buy should be more about what will work best for you than the price you pay in either case. You definitely do not want to have to take the exam again!

    MedStudy vs MKSAP: Reviews 

    MedStudy versus MKSAP review quote from ABIM official student doctor network threadMedStudy vs MKSAP review from a Student Doctor Network thread

    MedStudy versus MKSAP review quote from MedStudy customer
    MedStudy vs MKSAP review from a Student Doctor Network thread


    MedStudy versus MKSAP review quote from ABIM official student doctor network thread

    MedStudy vs MKSAP review from a Student Doctor Network thread


    There you have it! MKSAP vs. MedStudy. Now make sure you've got the important dates calendar so you make all the registration deadlines. You're well on your way to success!


    *This comparison looks at the products for MedStudy (MedStudy 20th Edition Internal Medicine Core) and MKSAP (MKSAP 19). The information was gathered on 5/25/22 and is subject to change.

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