How to Study for Step 2 CK: The Ultimate Guide

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.

Spread the love


Once you’ve completed your step 1 test, you’re going to be ready to start preparing for the next phase, and that’s where step 2 comes in. But with step 2, you actually have two different sections that you need to prepare for. In this article, we’re going to talk about the CK or clinical knowledge portion of the exam and how you can get the score that you’re looking for.

If you’re looking for more information about how to practice and prepare for the Step 2 CS or clinical skills portion of the exam, take a look at the article we have prepared for just that. You’ll be able to find out more information about what this exam consists of and what you need to do in order to get a good score that will allow you to match well.

Here, we’re going to discuss the supplemental materials and question banks that you need to be looking at to really push yourself for this portion of the exam. We’re also going to look at things like step 2 flashcards and your step 2 study schedule, so you can be sure you’re on the right track towards passing this portion of the test and moving on with your education.

Why is Having a Study Plan for the USMLE Step 2 CK Exam So Important?Why is Having a Study Plan for the USMLE Step 2 CK Exam So Important?

If you’re getting ready to take the USMLE Step 2 CK, you want to make sure that you have a study plan to help you along. A Step 2 study schedule is going to make it easier for you to keep up with what you want to study. It’s going to make sure that you get through all of the material, and it’s also going to make sure that you know where you’re struggling and where to focus more attention.

Having a step 2 study plan will allow you to schedule the amount of time you need for studying, and it’s actually going to let you a little more free time as well. You’re going to be focused and dedicated when it’s time to study, and you’re going to have the ability to relax during the rest of the time.

How to Create an Effective USMLE Step 2 CK Study Schedule

How to Create an Effective USMLE Step 2 CK Study Schedule

Once you know that you need a step 2 study calendar, however, you’re going to need to create it. There are a number of things that you should be doing in order to create the most effective study schedule possible, and make sure you’re studying for step 2 CK in the right ways. So, let’s take a look at what you need to know in order to create the plan that you really need.

1. Balance out your schedule.

You want to make sure you’re studying about the same amount each day between now and the day that you’re going to take your test. That means you should be looking closely at how many days you have available and what you need to study in order to find a good amount to do each day.

2. Spend more time on problem areas.

2. Spend more time on problem areas.

Take the time to figure out where your weak points are. These are the things you want to spend the most time on. Schedule your hardest subjects each day (if you have three subjects, you’re not as good in schedule one of the three each of the days you’re studying). Then, schedule the topics that you’re about average or less than average on for every two to three days. Finally, plan the topics you feel confident in every four to five days.

3. Study close to your clerkship.

You’ll want to take this test as close to your clerkship as you can because this is going to help you with the material that you’re going to be working on. You’ll have a better background in what you need to be doing in order to be successful.

4. Give yourself fun time.

Even though you’re working really hard to get a good score, that doesn’t mean you should ignore having some fun. Schedule in some breaks that are a little longer than 17 minutes (or a lot longer) and take some time to have fun with your family or friends. This is going to help you feel a whole lot better jumping back into studying, and who knows, you may actually perform better too.

How Long Should You Study for Step 2 CK?

How Long Should You Study for Step 2 CK?

How Long Should You Study for Step 2 CK?

If you’re getting ready to study, you’re likely wondering how long you should be giving yourself. Well, you should definitely be studying for at least one month and preferably a few months before you take the step 2 CK. This is going to help you with your step 2 CK score. Taking at least this long is going to give you enough time to work through the materials that we’re going to talk about in a moment but not too long where you get weighed down.

In general, the step 2 CK exam is easier than the step 1 exam, which means you shouldn’t need as much time to study for it and you should be able to get through the study materials that you do choose a lot faster and easier than you will the materials that you had for step 1.

Tips on How to Stick to Your Step 2 CK Study Plan

Tips on How to Stick to Your Step 2 CK Study Plan

Your study plan isn’t going to do you any good if you aren’t able to stick to it. That’s why you want to take a closer look at these tips on how to make sure you’re sticking with your plan and that you’re not getting distracted by anything else that’s going on around you.

