This is the second article in a series by Dr. Abdulmunaim Eid on his USMLE journey. He appeared for the Step 2 CK and 2 CS exam before the Step 1, so his Step 2 CK experience is the first article (Part 1) and 2 CS experience is the second article in this series. Below you can find the links to individual articles –
- Part 1 – USMLE Step 2 CK Exam Experience.
- Part 2 – USMLE Step 2 CS Exam Experience.
- Part 3 – USMLE Step 1 Exam Experience.
- Part 4 – My First Impressions after the Exams.
My First Impression after the Step 2 CK and Step 1 Exams
My Feeling after Step 2 CK Exam
Done with the exam, Alhamdulillah 🙂
Although I don’t feel very good about my performance which I think is a universal problem each Step 2 CK takers has to experience, I feel a little liberated because of the hope that I won’t go through it another time.
⌛ The exam is NOT very long, the question stem is variable and just like the NBMEs and UWorld. The anxiety of the exam may make you feel time pressure more prominently than you felt while taking your assessment exams, but actually, there are a lot of short questions (3-4 lines) and not so many very long questions. A total of 5-6 questions were answered randomly due to time pressure in block 1 and block 2.
📜 Block 1 was 42 questions including an abstract (long and complicated).
Block 2 through Block 7 were 44 questions each.
Block 8 was 32 questions.
No drug ads.
A lot of multimedia, pictures, and radiology. ~ 4 EKGs.
👻 Some weird questions but overall the usual stuff. The painful thing is that a lot of the questions are about subjects you already studied and solved a lot of practice questions about BUT you still can’t figure the answer out. This made me think that it’s more important to go deep into the main subjects and understand every word rather than know a lot of secondary subjects that are well covered by concepts in some of the UW questions.
😑 Clinical Mastery Series wasn’t that helpful. Any question you solve without knowing the right answer and an explanation is useless when it comes to the exam unless you will do it as an assessment.
💎 My advice: Focus on UW and study its material along with your book with pen and paper and make sure you can apply these informations fast without much thinking.
😅 Lastly: I don’t know how I’m going to score, so some of the points above are just my feelings. If I score high, then my preparation was good enough and my tone will change. If I score low then you can imagine the reverse.
First Impression after Finishing the Step 1 Exam
I took the exam yesterday. All I can say is what everyone has been saying for many years which is: “Study First Aid and UWorld and you’ll be fine.”
Most questions are normal, not very long, not very short. If they want to ask a difficult question, the answer will still be in UW and FA although the question stem might be twisted a little bit or the info required might be a minor detail. I felt like this exam was much easier than the CK exam I took last year. However, this was also the case for NBMEs and that makes the curve steeper, so it’s not about the difficulty, rather your performance in comparison to others.
Some questions may be 3 – 4, were very weird and those might be experimental or for differentiation between +260 and +280!
I don’t know how well or bad I did. Please, pray for me. My goal is +240.
You’re welcome to ask me anything but bear in mind I can’t disclose exam content.
Doubts on Step 1 Answered by the Author.
The following questions were asked to the author by different candidates; answers are provided by the author.
Questions collected & edited by Arnab Mukherjee.
Q. How was the level of difficulty compared to NBMEs and UWorld questions?
A. Very similar to the practice questions in USMLE website. Easier than UW and harder than NBMEs.
Q. Where do you prepare for ECG and heart sounds?
A. It’s not a CK exam. Usually the question stem will be enough for you to answer it or may tell you what to expect when you look/listen/watch the media given.
Q. What about physiology,, is first aid enough?!
A. First Aid AND UW. UW is even more important than FA in terms of understanding physiology because FA is compact/condensed pile of information AND UW is the relaxed version.
Q. How can one improve 15 points in 4 weeks?
A. You do UW again once and you do First Aid again once or twice with focus on your deficits.
Q. Which NBME was similar to the exam by difficulty?
A. No one. The exam is most similar to the 120 experimental questions on USMLE website.
Q. What is better resource for pathology?
A. Goljan is too much, it’s not just pathology though. Pathoma is good but again I think FA and UW are enough. You can deviate to other sources like Pathoma for understanding FA and UW better.
Q. How did u study biochemistry and microbiology?
A. I did Kaplan, FA, and UW. But again, FA and UW are enough.
Q. I have been studying only FA and UWorld and have given only one reading to Kaplan books except anatomy,patho and physio for which I used High Yield (Anatomy) and Goljan (Patho), didn’t use anything for physio. Goljan (2016) was a huge time-waste and didn’t retain anything, heard about Pathoma later but don’t have time to start Pathoma now. So I’m depending on UW and FA only. Is it okay to read pathology only from FA and UWorld… what resource did you use for pathology ? Just FA and UWorld? Thank you so much and wish you good luck.
A. I did 1/2 of Pathoma videos once. I did some chapters from Goljan once. And I did FA and UW. But UW was my main thing. It’s not about a lot of resources. FA and UW are enough. It’s about how you do it. Make sure you understand and retain information by spaced repetition and spending more time on hard subjects.
