The USMLE Step 2 CK almost seems like an afterthought in the wake of the monolith that was Step 1. No doubt, we all remember studying for weeks on end, memorizing countless minutiae from our pre-clinical years, and that final feeling of relief upon leaving the testing center.
In some ways, the Step 2 CK is an easier exam. The information tested is clinical in nature, covering much of what is learned and practiced on rotation. There is also flexibility with when you can schedule the exam, allowing you to adjust your schedule and study time appropriately.
However, one of Step 2 CK’s greatest challenges is the lack of rigorously defined study course or materials. That’s where Kaplan comes into play. Let’s start by clearing up a few common questions students have regarding the exam:
Should you even take the Step 2 CK?
The debate has gone on without a decisive conclusion. Proponents of taking it early state it can help boost a low Step 1 score or provide reassurance to programs that you are capable of succeeding in residency. Detractors state that a low Step 2 score can reflect poorly, especially if you have a higher Step 1 score in the first place.
Also, you’ll want to schedule your exam sooner rather than later. More programs are wanting a Step 2 score before offering interviews or ranking candidates, so taking it early can help with your interview invite success rate. Taking it too late can introduce the risk of not being able to pass it before the rank list deadline.
Should you study for the Step 2 CK?
At the very least, you need to pass the exam before you graduate medical school. More importantly, some programs require the scores to be in before the rank list deadline in late February. If you are a proponent of taking it early, you’ll want the scores in before the ERAS (residency application deadline) in mid-September. This means the optimal time to take it would be during the summer, following a year of core rotations and ideally finishing with an internal medicine month.
Many students study during a lighter rotation, but some may take a few weeks of vacation to do dedicated studying. No matter what, make sure to leave adequate time in case you need a retake. Nothing is worse than having matched but being unable to graduate due to Step 2 CK.
How should you study for the Step 2 CK?
Just like Step 1, your basic requirements are a good reference text. Plus, a solid question bank and practice exams will help you gauge your level of readiness. Kaplan’s Step 2 CK prep course can provide all of these things. The content knowledge materials are thorough and complete in their explanations. A flexible and adaptable Step 2 CK question bank is provided to help test your knowledge, whether broad or specific, and give additional learning opportunities in the answer explanations.
Kaplan also provides a variety of simulated exams, meant to introduce and familiarize students to USMLE-style questions and give a window into your predicted test performance. With these resources under your belt and Kaplan’s high quality video lectures, you can get the score you desire on Step 2 CK and increase the chances of matching into the specialty of your dreams.