1. Create a plan that works for you.

Don’t get distracted by what everyone else is doing and create a plan that someone else says is good. Don’t get caught up in someone telling you they got a 260 on their exam by following X process, and you should do it too. If you know that isn’t a plan that will work for you, then don’t set it as your plan. You won’t stick to it.

2. Schedule in breaks.

Research shows that the ideal amount of time to study is 52 minutes, followed by a 17-minute break. This gives you time to really dive into the material and then relax, take a breath, and process what you’ve read before you start up again.

3. Try different things.

3. Try different things.

Don’t just sit down and do several hours of questions all in a row. Mix things up a little bit and go through some questions and then switch out and watch some videos or read some of the text. By going to different things each time you come back from a break, you’ll give your mind something different to focus on, keeping you from getting too bored with study.

4. Be willing to change it.

Don’t get too rigid about the time schedule and study plan that you have. You need to be prepared to make changes that fit your life. If something has changed and you don’t have as much time to study each day as you thought you did then adjust your schedule to reflect that. If you have some areas that need even more practice than you thought go ahead and change that too. This plan only works if you make it.

Must-Have Supplemental Materials for Your Step 2 CK Test Prep

Must-Have Supplemental Materials for Your Step 2 CK Test Prep

You don’t want to go at your studying with just your textbook and your own memory. Instead, make sure that you’re using the right study materials. For those wondering is UWorld enough for step 2 CK, the answer is not exactly. You’ll want to take a look at some of the other supplemental resources that we have here. In fact, these are some of the best step 2 CK resources out there.

1. UWorld.

This one is likely not a surprise because just about any medical student already knows UWorld by the time they get to studying for the step 2 exam. It’s one of the most popular tools to study with, and it provides you with a good overview of all of the information that you’re going to need in the form of questions. There are other upgraded resources available through UWorld as well, if you’re looking for some additional help.

2. OnlineMedEd.

This is another excellent resource that gives you hundreds of videos. What’s even better is those videos are all free, so you can check out options in just about any topic area and focus on the things that you’re struggling with. For those who are more visual learners, this is going to be a great option, and you can watch the videos while you’re looking over other materials as well.

Step 2 Secrets

3. Step 2 Secrets.

If you want one of the best books for USMLE Step 2, this is the way to go. This book gives you a whole lot of resources and a question and answer format that makes it really easy to understand. You’re going to get a good amount of questions for such a small source, but it’s going to help you understand the formatting for some of the questions as well.

4. Picmonic.

This is another excellent option if you’re a visual learner. It offers some videos and images that are designed to help you remember the content. It might be through funny looking images or through different playlists, but you’ll find that it’s a whole lot easier to memorize some of the critical details when you have a unique way of looking at them. You can save 20% off using this Picnomic link.

5. Anki.

If you need to create flashcards, this is a great way to do it, and you’ll be able to create cards of any type. You can even create some with videos, audio, or even scientific symbols. That way, you don’t have to worry about the topics you’re struggling with. There are also some flashcard banks that you can check out on different subjects if you don’t want to create your own.

How to Use Your Step 2 CK QBanks Effectively

How to Use Your Step 2 CK QBanks Effectively

If you have Qbanks to study with (which you should), then you want to know how to make the most of them. Well, it’s actually not as difficult as you might think to make the most of these. And they’re one of the best resources for Step 2, so you really want to focus on them even more. Use these tips to make them work for you.

1. Note missed questions.

If you miss a question, make a note of it and come back to try those questions again at a later time. With just about any Qbank, you’re going to have the ability to flag questions if you have a problem with them or if you can’t get them right. That way, you can check your flagged questions later for study or to try and answer them again.

2. Use them alongside other materials.

2. Use them alongside other materials.

Don’t assume that a Qbank, or even a couple of Qbanks, is going to be enough. You need other study materials of different types as well. For example, videos and step 2 flashcards are a good idea too. These can help you break up the monotony of just one topic and also help you get a better understanding of the subject rather than just memorizing facts.

