What is the USMLE® Step 2 CS?

The United States Medical Licensing Examination is not just another test – it’s much more.

Unlike other knowledge-based exams, the USMLE thoroughly assesses how well you can apply your skills, values, and attitudes to real life, patient-centered scenarios. Not only is it valuable practice for you as a future physician; it shows licensing authorities how you will operate on the job, both on and off the table. Now put on those mental scrubs and show them what you’re made of.


The communication skills component of the exam are evaluated through the following areas:

  • Fostering the relationship
  • Gathering information
  • Information provision
  • Making decisions
  • Supporting emotions
  • Enabling patient behaviors

Over the longer term, more advanced functions will be incorporated.

Implementing this model will alter how standardized patients (SPs) are trained as well as broaden the range of behaviors on which examinees will be evaluated. This evaluation process eliminates the history checklist formerly used by SPs to evaluate whether certain examinee behaviors occurred. SPs are now trained on a particular personality profile, thus allowing them to respond in a more natural manner to examinee questions.

The NBME's decision to refine the CS examination was based on the ever-increasing awareness of the importance of communication skills and changes in the nature of the doctor-patient relationship. More patient-centered approaches, more patient involvement in decision-making and the need to support patients in making lifestyle changes are now commonplace and vital physician duties. Because residents are deeply involved in all of these types of activities, the assessment of their communication skills must reflect and be adapted to assess these activities as well. To be assured of taking Step 2 CS in its current format, you should act quickly to enroll in a Kaplan Step 2 CS course and schedule an examination date. Allow 6 weeks of USMLE review for Step 2 CS prep.

Register for the USMLE Step 2 CS


Let our expert teachers be your guide with a prep course that fits your schedule. No matter what stage of USMLE prep you’re in, Kaplan can help raise your score.