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Step 2 CK and CS Tips from Upperclassmen

Mari Hopper, PhD

Hopper with working with students on the Evansville campus

Check out these tips from IU School of Medicine upperclassmen and recent alumni.

June 2019 Tips

 

Step 2 CK tip

  • “I felt like I’d been studying for step 2 my entire third year by taking every clerkship exam seriously and doing the USMLE Q bank questions during each respective clerkship. By the time I got to a month and a half before the exam I was just reviewing problem areas rather than relearning information. I also don’t think it’s necessary to waste a vacation on studying. I just took a lighter elective in July of my fourth year so I would have the weekends off. My number one piece of advice would be to take it early in your fourth year. You will never know more than you do right now.

Step 2 CS Tip

  • “Active listening: The standardized patients will only know that you listened to them if you paraphrase what you told them. I paraphrased each time before the end of the encounter. Likewise, it is important to ask if the patient has any more questions—I did this at the end of each encounter. 5 minutes at a minimum need to be budgeted for counseling/closure/questions.”

May 2019 Tips

Step 2 CK tips

  • “Studying hard during clerkships for the clerkship exam is actually pretty good prep for step 2. The more studying you do during the clerkships, the less dedicated studying for step 2 you will have to do. It’s always better for board studying to be review rather than learning new material.”
  • Want more advice on preparing for Step 2 CK? Check out the Step 2 Survey results on Canvas.

Step 2 CS tips

  • “Create a history-taking flow chart for each common presentation (dysuria, chest pain, etc.) with the most relevant questions; pertinent questions can be found in a number of history taking books such as Symptom to Diagnosis or First Aid for the CS.”
  • Want more advice on preparing for Step 2 CS? Check out the Step 2 CS Advice page on Canvas.

April 2019 Tips

Step 2 CK tips

  • “Based on how much time you have to study, design a study strategy early on and stick to it, including your time away from studying.  For example, if you have a month to study, plan on doing about 100 questions with thorough review daily with a few practice tests throughout. With the short amount of time most of us have to study compared to the breadth of knowledge we need to know, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but making a study plan and sticking to it eases some of the worrying.”
  • “When completing Qbank questions, mix all of the questions on timed mode. Although it is daunting at first, it helps you transition between OBGYN and medicine quickly, just like the real test. You will constantly be reviewing material throughout your study period, so you won’t feel like you learned cardiology at the beginning, and now can’t remember which murmurs get louder with specific maneuvers.”

Step 2 CS tips

March 2019 Tips

Step 2 CK tip 

  • “Take snacks. Take two blocks, 12 minute break, two blocks, break, two blocks, break, two blocks, etc. do not ‘power through.’ Do the bank questions. Write notes on questions that are wrong then teach the concept to someone or your dog :)

Step 2 CS tip

January 2019 Tips

Step 2 CK tip

  • “My biggest advice for preparing for the exam is to do USMLE qbank and carefully read over the answers. I also did three NBME practices tests and 1 USMLE, along with the practice test the school gave. I read Master the Boards but on a much more casual study basis.”

Step 2 CS tip

A student who failed CS the first time and passed the second time compared their approach to open-ended questions for both exams.

  • “I recommend using open-ended questions.”
  • Round 1 (failed the exam)
    • “I greeted the patient and ask how their headache was. They said it hurts all of the time, and I jump straight to OPQQRST having to pull every detail out individually. This happened every encounter, felt like I was pulling teeth to get a complete history.”
  • Round 2 (passed the exam)
    • “I ask the headache was, got the same response about it hurting. However, this time I followed up with “can you tell me more about that.” This phrase began to seem like a secret code word. Every patient would then open up and give a detailed description of their complaint. To maximize CIS scoring, maintain eye contact and don’t interrupt patients. Always use basic language, no medical jargon just because they’re a standardized patient.”

View Step 2 CS scheduling availability.

December 2018 Tips

Step 2 CK tip

  • “USMLE Qbank is clutch. Read every answer right or wrong. Study for each clerkship during third year and review everything from clerkships for step 2. Try to do some sort of systematic review before the test with some book to frame your memory.” -Upperclassman student

Step 2 CS tips

  • “Coming up with a good set of pertinent differentials; the key is to support each one with as many pertinent findings; pertinent negatives are overlooked and can play a big role–such as being afebrile and so can acuity and chronicity-these can be applied almost to any case.” -Upperclassman student

November 2018 Tips

Step 2 CK tip

  • “Complete as many practice questions on UWorld Qbank as possible. This is the single most helpful tool I found when studying. I completed the question bank once during third year by completing the questions relevant to that clerkship, and then reset the Qbank and went through it a second time prior to taking Step 2 CK.” -Upperclassman student

Step 2 CS tips

October 2018 Tips

Step 2 CK Tip

  • I think more so than Step 1, Step 2 CK is an exam where its really advantageous to learn your weak areas early and focus on these. I used a lot of review books but didn’t really read through them all–I would take useful tables/figures or questions about things I have never been great at (like pretty much all of OB/GYN, for example) and put them in my “topics I need to know better” notes.  Otherwise, like Step 1, the questions from UWorld will probably be the most useful to you so rely on those and supplement your weaker topics with review books.

Step 2 CS Tips

  • Practice active listening skills the standardized patients will only know that you listened to them if you paraphrase what you told them-I paraphrased each time before the end of the encounter. You can practice these skills during third year.
  • Schedule your exam as soon as possible! Spots fill up fast! As of August 22, 2018, there was no availability until January 2019, and only 68 percent of spots were still available in January!

September 2018 Tips

Step 2 CK Tips

  1. I felt like I’d been studying for Step 2 my entire third year by taking every clerkship exam seriously and doing the USMLE Q bank questions during each respective clerkship. By the time I got to a month and a half before the exam I was just reviewing problem areas rather than relearning information. I also don’t think it’s necessary to waste a vacation on studying. I just took a lighter elective in July of my fourth year so I would have the weekends off. My number one piece of advice would be to take it early in your fourth year. You will never know more than you do right now.
  2. Studying hard during clerkships for the clerkship exam is actually pretty good prep for Step 2. The more studying you do during the clerkships, the less dedicated studying for Step 2 you will have to do. It’s always better for board studying to be review rather than learning new material.
  3. Medicine clerkship is the most important clerkship in regards to doing well on Step 2 and studying and doing well on the shelf is what helped me the most with doing well on Step 2.

Step 2 CS Tips

Coming up with a good set of pertinent differentials; the key is to support each one with as many pertinent findings; pertinent negatives are overlooked and can play a big role–such as being afebrile and so can acuity and chronicity-these can be applied almost to any case.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Author

IU School of Medicine

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