3. Read the wrong answers.

If you get a question wrong, read through the information that you’re given about just why that answer is incorrect. If you don’t know why it’s the wrong answer, you run the risk of making the same mistake again. Also, read the reason why the right answer is actually correct. This will help you remember the answers better the next time.

4. Answer the questions first.

One way that you can do quite well with your questions and make the most of them is to run through a series of questions first and find the subjects that you struggle with. Then, go back and study the other materials you have in those areas.

Tips on How to Study for Step 2 CK During Second Year

Tips on How to Study for Step 2 CK During Second Year

Are you looking for some USMLE Step 2 preparation tips? Well, if you are, then you’re going to want to know these tips and tricks about just how you should be studying. You can get a whole lot further if you’re actually studying in the right way and making sure you can follow along with the plan that you set (not to mention setting that plan).

1. Focus on the questions.

Questions are going to be the most critical part of your study process. Rather than focusing on a lot of reading, you want to be reading practice questions and trying to answer them. This is what you’ll be doing in the actual exam, after all.

2. Schedule a vacation.

2. Schedule a vacation.

If you have the ability to study for your step 2 during a vacation or break between clerkships. This is going to give you even more time to review, and you can be dedicated about it rather than trying to cram in more studying between other things.

3. Use your Step 2 CK resources.

We mentioned about the different supplemental resources that you should be using but also make sure you’re creating useful flashcards and that you’re creating your own study guides. You may also want to reach out to your teacher or peers within the class. These are other strong resources that you absolutely want to make sure you’re using as much as you can.

4. Pay close attention in class.

The information you’re learning in your classes and in your clerkships is going to be instrumental in getting a good score, so pay attention. Use this as the foundation for your studying and then go through the supplemental books, videos, and flashcards to help back up and improve the information that you’re learning in the classroom.

Tips on How to Increase Your Step 2 CK Scores Fast

Tips on How to Increase Your Step 2 CK Scores Fast

If you want to know how to increase your step 2 CK score, you want to take a closer look at these tips. These are methods that have been used by other medical students to increase their own scores and make sure that they’re focusing in the right areas. You don’t want to miss out on any points, but you especially want to know the easiest methods to bump your score.

1. Look for volunteer opportunities.

One unique way that you can increase your scores above the average USMLE Step 2 score is to look for opportunities to volunteer with a doctor. Talk to local or small practice doctors about shadowing them in their practice. See if you can be responsible for things like taking patient histories and making recommendations (even just to the doctor). These things will give you firsthand experience with the knowledge you need in this exam.

2. Create your own flashcards.

Create flashcards about the topics that you’re struggling with. Having your own flashcards rather than just using someone else’s will help you to learn more about the material. You want to make sure that you keep these flashcards short and sweet, however. Just put a single sentence description for the answer, not a considerable paragraph you’ll never remember.

3. Plan for at least four weeks of study.

3. Plan for at least four weeks of study.

You really want to get a good score, so make sure that you’re studying for at least a full month and preferably more. That way, you’re going to have enough time to work through some different materials and really focus on the things that are most important.

4. Focus on internal medicine.

Did you notice that internal medicine is the vast majority of the questions that you’re going to be asked? You should have, and you should absolutely spend a lot of time studying this topic. Since it’s what a lot of the test is about, you’re going to be spending your time and energy more wisely if you take a closer look at this over some of the other materials.

5. Practice time management.

If you can manage your time wisely, you’re going to be in much better shape to get the scores that you’re looking for. Keep in mind the average amount of time you have per question (generally about 90 seconds) and learn how to keep your thought process within that 90-second mark. That way, you have time to think about the answer, but you aren’t going to run out of time before you answer every question.

6. Study a lot of Step 2 CK questions.

Studying questions is one of the most important things that you can do. Make sure that you’re spending as much time on these questions as you can and that you’re using them as effectively as you need to. Skip reading some of the sections in the book if you need to in order to answer even more questions.

General USMLE Step 2 CK Tips and Tricks

General USMLE Step 2 CK Tips and Tricks

Let’s dive into a few of the general tips and tricks you should know when you’re looking at how to study for step 2 CK. These are just some of the basics, and they’re going to help you get a jump start on some of your peers. They pertain to how you study, what you study, and a few other areas as well.

