So, what exactly are you preparing for?
The USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge examination is designed to measure the clinical knowledge third year med students have accumulated over the core clerkships. Step two CK is similar to step one but with most of the weight on clinical skills.
A typical question in this exam would be giving the test-taker a realistic scenario with a patient and then asking what the next step and/or diagnosis is. There are a few questions in the test that will include audio or video clips.
Step 2 CK Exam Day
The USMLE Step 2 CK is a full-day computer based test that takes 9 hours to finish. The test-takers are allowed 45-60 minutes of break time during the day depending on whether the test-taker chooses to take part in a 15 minute tutorial at the beginning of the test. Skipping the tutorial will give the test-taker 15 minutes extra break time.
No food or water is allowed on the desk during the exam but you can eat what you brought from home during the breaks. You’re not allowed to bring a watch with you into the exam but the computer will show you time during testing.
Here is an updated version of the post with more comprehensive information:
How to Effectively Prepare for the USMLE Step 2 CK Exam
Passing the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) exam is crucial for advancing in your medical career. Proper preparation is key to maximizing your score. This guide provides tips and resources to help you create an effective Step 2 CK study plan.
Overview of the USMLE Step 2 CK
The USMLE Step 2 CK tests your ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and understanding of clinical science essential for providing patient care under supervision. It covers principles of clinical sciences related to:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Pulmonary Disease
- Renal Disease
- Gastrointestinal Disease
- Endocrine Disease
- Hematologic Disease
- Oncologic Disease
- Infectious Disease
- Neurologic Disease
- Psychiatric Disease
- Musculoskeletal Disease
- Skin and Subcutaneous Tissue Disease
Step 2 CK is a one-day exam taken during your fourth year of medical school. It consists of 309 multiple choice questions divided into 8 60-minute blocks. You will have 45 minutes of break time over the course of the exam.
Step 2 CK Preparation Tips
Here are some key strategies for preparing for the Step 2 CK:
Use Question Banks
Practicing with high-quality question banks is one of the most effective ways to prepare. UWorld and Amboss are two of the top-rated banks with thousands of questions similar in style and difficulty to the real exam.
Read Review Books
Review books provide a structured content review. Some of the best Step 2 CK books include First Aid for Step 2 CK, Master the Boards USMLE Step 2 CK, and Step-Up to USMLE Step 2 CK.
Take Practice Exams
NBME practice exams like Forms 6, 7, and 8 offer the most realistic Step 2 CK simulations. Take them under timed conditions in the weeks leading up to your test date.
Focus on Weak Areas
Analyze your practice test and qbank performance to identify weak areas, and spend more time studying those subjects.
Learn Test-Taking Strategies
Sharpen skills like pace management, educated guessing, and eliminating bad answers. Strategies help overcome test anxiety and avoid mistakes.
Simulate Testing Conditions
Take practice tests in an environment mimicking the real thing. Sit for 8 hours, take timed breaks, and avoid distractions to adjust to the demands of test day.
With smart preparation focused on maximizing your knowledge retention and test-taking abilities, you can feel confident tackling the Step 2 CK. Be sure to allocate sufficient study time based on your schedule and learning needs.
USMLE Step 2 CK Study Plan
The study schedule for Step Two CK will vary a lot depending on how long after the clerkships you wait before taking it as well as whether you’re studying during your 4th year of med school or during your vacation. Overall, in most cases it’s more advisable to sit for the exam as soon as possible after your 3rd year core clerkships.
The study time most students take for preparing for the step 2 CK ranges between 1 to 4 weeks, the average time spent being between 2 and 3 weeks. If you take the test during vacation time you’re more likely to spend need a couple of weeks less for studying than when taking the test during 4th year rotation.
The general consensus is that step 2 CK is a lot less demanding than the step 1 examination. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you won’t need to prepare for it.
We suggest using the same strategy as you did during step 1 prep if you were happy with the result. If not, make sure to segment the study material and assign time for each segment. You’ll also want to commit to answering as many test questions as possible to get comfortable with the format.
Allocate your time so that you’ll go over all the subject matters at least once and make sure to have a bit of extra time to pay attention to your weak points before the exam.
Use a prep course, this can make all of the difference in studying effectively for the exam. We have reviewed some of the best Step 2 CK prep courses so you don’t have to, check out our Step 2 CK Comparison Chart.
USMLE Step 2 Secrets
The questions in step 2 CK tend to be quite long so it is a good idea to prepare for it by practicing reading long question stems quickly. Make sure you include difficult practice questions in your preparation so you won’t be taken aback by the more demanding parts of the exam.
Set a goal. This is important as it gives you a reference point and a clear idea of where you’re headed with your preparation. After you’ve set a goal, choose your resources.
A question bank is a must for most people. Make sure the questions come with clear and detailed explanations for the right answers! This will teach you a lot. Make sure you understand where and why you went wrong. The answers you get wrong are a lot more valuable to you than the right ones. Many of the prep courses we have reviewed include large question banks.
Take care of your head. Don’t over do it and reduce your chances for a good score by stressing out too much. Take breaks. Take care of your mental health. You’re going to CRUSH this exam!
USMLE Step 2 Score
Just like in Step 1, in the step 2 CK exam the scoring is reported in a 3-digit scaled score.
The minimum passing score for the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge is 203. National average is somewhere between 220 and 230. If you’ll be applying for some of the more competitive residency programs you’ll probably want to score somewhere around 240.
The score you receive from this exam will be taken into consideration, among several other factors, in the residency application process. Most likely you will score quite similarly on this exam as you did in step 1; However, if you under performed during step 1 this is the perfect chance to shine and show that you can do better.
USMLE Step 2 CK Registration
You must register for this exam through the NBME website. Make sure you start the process about six months prior to your preferred test date.
Only after this, you’ll get to choose your eligibility period and book the exam for your preferred date and location. Make sure to start the process early. Testing opportunities can fill up surprisingly fast.
USMLE Step 2 CK Cost
The registration cost for the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) exam in 2023 is:
- $645 for medical students attending US/Canadian medical schools
- $1,295 for international medical graduates or students attending medical schools outside the US/Canada
- $1,590 for repeat test takers (those taking Step 2 CK for the 2nd or 3rd attempt)
The registration fees are set by the organizations that sponsor the USMLE – the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).
The $645 rate for US/Canadian students is the standard pricing. The higher rates for international graduates and repeat test takers are due to additional administrative and exam delivery costs.
Registration fees can be paid online through the NBME website when scheduling your testing appointment. They must be paid before you can officially book your test date and location.
Additional expenses beyond the Step 2 CK registration cost may include prep materials, practice tests, travel/lodging if testing at an out-of-town center, and any licensing fees required by your medical licensing board. Factor these costs in when budgeting and planning for the CK exam.