The USMLE Step 2 CK is becoming one of the most important exams in the world. When screening applicants for a residency program, program directors want to use something uniform and objective in order to easily streamline their pool of applicants. This had always been made easy by the USMLE Step 1 exam, which used to be the bane of the existence of medical students and doctors who want to practice in the US. Upon agitations from stakeholders, Step 1 has been converted to pass/fail.
As the USMLE Step 1 is turning into a pass/fail test, more importance would be placed on the Step 2 CK. This means that it would be very advantageous to score very high in Step 2 CK. But how does one do this?
In this article, we highlight 5 effective tricks which have helped students all around the world score very high in their Step 2 CK exam.
1. Build a strong foundation in your clerkship years
Unlike Step 1, Step 2 CK is more clinically focused. Given this, success on Step 2 starts with concerted studying throughout the clerkship year. Many students choose to use the UWorld Step 2 CK question bank to aid in clerkship study and prepare for shelf exams. This is highly recommended as it helps you prepare for Step 2 as well as ace your shelf exams. In addition, using the UWorld Step 2 CK QBank during clerkship year is advisable because there is evidence that USMLE performance increases directly with the total number of questions performed.
2. Take step 2 within 5-6 months of finishing your clinical rotations
As we know that clinical experiences are so key to Step 2 CK-relevant knowledge, you should aim to take Step 2 within 6 months of finishing your core clinical rotations. However, clerkship year is exhausting and may contribute to burnout. If the prospect of jumping immediately into Step 2 study after finishing rotations is too exhausting, you can take some time for reset and recovery on lighter rotations before jumping back into intense study preparation
3. Study for Step 2 for as long as you can
It doesn’t matter when you take Step 2 CK, if you want to score 270+, you need to have a dedicated study period with no other significant obligations to consolidate your knowledge and hammer home exam prep. Do not rush yourself into the exam. Study for as long as you can. However, remember that prolonging the dedicated study for more than 2 months is not advisable, as the likelihood of forgetting topics studied at the beginning of your review period increases with increasing time spent studying.
4. Use practice questions as your main study material
Students usually think that the more resources they use, the better their performance. This is a fallacy. The highest yield resource for Step 2 CK is ultimately the UWorld question bank. Getting through the entire QBank and really understanding each question should be your aim in life! Doing the questions helps you not only study the material but also think about each concept in the way it would be tested on the exam. This helps your mind create a framework for answering questions on each topic early in your study.
5. Take at least 2 NBME practice exams
It is recommended that you take at least two practice exams, as these will stimulate the stress of the actual exam better than simple UWorld question blocks. This would make you rest more assured that you can tackle the exam in the actual exam conditions.