1. Use the sandwich method.

With this method, you actually work on the most basic information, and the things you absolutely know will be on the exam first. Then you fill in the middle period with more details and studying questions on topics that are a bit more obscure. Then you go back to the necessary information again at the end.

2. Know the score you need for your Step 2 CK test.

Take a look at some of our other resources to find out what score you’re going to need in order to match with the program that you want most. You should know where you’re aiming before you even get started studying. And then, you know more about what you need to do in order to get to that score.

3. Use your resources.

3. Use your resources.

Take a look at the supplemental resources that we mentioned above and then make sure that you’re using them. You don’t need to have all of them in order to be successful, but you should use at least a couple of them to get yourself a head start and make sure you’re on the right track. Get only resources you’re actually going to use throughout your study time, whether pre-dedicated or dedicated.

4. Get an idea of where you’re starting.

There are practice tests that you can take, including NBME. These are great for getting a baseline of where you’re starting from. Don’t use these as a guarantee of the score you would get (or get discouraged if these scores are low). In general, NBME scores are 20+ points lower than the score students get on the actual exam. You just want a number you can start with and then take another test when you’re done studying to see how you’ve improved.

5. Give yourself plenty of time to get your results back.

When you’re trying to match, you want to make sure your potential residency program can get the results in before they make a decision. That means you need to plan for at least a month between taking the test and getting results that can be sent over to the residency program.

6. Ignore the other questions.

When you’re answering a question that should be the only question that you’re thinking about and when you’ve answered it, you should put it behind you and jump in with the next one. Don’t think about a question once you’ve answered it, or you could find yourself second-guessing your answers.

More Advice from Past Medical School Students on How to Study for Step 2 CK

More Advice from Past Medical School Students on How to Study for Step 2 CK

When it comes to the best way to prepare for step 2 CK, the best people to ask are definitely past medical students who have done it before. They know what they’re doing because they’ve already been where you are. So, let’s take a closer look at what they have to say and what they think you should be doing to get even better than they did.

1. Focus hard on your clerkships and exams.

There are a number of clerkship exams that you’re going to be taking throughout the third year of your medical training. Really pay attention to these, and you’re going to have a much easier time studying for this exam and even taking it without studying as hard.

2. Set your Qbanks to a mix of topics.

When you take a quiz or test through your online Qbanks, you will have the option to mix questions of different topics together. This is going to be the best simulation of what the real test is going to look like and forces you to jump from one topic to the next quickly and easily. It’s a good idea to practice this method of study.

3. Take your breaks. Step 2 CK prep is hard.

3. Take your breaks. Step 2 CK prep is hard.

You get to decide when you’re going to take your breaks, but make sure that you actually take them. Don’t wait until you get completely worn out to take a break and don’t just figure you’re going to push through the whole exam without taking breaks. Those breaks are a good idea, and the best way to do them is to take one after every two blocks. This way, you get plenty of time to rest and reset before you jump back in.

4. Focus a lot of attention on areas you don’t know.

If there are areas that you’re not as strong in make sure that you’re spending a bit more time and energy on those areas. That’s where you have the most room for improvement, and it’s where you could end up tripping yourself up. Take advantage of the opportunity.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Study for USMLE Step 2 CK

If you’re looking for how to study for USMLE Step 2, then you’re in the right place. Hopefully, these tips are going to make it a whole lot easier for you. Now that you know about the sandwich method and looking for opportunities to volunteer in an office, you’re going to be off to the right track. Not to mention, you’ve got an idea of how to use your question banks and just how important it is to take those 17-minute breaks during your study periods.

If you liked this post, you’re in luck! We cover how to study for other USMLE Step exams as well:

> How to Study for Step 1

> How to Study for Step 2 CS

We also give a ton of free medical school study tips on our site that you can check out here.

Picture of Professor Conquer
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.

If you found this helpful, help us out by sharing this post!


Readers of this post also read...