USMLE World = My Only Step 2 CK USMLE Prep
Given my experience from USMLE Step 1, I again turned to USMLE world for my USMLE prep for Step 2 CK. Now, understand that my goal for this particular USMLE test was mainly to pass, not to get in the 95th plus percentile like my goal was for USMLE Step 1.
For this reason, I used only the USMLE world question bank that I purchased for one month of study. I'll add a few of the resources that some of my classmates used so that if you need to score well on this test, you'll know some good additional sources to turn to.
One of the big USMLE Step 2 secrets for USMLE Step 2 CK is the score on this test is not nearly as important as your score on Step 1.
At different times, our advisors have told us:
"You can drop 15 points or more from your Step 1 score and programs won't really notice or care."
"Schools will not be waiting for the results of this test. If you fail it, that would cause a problem, but other than that don't put too much stress on it."
This really is a relief because your USMLE review and USMLE prep can be much less extreme than for USMLE Step 1. One of the sayings in medical school is:
"You spend two months studying for Step 1, 2 weeks studying for Step 2, and a #2 pencil for step 3," meaning that you don't even need to study at all for Step 3. I wouldn't personally advise that, but keep in mind the relative importance of the test when studying. That's one of the best USMLE step 2 secrets.
That being said, if your Step 1 score was not as good as you would have liked, try to make up for it on Step 2.
Also keep in mind, I am going into psychiatry, where these scores are not particularly important. Other specialties may look at Step 2 as something more important. Check with your advisors about the importance of Step 2 for you.
What is Step 2 About?
Unlike USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CS and USMLE Step 2 CK are much more clinically based. This goes along with the medical school curriculum, which is more book-based your first two years and much more clinically based your third and fourth year.
In some ways, your best USMLE prep for this particular test is going to medical school your third year. Here is a sample question from the USMLE official website:
A 32-year-old woman with type 1 diabetes mellitus has had progressive renal failure over the past 2 years. She is not yet on dialysis. Examination shows no abnormalities. Her hemoglobin concentration is 9 g/dL, hematocrit is 28%, and mean corpuscular volume is 94 m3. A blood smear shows normochromic, normocytic cells. Which of the following is the most likely cause?
- Acute blood loss
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
- Erythrocyte enzyme deficiency
- Erythropoietin deficiency
- Microangiopathic hemolysis
- Polycythemia vera
- Sickle cell disease
- Sideroblastic anemia
- ß-Thalassemia trait
Now, if you haven't been to medical school yet, this question probably seems really hard. But, if you have been to medical school, you understand that erythropoietin is generated in your kidneys. If you have renal failure, then your kidneys aren't doing what they're supposed to, including making erythropoietin (the substance that tells your body to make red blood cells). The other clues here that tell you that the patient doesn't have a problem making red blood cells is that the cells are normochromic and normocytic (in other words, normal). But, you'll learn all of this through medical school. Your USMLE review and USMLE prep really starts when you start medical school and continues through your third and fourth year.
You will also get solid USMLE prep from your shelf exams, which you will take at the end of each rotation during your third year. In fact, you could think of USMLE Step 2 CK as a combination of all your shelf exams. Shelf exams have clinically based questions about specific areas (internal medicine, pediatrics, etc.) You can find the books I recommend for those tests. Mainly I recommend the Case Files series and the PreTest series for each specific rotation. You'll find high quality teaching and questions that will be great USMLE prep for the USMLE exam.
There are a few different types of questions on this USMLE exam that USMLE world helps prepare you for:
Reading advertisements. This is probably something you haven't done before on a test. There will be fake advertisements on this USMLE exam and then questions about the advertisement. Something like "what was the lowest risk of using this drug compared to placebo" or "were the authors justified to make this statement?" USMLE world will help you get used to this type of question. This is one of the USMLE step 2 secrets.
Listening to heart sounds. You probably saw this on Step 1 as well, but at times you will be asked to listen to heart sounds in order for you to answer a question (is this mitral stenosis or aortic stenosis?). So, Blaufuss might be a good resource for you to review heart sounds.
When should I take USMLE Step 2 CK?
I took the test on December 27th, which was very late. I would recommend taking the test soon after you finish your third year of medical school. Maybe in August or September of that year. You will still be fresh from all of your shelf exam prep, making your USMLE prep that much easier. Also, depending on your specialty and school, they may want to see your Step 2 score before they start interviewing you. For psychiatry and for UCLA, it was not important to have the Step 2 score before interviews.
How is the test set up?
There are 8 blocks of 42-44 questions. You have one hour for each block. You also have one hour of break time that you can split up as you wish. I took breaks after every 2 question sets, with a longer break after the 4th to eat some lunch.
This is another long USMLE exam and your USMLE prep might include a few long stretches of questions to get used to sitting and answering questions for so long. However, after Step 1 , you'll be used to this sort of thing.
As you can tell from my Step 1 page and from here, I highly, highly recommend USMLE world. When I came to USMLE Step 2, I felt that my USMLE prep had really paid off. I felt as if I was taking just another practice test from USMLE world. Here are some reasons why I like USMLE World for Step 1 and Step 2.
The same USMLE exam program. USMLE World gives you the opportunity to take tests on the exact same program that you will use on the actual USMLE exam. This was comforting to me since I knew how to mark questions for review, how to look up lab values and do the other tasks that might have been foreign to me had I not used USMLE world.
Questions very similar to questions on the USMLE exam. The thing that impressed me most about USMLE world was how similar the questions on the USMLE review were to those on the actual USMLE exam. When I came to the USMLE exam, I really felt as though I was just taking another set of questions from USMLE world. In this way, I felt that it was the best USMLE prep that I did.
Great explanations for question answers. What you should look for in any USMLE prep program are good explanations for the question answers. USMLE world gives detailed explanations of why the right answer is right and why the wrong answers are wrong. This is invaluable during your USMLE prep. You can learn five or six important concepts that will be tested on the USMLE exam from one question and its explanation through USMLE world. This makes USMLE world an incredibly efficient study tool for your USMLE prep.
Practice tests and timed tests. One of the big things you need to remember about USMLE Step 2 is that it is timed. You won't have all day to think about the answers to your questions. This means that you need to practice taking the test timed. USMLE World gives you several options to do this. This is something you must do as part of your usmle prep.
What I bought from USMLE World. I purchased a 1 month subscription to the USMLE World QBank for my USMLE prep. Again, I was not shooting for the stars on this test and so if you're trying to score higher, I would recommend either a longer subscription or at least making sure you get through all the questions in your month. I only got through about 40% of mine.
My study strategy with USMLE World. As I said before, USMLE world was my only study material for USMLE Step 2 CK.
First Aid USMLE
First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 CK is a book that some of my classmates used to prepare. First Aid USMLE is always a go-to for any of the tests. They have a great reputation and this book would be a good source for your USMLE prep.
Step Up to Medicine/ Step Up to Step 2 CK
These books were again recommended by my classmates as good sources for USMLE prep. Step Up to Medicine is a great resource for your Internal Medicine rotation during your third year , as well as a good resource for Step 2 CK. It's clinically oriented, which is what you need for the test. Diagnosis and treatment!
USMLE Step 2 CK is another step on your way to becoming a doctor. The stakes are quite a bit lower on this USMLE exam, but you still need to pass it and for some specialties you will need to perform well on the exam. Stick to USMLE world, these resources, and the books on my book page and you'll do great. Good luck!
Return from Step 2 CK to USMLE Prep
Return from USMLE World and USMLE Step 2 CK to Medical School Insider