Step 2CK Preparation and Experience

Against All Odds – Step 2CK Prep Experience and Tips

Hey guys! Firstly I’m overwhelmed by the comments and messages and I try to respond to all messages if I can! I just realized I didn’t post much about how I tackled the exam and prep that might help others.


I made extensive color-coded notes with Notability and I will be using for Step 3. Some have asked for a screenshot of what my notes look like and I’m happy to show you if this helps.

I watched nearly all Emma Holiday Reviews. But be aware that some things are outdated with regards best first step/medication.

To maintain motivation I actually studied on my sofa with IPad and watched Netflix every time I lost the will to live.

I made weekly goals, not daily ones. If you have a bad day (I had a few!) it can make you feel worse to not achieve your goals so I found spreading it out across a week or even a month better for me personally.

A lot of the offline NBMEs answer keys are a bit off so I found this group really good to hash out ideas, also breaks up the monotony!

I used Picmonic for a few things as found sketchy step 2 too long but I liked during IM rotation! I made notes from sketchy during rotation but did not use them in dedicated prep. I had work boots from Step 1 and flicked through antibiotics briefly.

I did all CMS and as many questions as humanly possible, this was also my Step 1 approach.

I did not study systems. I studied everything separated initially eg OBGYN; IM etc but during the last 4 weeks I tend to blast myself with random questions so I was constantly reviewing everything whilst cutting down my notes to bullet points.

I made 6 slides of stuff I found hard to retain that I looked at right before the exam.

I slept very badly before the exam and had a bad stomach! I also had a flare-up of some conditions so I honestly didn’t walk into that exam feeling the best but I was so burned out I just wanted it over.

Exam Tips

I always had 5-10 mins each block to review. I actually changed two right to wrong so this may not have benefited me. Stick with your initial gut I’d say.

The first abstract I tried to do in the middle of the block but began to get anxious as took so liking. I left next til the end of the block and that was a far better approach.

I took a physical break away from the desk every 2 blocks where I ate a protein bar/lunch etc, used the restroom, and had some caffeine
After each block, if I didn’t leave I still sat there for 2 mins taking a few deep breathes and clearing my head.

I did not check the answers after blocks, I did not touch my phone. I think knowing my mistakes would have freaked me out. I was the same in Step 1.

I think my starting in an exhausted state actually helped me as I was too tired to freak out. I even thought they’d given me the wrong abstract as the questions didn’t appear related and remember actually laughing at that in the exam. I had taken a Nytol (nonprescription sleep aid; doesn’t do a lot!) but I wouldn’t take an actual sleeping pill as I function on no sleep but not of drug hangover but that’s my personal choice.

The way I approached WTF questions

eliminate all absurd answers-> poss 3 left after. Look at the information in the stem. Then pick the most reasonable in your judgment. Trust your judgment. I think I ended up putting Meckel’s in an adult as the only viable option but upon review, I think I got that correct. Don’t doubt yourself.

My steps had lots of contraindications! Eg for essential tremor you would give propranolol but mine had COPD and you can easily miss that beta-blockers not great in that!

I had a lot of prognostic factors, not risk factors! So what would be the likely outcome? What is likely to cause a worse outcome after treatment.
Biostatistics was pretty simple!

Lots of weird ethics that you honestly can’t study for. Again, use the best judgment.

I don’t remember a lot of actual questions but I remember how I felt in the exam.

I don’t mark things really so I can’t comment on that.

Step 1 stuff you either remember or don’t. I really don’t think it’s worth the time it would take to review FA for the amount tested. Some were v basic, some not so and some I just overthought. But less than 10 in the entire exam.

I hope this helps, again, if you have specific questions I will try to answer if I can!

It’s a tough exam but it’s doable! I do not consider myself a particularly gifted student but I study smart. I used to barely pass trying to know EVERYTHING, it’s not possible and leads to burn out and failure honestly. Accept you cannot know everything but that you understand most things so that you can make a good call and I think that’s the kind of doctor they want, based on my experience of the exams.


Becks Bethechange

Other Articles from this Author

Against All Odds – an Amazing Success Story in USMLE Step 2CK

Agaist All Odds – Step 2 CK Exam Experience and Resources

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