Average USMLE Step 2 Scores: What is Good?

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The USMLE Step 2 will be the second of your three stages. Here, we will look at what you should know going into the USMLE Step 2. That includes information about the test itself as well as information about the average Step 2 scores that you’re looking for.

We’ll talk about the USMLE Step 2 score you need to pass, the highest score possible, and the score you’ll likely want to achieve. We’ll also look at what to do if you fail Step 2. The most important thing is knowing what to expect and starting from there.

When to Take USMLE Step 2?When to Take USMLE Step 2?

The USMLE Step 2, or Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK), is crucial to the United States Medical Licensing Examination. However, to understand what you’re in for, it is vital to dive into the details of when to take the exam and how long it takes to finish it.

According to Thomas Jefferson University, USMLE Step 2 is typically taken after the third year of medical school, often in the first few months of the fourth year. It is usually taken immediately following the completion of clinical rotations.

This timing is recommended because the exam’s content closely relates to the knowledge and skills acquired during these rotations. It is advisable to take Step 2 CK shortly after completing these rotations while the material is still fresh in your mind. However, the exam time depends on individual circumstances and preparation needs.

Most students complete the USMLE Step 2 during their fourth year of medical school. To take the USMLE Step 2, students must be enrolled in or graduates of a US institution granting an AOA-accredited DO degree or enrolled in a US or Canadian institution granting an LCME-accredited MD degree. They must also have taken and passed the USMLE Step 1.

How Long is USMLE Step 2?

How Long is USMLE Step 2?

So, how long is USMLE Step 2? The USMLE Step 2 CK (Clinical Knowledge) exam is full-day. It is structured into eight 60-minute blocks, each containing up to 40 questions. This makes the total exam time approximately nine hours, including break time. Candidates are also allotted an hour of break time, which they can use between the blocks according to their preference.

In terms of content, the Step 2 CK exam focuses on the clinical sciences and basic patient-centered skills that are essential in providing adequate health care. It assesses a medical student’s ability to apply medical knowledge and understanding of clinical science necessary for patient care under supervision and includes emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention.

It is essential to understand the content that the exam covers. It includes various areas of medicine and is organized into different sections. These include:

  • Internal medicine: This constitutes the largest portion of the exam. It covers areas like cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, hematology, infectious diseases, and oncology.
  • Surgery: Topics include general surgery principles and specific surgical conditions.
  • Pediatrics: This covers general pediatric conditions, developmental stages, and pediatric diseases.
  • Obstetrics and gynecology: This section deals with women’s health, pregnancy, childbirth, and reproductive system disorders.
  • Psychiatry: It includes mental health disorders, psychosocial issues, and substance abuse.
  • Preventive medicine, ethics, and biostatics: This part of the exam tests knowledge in health maintenance, ethics, legal issues, and the interpretation of biostatistical data.

When are USMLE Step 2 Scores Released?

When are USMLE Step 2 Scores Released?

If you’ve already taken Step 2 or are curious about how long it will take to get the USMLE scores after you take the test, let’s take a look. Actually, Step 2 CK score release is within 3 to 4 weeks after the test date.

The clinical knowledge portion of the exam is the multiple-choice portion that will be similar to the Step 1 exam. It’s also completed entirely on a computer, making evaluating and scoring easier. The USMLE Step 2 results will generally be emailed to you or available through the platform.

These scores are released over seven years, based on when you take the exam. In general, this is 1-2 months after taking the test. Results will generally be emailed to you or available through the platform for this portion of the exam.

What is a Passing USMLE Step 2 Score?

What is a Passing USMLE Step 2 Score?

The USMLE Step 2 passing score was increased from 209 to 214 on July 1, 2022. As of January 2023, this new minimum passing score of 215 is in effect.

The USMLE Step 2 CK scores are reported on a 3-digit scale that ranges from 1 to 300. This change reflects the ongoing adjustments in the USMLE scoring system to maintain a consistent standard for medical licensing.

This passing score is a baseline requirement for medical licensure in the United States. The USMLE Step 2 assesses a test taker’s ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and understanding of clinical sciences essential for patient care under supervision.

The exam’s content focuses heavily on patient care, including diagnostic steps, diagnosis, management, pharmacotherapy, and prevention. It tests the application of knowledge expected to be acquired during clinical rotations.

