to studying for usmle step 2 ck

Step 2 CK, I liked you so much better than Step 1.

Our test was originally scheduled for April 1. After having to reschedule our test multiple times due to coronavirus, we finally were able to take our exam in Colorado in June. That meant changing and recreating our study routine multiple times to keep all the info fresh, but not get burnt out. We had taken February and March off as dedicated study time. Since the virus cancelled all in person rotations until July, we decided to take most of the time off to study and focus on volunteering instead of doing online clinical rotations. We did try doing two 2-week online rotations but decided to wait until in-person clinical rotations resumed. I do think two months of dedicated study time is more than enough to prepare for the Step 2 CK, I was happy in the end with our level of preparation given the extra time.

Our last test of medical school is complete and our results…

We passed! I was able to improve by 23 points compared to my USMLE Step 1 and Denzel was able to improve his by 15. We are so happy to complete this final medical school exam and feel more ready to apply for residency with this exam under our belt.

How we Studied for USMLE Step 2 CK

The most effective way to prepare for this exam is to study throughout rotations for shelf exams and to be involved during rotations. It is easier to remember presentations, next best steps, and treatment options when you have seen them with actual patients.

Having a strong foundation made studying for this exam much easier. I remembered most of the material, so I only had to strengthen my knowledge instead of build from the ground up, which I felt like I had to do a lot of for the USMLE Step 1 and its preliminary exam.

  • Check out my blog posts on how we studied for our core rotation shelf exams throughout third year:
  1. Re-watched all Online Med Ed videos and took notes on them
  2. UWorld questions on random and timed and added notes on them to the Online Med Ed notes
  3. Just as I did with the Step 1 exam, every time I noticed I was getting things wrong repeatedly, I would write them on a sticky note and stick them to the wall in front of me. After a while, I stopped getting these questions wrong.
  4. Practice exam 1x per week (NBME vs UWorld Self-Assessment)
  5. Emma Holliday videos
  6. Denzel used Master the Boards for whatever subjects he wanted to review more
  7. Sketchy path, pharm and micro for any subjects we needed to brush up on
  8. OME Biostats and UWorld Biostats review 2 days before the exam (keeps the information fresh)

This is the simple study plan we followed for the comp. Most importantly, we had a set study schedule just as we did for Step 1. This helped us stay on track for our quickly approaching test day. Every time we had a change in test day, the first thing we would do was recreate our study schedule so we could keep on track. Interested in purchasing a copy of our study schedule? CLICK HERE.

Test Day

The USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge exam is a 9-hour exam with 8 blocks of 38-40 questions and 1 hour of break time to utilize throughout the day. If you skip the 15-minute tutorial, this gets added to your break time as well as any extra time from the previous blocks.

The way I spaced out my breaks:

Block 1


Block 2

Block 3


Block 4


Block 5


Block 6

Block 7


Block 8

Denzel took a break every two blocks.

We were required to wear a face mask at all times. We wore ones that you can untie at the bottom for easier breathing, which worked out well. I didn’t notice it after the first block.

I felt confident and energized for first 4 blocks of the test, after lunch I started to get tired and the questions seemed harder for block 5. For blocks 6-8 I felt like I was on autopilot and I had to keep forcing myself to refocus. However, the questions were almost all fair. I felt like the questions were easier than any of the practice exams we took. They were most similar to actual UWorld questions, not the self-assessments.

It is so exciting to finally be finished with all of our exams in medical school, now all that is left is to complete our clinical rotations and apply for residency.

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