USMLE Step 2 CK is usually the next part of the USMLE that is attempted. It is generally taken after 4th year or during final year by students at UCC. It is very helpful to finish 4th year because a lot of the material on the exam is actually covered in the curriculum during the year.
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The preparation for this exam is similar to that for Step 1. Use the question banks available:
The five main subjects covered are:
Do questions to see where your weaknesses are and focus on them for preparation. A preparation guide was contributed and is available below.
370 multiple choice questions
46 questions per block
1 hour per block
Overall = 9 hours
Note: there is one more block on Step 2 CK than on Step 1.
Preparing for the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge
With Step 1 under your belt, tackling Step 2 should be much less daunting as you already know what to expect with regard to the testing conditions and the style of questions. In this guide, I’ve put together my experience with Step 2 CK. I would recommend talking to as many people as you can about their USMLE experiences.
The Step 2 exam consists of 8 blocks of 46 questions. Within each block you can go back and forth between questions, but, once a block has been completed, you cannot revisit those questions. You are given one hour to complete each block. You are given an hour of break time, which you can divide as you please between the blocks. I found it useful to take longer breaks towards the end of the exam. Others I have spoken to prefer to take regular breaks between blocks. The exam tests five main subjects: psychiatry, medicine, surgery, paediatrics, and obs/gynae.
Preparing for the Exam
As with Step 1, it is really important to give yourself enough time to study. The amount of time you need to prepare will vary depending on whether you will be sitting the exam during the school year or during the summer. I sat my exam in late February of fourth year and started studying in mid-November.
Probably the best resource is the on-line USMLEWorld question bank. I would highly recommend purchasing this tool. The questions are very similar in style to those on the exam. You can do blocks of 46 questions, which is helpful for timing. I would recommend doing timed sets of questions since the questions on Step 2 are quite long. This question bank was also my main study source for surgery since surgery is not well covered in the books. If you don’t have a lot of time before the exam, USMLEWorld is probably your best resource. I have spoken to people who were really caught for time when preparing for the exam who used the question bank as their only resource and they did quite well.For Step 2 CK, there is no one book that has consistently been found to be much better than the others.
The books I used were:
1- First Aid for Step 2 CK
2- Step Up to Step 2
3- USMLE Step 2 Secrets
4- Boards and Wards
5- Surgical Recall
I relied heavily on USMLE Step 2 Secrets by Adam Brochert. This is a fantastic handbook. It is written in question/answer format so it forces you to absorb what you are reading. Also, I found the obstetrics chapter to be really good and this was my main source for obstetrics. I would definitely recommend reading this book from cover to cover, probably more than once. Boards and Wards is another little handbook that covers a lot of important information very succinctly. Not only does it cover a lot of core information, but also it has a section of esoteric information for those really weird, out-of-left-field questions. For medicine, paediatrics, and gynaecology, I read some chapters from First Aid for Step 2 and others from Step Up to Step 2. Surgery is a tough subject to study because a lot of these books don’t have a specific surgery chapter and instead include surgery with the various systems. For surgery I read the relevant chapters of Surgical Recall. I didn’t study psychiatry beyond reading the relevant section in the handbooks and doing the Qbank questions.
At the Dublin testing center, you are given a small locker. It can fit a regular size backpack and a few other small items. I found it helpful to bring a bottle of water, a sandwich for lunch, and chocolate to give me an energy boost between blocks. The testing center is on the first floor, so you can easily go outside for some fresh air (the testing center is a bit stuffy). I would recommend that you get your food ahead of time as there are few places to buy food in the locality of the testing center. They will not allow you to bring anything into the test room, including ear plugs.
Most importantly, try not to panic during the exam. The questions are very difficult but you are marked against your peers. Also, a number of the exam questions are actually ‘test’ questions that are not counted as part of your score.
Almost everyone I have spoken to was quite happy with his or her score.