However, getting a score above passing is one of many things to consider. You’ll also want to take a closer look at the scores other people are getting in the field you would like to go into.

If you are looking to match with a residency in dermatology, for example, you would need a different score than if you are looking to fit in family medicine. Look at the chart below to see the average scores students achieve to match with other specialties.

You want to be able to get into a residency program that you are going to enjoy, and that means aiming to get at least the average score that others have brought to match. To match in orthopedic surgery, you should aim to get at least a 251 on your USMLE Step 2.

To match in psychiatry, you should get at least a 233 on Step 2. Aiming higher, however, is always going to be better. Hence, the average USMLE Step 2 score varies by specialty.

What is the Highest Possible Step 2 Score?

What is the Highest Possible Step 2 Score?

The highest Step 2 score is 300, just like with the USMLE Step 1. However, this hasn’t happened yet. Students have achieved scores of over 280 on this test and the Step 1 test; however, that perfect score is still an elusive result.

It’s also important to note that the test changes slightly yearly. Different questions are added or removed, each weighted differently from one test to the next.

It’s a good idea to aim for the highest possible score because that will open many more doors for you regarding your residency. But don’t be discouraged to fall a little short of your ideal. If you push yourself and score well, you will be in a good place for your applications.

If you get a score of 255, you’re over the average for any residency program. Getting a score between 240 and 260 will give you an excellent opportunity to apply to just about any program and have a comfortable shot at making a match.

What is a Good Score for Step 2?

What is a Good Score for Step 2?

So, what is a good Step 2 score? A good score for the USMLE Step 2 is at least 245. This would be a relatively average step 2 CK score. This will get you in the middle of the average scores for most specialties. You’ll be able to meet or beat most of the averages, and you should have a good chance of getting into the specialty you want. If you get a score between 240 and 250, you should be able to apply for any specialty and have a reasonable chance at it.

Keep in mind that the numbers in the chart below are averages. That means some people can get a match in that specialty with a lower score. Some required a higher score to get in. The key is your USMLE Step 2 score and the rest of your application. If you have a robust application, even without a stellar Step 2 score, you may still be able to make the match you really want.

What Are the Average Step 2 Scores for Different Specialties?

What Are the Average Step 2 Scores for Different Specialties?

If you have a particular specialty in mind, you’ll want to take a closer look at this chart to see just what it’s going to take to get into the field you want. Remember that each of these is only the average Step 2 score. While it’s a good idea to hit it, if possible, a strong application and strong capabilities in other areas could make up for a slightly lower score.

Here are the average Step 2 score by specialty according to 2022 statistics from AMBOSS:

Anesthesiology 247
Child Neurology 243
Dermatology 257
Diagnostic Radiology 252
Emergency Medicine 244
Family Medicine 238
General Surgery 248
Internal Medicine 245
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics 251
Interventional Radiology 254
Neurological Surgery 253
Neurology 242
Obstetrics and Gynecology 246
Orthopedic Surgery 253
Otolaryngology 253
Pathology 242
Pediatrics 242
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 240
Plastic Surgery 257
Psychiatry 239
Radiation Oncology 249
Vascular Surgery 246

What to Do if You Fail Step 2?

What to Do if You Fail Step 2?

It might be challenging to interpret the failing rates of the exam as it often involves the failing grades of the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) exam, which used to be the second part of the USMLE Step 2 exam. However, it was suspended in May 2020.

The cancellation followed a period of reassessment regarding the exam’s purpose and value, particularly in light of its high pass rates among certain groups of students and the logistical and financial burdens it imposed, including the need for travel to exam centers.

Now, let’s get to the topic we are here for. It is essential to understand that you are not alone if you failed step 2, which happens sometimes. Hence, below is a deeper analysis of the failing rates from 2022 to provide a better understanding of these statistics:

  • First-time takers from US/Canadian MD schools: 1%
  • Repeaters from US/Canadian MD schools: 29%
  • First-time takers from non-US/Canadian schools: 11%
  • Repeaters from non-US/Canadian schools: 43%

However, failing Step 2 CK can impact residency applications. Since Step 1 became a pass/fail exam, Step 2 scores have gained more significance in residency applications. Residency programs often require a passing Step 2 CK score for ranking applicants.