Q. How do we do spaced repetition?
A. You do UW and FA multiple times. That’s spaced repetition.
Q. Immunology and Biochem ? Is FA enough for them? UWorld offline or online?
A. UW online to put you in the right mood and to see your progress. FA and UW are enough for all disciplines but do them right. Understand their material and practice multiple times and make sure to be able to recall it when needed.
Q. Did you register for any preparation class?
Q. And where did you write the exams?
A. Illinois, USA. It doesn’t make a difference though.
Q. Please some advice for undergraduate students about study plan to get USMLE!
A. Start doing UW and FA from now with every chapter/ material you take in your school. If you don’t understand something in FA or UW (and this will happen because a lot of stuff are more clinical than basic) look for it on the internet and understand it.
Q. In your opinion, is it better to take step 2 CK before step 1 and why? 😃
A. Step 1 first. I made a mistake by taking CK first because now I feel that if I retake CK I might get +260 instead of the 243 I got. I’m happy with the 243 because that was my goal. The point is that Step 1 prepares you well for CK. CK doesn’t help as much with Step 1.
Q. Does Pathoma and BRS Physio help or is UW and FA enough?
A. I didn’t do BRS. I did 1/2 of Pathoma. I think FA and UW are enough for both pathology and physiology. The bottom line is that you should invest time and effort in deeper understanding and more practice with FA and UW rather than doing other resources. You may deviate to other resources in one case which is the need for more understanding of the info in UW and FA NOT for acquiring new info.
Q. How does it feel now that you have only Step 2 CS and 1 left?
A. A little relaxed but still somehow nervous. I still have CS at the 30th of next month and the result for Step 1 2 days before that! But definitely feeling better than before yesterday.
Q. Is FA, UW enough for Pharm, Micro, Immuno and BCH?
Q. Guide me about Anatomy …I’m very weak in anatomy 😰
A. UW and FA. Take your time to draw and develop mnemonics for the difficult anatomy subjects. Repeat multiple times over spaced intervals. You’ll be fine.
Q. How are you planning to acquired LOR which is required when we apply for residency/match ? Me being an IMG.
A. Any one who you worked/work with can write you a LOR. Of course the program directors prefer US medical doctors who you worked with in a clinical setting i.e. electives. Unfortunately, I didn’t do electives. I’ll try to do observership in July, August and September and get at least one letter of recommendation from these. Other letters will be from doctors I worked with in my home country.
Q. Did u do any other Qbank ? Should one care about the percentages he gets when answering UW ?
A. I did 1500 questions from Kaplan. 320 questions from USMLE-Rx. But these didn’t help me a lot. Don’t care about percentages unless too high (over 80 first time) or too low (under 40). NBMEs are for prediction.
Q. How many blocks were there in the exam?
A. Tutorial + 7. It can’t be more or less than that.
Q. Oh! Someone who took exam recently told that there were 8 blocks.
A. The exam counts the tutorial as a block so it’s 8 that way.
Q. How long ago did u graduate?
A. 2 years ago.
Q. I’m thinking to go through it quickly then sign up for UWorld online for two months.
A. Online is better because of 3 things:
The offline version doesn’t have some pictures and exhibits
The online QB will put you in the mood of the test which won’t happen with the offline version even if you do it timed.
You can track your progress and know your weaknesses and search for key words in the online QB.
Q. Did u do any questions practice for 7 blocks for time management in real exam ??
A. No I didn’t. It’s not a big deal. NBMEs are 200 questions each i.e. 5 exam blocks. So, it’s not hard to do another 2 in the actual exam as your body and nervous system will be the most alert. But It won’t hurt to do I think.
Q. Hello sir. I’m an average student in med school . Will I be able to get through if I put in hard work as other people … Or is it only for the ones who have always been at the top ?
A. Your grades in med school are irrelevant and I know a lot of stories that prove that. Just do the required work and pray and you’ll meet your goals Insha’llah.
Q. I heard that there are quite a bit of Next best step in management (Step 2) questions, was this true for you?
A. I think some questions were like that but they weren’t CK questions though. It’s not like you need to prioritize management steps as you do in the CK exam i.e. the way these questions may be asked are similar to CK questions but the actual information required is just Step 1 stuff. For example, If the question is: a middle aged man with a crushing chest pain; what to do? EKG, Troponin, CK-MB, or CXR The answer would be EKG and this is a CK question. However, if the question is: A 20 year old with pin point pupil, shallow breathing, loss of consciousness. what to do? Naloxone, Penicillamine, Vit. K or Flumazenil The answer would be naloxone and that’s a step 1 question. The first question is about prioritizing steps in management all actually can be included in this particular case. The second one is about knowing that Opioid toxicity is managed with naloxone.
Q. How many were doubtfully marked in each block?
A. From 5 – 15 I think. But, this is something I control in the exam. So, if I mark a lot and don’t have time to go over all the marked at the end of the block, I tend to mark less in the next block to avoid the same problem. I think you should just mark the questions you know you can think more about, not those that are very difficult and you have no clue what the answer might be, nor those that are straightforward.
Q. Kaplan books aren’t necessarily ? according to this article of yours …
A. You can do them. They will be a good introduction, but don’t make them your main material as I explained in the post.
Dr. Abdulmunaim Eid
Published with permission from the author. Image designing and editing by Arnab Mukherjee.
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