The NBME has changed the way USMLE Step 2 CK used to be. This was probably done to make it a universal exam since Step 1 has become pass and fail. More attention has been shifted to Step 2 CK and it is now tougher than it used to be in previous years. There is now an increased emphasis and questions on patient care and more of ethics.
How To Prepare For USMLE Step 2 CK
1. Prepare Very Well for Step 1
An important thing when preparing for Step 2 CK is to have a good Step 1 foundation. If you are prepared for the Step 1 or you have gotten a really good score on it, Step 2 CK is just going to be easy for you. This is because a lot of Step 2 questions are based on Step 1.
About 60 – 70% of Step 2 CK is Step 1. The extra knowledge required is to know what the next best step is. Questions on conditions that are supposed to be sometimes normal are also asked. For instance, questions on conditions such as transient erythroblastopenia, what happens in pregnancy and others.
The single best way and most important technique to prepare for Step 2 CK is making sure that you prepare very well for Step 1. The reason is there are not so many good learning resources for Step 2 CK as there are for Step 1.
2. Solve a Lot of Questions
Step 2 CK is a very variable exam, meaning it is an exam based on algorithms and context of the question. There is basically no answer that is always going to stand out to you. Most of the options you will see are basically part of a step and what is required is that you choose the next best step.
When you do a lot of questions, you see observe the variability with every single question and notice that that the single next best step changes with every question and context.
3. Solve Questions using Question Banks
The best resource for questions is UWorld, which has everything you need. It teaches about 80 – 90% of the questions that show up on Step 2 CK. UWorld is a comprehensive resource that covers everything for Step 2 CK. Another good question bank for Step 2 CK is AMBOSS.
AMBOSS contains a lot of concepts from UWorld and kind of tweaks the questions. It makes them a bit harder and confusing. It is a really good way to revise UWorld. It is also a good way to access your test-taking skills. AMBOSS also has an amazing library for Step 2 CK which has everything you need. If you have less time to prepare and want to skip AMBOSS you can just stick to practicing with UWorld.
You also have to keep in mind that UWorld has been increasing the number of questions they have and so you may not have adequate time to use AMBOSS.
4. Revise With Anki
Anki is a great resource for revision. There are pre-made decks called the Zanki deck and the Anking deck. There is a shorter one called Tzanki, which is a combination of UWorld and AMBOSS. This contains all the high yield flow charts, tables and concepts from UWorld made into in a single deck. It is a very good way to quickly revise and refresh your memory a bit.
Anki is very helpful in revising UWorld.It is an amazing resource for reviewing all the algorithms and memorizing each and every single step in the algorithm.
5. Listen to Divine Intervention Podcast
Divine intervention podcast is also a really good resource. The podcast is by Divine, a resident in the U.S who knows a lot about questions asked by the NBME. He talks about the high yield areas and revises them. You can listen to the podcast while you are working out or doing some chore. The podcast takes you through all the high yield concepts and introduces you to a few things that even UWorld doesn’t mention.
6. Take a Clinical Mastery Series Self-Assessment
Self-assessments from the Clinical Mastery Series (CMS) are designed for students taking an NBME Clinical Science Subject Exam. They feature multiple-choice questions on clinical science content typically covered during a clerkship or medical education course.
CMS forms give a glimpse into the nature of the NBME exams. Taking the self-assessment tests will also give you an understanding of the question style and what kind of questions you will be asked.
Must-do practice tests for Step 2 CK are NBME 6, NBME 7 and NBME 8. These may be kind of a bit outdated but giving them a try is definitely worth it. The UWorld Self-Assessments (UWSA) 1 and 2 are good representatives of the Step 2 CK. They simulate Step 2 CK in its toughness and question stem length.
The USMLE Step 2 CK is a very important exam. Do your best throughout clinical rotations, look for the finest tools that work for YOU, make time and fully prepare for devoted periods, and, most importantly, build confidence in yourself.