However, the impact of a failure varies by specialty, with some programs being more forgiving than others. For example, competitive specialties like plastic surgery and dermatology generally expect higher Step 2 scores, whereas fields like family medicine and psychiatry might be more lenient.

So, what happens and what can you do upon failing, if it happens? Here are the steps to take after failing USMLE Step 2 exam:

  • Examine your score report: Start by analyzing your score report to identify your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you understand where you need to focus your efforts for the retake. If you were weak in one or two areas, concentrate on those. If the failure was more comprehensive, a broader review might be necessary.
  • Assess your test-taking skills: Evaluate whether you had issues with timing, understanding questions, or selecting the appropriate next steps in management. If timing was an issue, practice with timed questions to improve efficiency. For issues with specific types of questions, consider discussing them with a friend or seeking a tutor’s help.
  • Consider your residency prospects: Understand that every residency program will require a passing Step 2 CK score for ranking. Some might need you to have passed Step 2 CK before offering an interview. Reach out to faculty advisors for advice on handling your score in residency applications.
  • Dedicated study time: If possible, arrange for a dedicated study period. This might mean adjusting your medical school schedule or taking time off from clinical rotations to focus solely on Step 2 CK preparation. Remember, there is no shame in wanting some extra prep time.
  • Relax and regroup: Take some time to regroup emotionally and mentally. It is crucial to approach your studies with a clear mind. Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Many people fail the USMLE Step 2 exam on their first try.
  • Develop a comprehensive study plan: Create a detailed and effective study schedule. Make use of practice tests like UWolrd, Amboss, and OnlineMedEd to familiarize yourself with the exam format and question types. NBME Self-Assessments can also be very helpful in getting a baseline for your performance. Reflect on your study methods and optimize you’re approach based on past experiences.
  • Care for yourself: It is important to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical well-being while preparing for a retake. Ensure you’re eating well, getting enough rest, and taking breaks in between to breathe.
  • Utilize resources and support: Don’t hesitate to seek help if needed. Tutors and academic advisors can offer valuable guidance and support in times of need. Engaging with a study partner for discussions can also be beneficial in clarifying concepts.

Finally, remember that this failure does not define your career as a physician. Many successful doctors have faced and overcome similar challenges. Hence, stay focused, work intelligently, and keep your eyes on your final goals. You have the potential and capability to succeed, but this required you to believe in yourself and follow the tips above to excel.

When Should You Take a USMLE Step 2 Prep Course, if at All?

When Should You Take a USMLE Step 2 Prep Course, if at All?

Are you ready to start studying for the USMLE Step 2 but unsure about a prep course? You’re not alone because not everyone feels like they’re a great idea. You should know that these courses are designed to help you understand what to study and how to do it. You want to take a prep course to aid in your study process.

When you should take the course is another question entirely, right? You should start the course as early as you can. You’ll generally take USMLE Step 1 after your second year of medical school. That means you’ll want to start studying for Step 2 as soon as you can after this. You want to ensure you have as much time to prepare as possible. With a prep course, you’ll generally pay for access based on the time you want to use the program.

Starting early with your prep course means you’ll pay a little more because you’ll have more months of studying. However, this can help you get a better result because you have more time to review the material.

You can also choose to use more than one prep course, beginning one as soon as you pass the USMLE Step 1 and then taking another once you’ve finished that course, usually somewhere in the middle of year three or the beginning of year 4. You can look at how each course works and decide which is the best for you. Then, you can return to one or the other if they work for you.

Wrapping Things Up: Average USMLE Step 2 Score Takeaways to Remember

In conclusion, success in the USMLE Step 2 is crucial for medical licensing and residency applications. The exam, known for its comprehensive nature and focus on clinical knowledge, requires thorough preparation. Aiming for a score above the passing threshold of 214, and ideally above the 50th USMLE step 2 percentile, is advisable, especially for those targeting competitive specialties.

If you face a setback in Step 2, it is important to analyze your performance, identify areas of improvement, and strategically plan your retake. Remember, a robust approach to preparation and understanding the nuances of the exam can significantly enhance your chances of success.

Did you like this post? Then you may also like our post on what the average USMLE Step 1 score is here.

Make sure to also check out our medical school study tips.

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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