3 Best Resources For USMLE STEP 2 Exam Preparation

A student has to go through an arduous journey of education and practical experience to become a doctor. After completing a bachelor in science and clearing the MCAT, when the eligible students join a medical school, their actual drill, and preparation for the all-important USMLE start.

What to expect from Step 2 CK?

The USMLE exam is divided into three steps. Steps 1 and 2 are independent of each other and can be given in any order. However, to be eligible for step 3 a person should clear both steps. As a practice, most individuals take Step 1 by the second year of their med school. This is ideal as Step 1 is based on general concepts of science related to clinical aspects. As per recent changes in the grading pattern, Step 1 results will be announced as a pass or a fail.

USMLE step 2 practice needs to be carried out with more dedication as going forward this is the only exam that will express the result in a numerical format. It is the basis on which the residency program is matched and awarded based on your scholastic performance.

USMLE Step 2 preparation can be started in the third year and should be completed before the fourth year. If it is postponed till the final year of med school, then chances of getting into a good residency program are tough, as the competition for these seats is always high. Some residency program directors even assess your organizational abilities based on such trivia.

3 Best Resources For USMLE STEP 2 Exam Preparation

3 Best Resources For USMLE STEP 2 Exam Preparation

Here are a few resource lists that a medical school student preparing for the licensure exam has to consider when looking at Step 2 CK practices

  1. Comprehensive resources

The field of education is evolving and so are the cognitive abilities of the human mind. Now people give importance to the ability to locate information than retain everything within the realms of the human mind. If a student can map a topic to the resource library, then it is more useful than trying to remember everything that is written about the topic. In this manner, the important points are outlined and highlighted for ready reference.

So it is essential to choose resources that are comprehensive, accessible, and affordable. Resources that outline the single-time questions, sequential items, and abstract-based questions are more purposeful for clearing the exams. It is important as single-item questions often have part of the answer. Nearly twenty-six questions are in this format.

In sequential question format based on previous answers, the next question in the series will be presented. All questions are interconnected to the same topic. Abstract-based questions are context-oriented cases testing the clinical knowledge of the examinee.

  1. Online courses

Several Medtech platforms are offering topic-wise bite-size information for easy assimilation with content rich in explanation through charts, and simulated graphics for easy comprehension. They have features like practice questions, easy-recall quizzes, and highlighted questions to review later.

Some of the platforms proactively let a person know why an answer is wrong, thereby clearing the concepts and rebuilding the right foundation. This helps in not just answering the right question but understanding the logic and reasoning behind it.

In addition, students also experience the main USMLE pattern questions and the similar difficulty level, so that they can assess their preparedness before taking the real exam.

  1. Practice tests

Practice tests conducted by NBME can increase the chances of a student’s performance in the main exam. As the USMLE exam is conceptualized with joint efforts of state medical boards, FSMB, and NBME, the self-assessment practice tests offered by the former most organizations are sought after among exam takers. The Step 2 CK practice tests are designed to feature multiple-choice questions that fare on the same level as the real exam. The practice test can be booked online through their website and costs sixty dollars per test.

Also Read: How to Choose the Right Career Path for You

Step 2 CK format and score

The exam is an all-day exam that lasts for 9 hours with a 45-minute break in between different sections or blocks. The exam is divided into eight sections that last for 60 minutes each. There are a maximum of 40 items per block and a maximum of 318 items for the entire exam.

This exam is very important as the score will determine the residency program eligibility. The matching of the residency program score requirement helps one gain the kind of residency one seeks. Competitive roles like plastic surgeon have matching scores above 256.

The actual score from the people competing for the position is 290.

Often looking at the level of competition, most students fail to concentrate on the essentials of preparation. They end up wasting their resources and energy on things that may be fad and unnecessary.

Instead of buying too many resources and subscription services, it is advisable to have a well-thought-out game plan to win the USMLE exam. Here are a few hacks that can help a student prepare for the exam

  • Be open to different resources like online platforms that use AI-powered tools to impart knowledge in small bite size easy techniques for better retention
  • Organize your time and prioritize reading daily, preparing a few questions periodically.
  • Use practice exams and shelf exams wisely. Give it a sincere attempt as you would do in a normal test. The assessment and recommendations of this test are very useful to help one improve in their weak areas.
  • On the exam day, wear comfortable clothes, and take necessary items like earplugs, tissues, stationary, and an ID card. Prepare to arrive early at the exam center.
  • Learn to take regular breaks between med school, preparation, and clinical rotations. Dedication to a few smart hacks will help students remember important topics. Reading everything is not possible, so skim through some of the topics. Give due stress on the base clinical knowledge and reasoning behind the context-related questions.


Step 2 CK is very important as its single point numerical representation of your prowess amongst the rest of the equally competent enthusiastic doctors ready to take over the world. There is a difference between a good doctor and a great doctor, it lies in critical thinking and the will to save lives. Aim for the former.

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