15+ Year Member
Apr 22, 2004
Someone at my school (who took Step 1) recommended that we memorize lab values (which would decrease time spent looking up lab values) for the Step 1 exam. I am not good at memorizing numbers for so many parameters.

My question is: Are there lab values that I should focus on (those that are esp. high yield or consistently show up on the exam)? That way, it would speed up the test taking process.

One way I'm thinking is to go through questions. Hopefully, after a while, normals will begin to stick in my head.

Thanks again.


Gargamel always had a thing for blondes.
Staff member
15+ Year Member
Jun 6, 2001
Attending Physician
I didn't bother trying to memorize normal lab values for step 1...keep in mind that "normal" ranges can vary from hospital to hospital as well. I don't recall needing to look up lab values during the test either---maybe one or two questions out of 350. (I looked more up on step 2, actually, for the weird labs you don't see on the wards very often, and time was not an issue).

I would know normal pH, PCO2, pO2, HCO3 (pulmonary questions) and maybe BUN, creatinine, Na and K values (renal stuff). Liver function tests (AST, ALT, etc.) usually are either really high (>100) or normalish (<50), so memorizing normal values is not useful--it's either way high or non-specific for a diagnosis. Anything else (TSH, PRL, adrenal hormone levels) would be really low yield to memorize IMHO---few questions would give you the actual lab value for those things on step 1.


10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
May 25, 2004
assembly line
probably will get an idea of lab values from doing your school's exam questions. i mean i'm sure you have a general idea of stuff. things that are in single digits are pretty low yield to memorize because it's too hard to remember. things like serum albumin and calcium are low yield for that reason. things like fasting glucose, hemoglobin, Na are good to know. bottom line is that either you know it naturally or don't worry about it. i usually have plenty of time while doing qbank anyway, and so do most people i think. i would use that effort in memorizing lab values and memorize more bugs or drugs instead.