MY STEP 2 CK EXPERIENCE
Step 1 score- 255 ( Oct 2019)
Step 2 CK score- 246 (July 2020)
TOTAL PREP TIME - 7 months (5 months plus 2 months extended due to COVID-19)
RESOURCES used (in order of usefulness)-
Uworld for CK- The absolute best resource you can use for CK. Spend most of your time on this. Did 4 rounds,
Uworld notes- Found it very useful, as it’s compiled notes from Uworld questions on which I could add other details and updates. Read it atleast 5-6 times. Find the latest updated notes when you start out.
FA Step 1- The major resource for Biostats, microbiology and pharmacology. Also helpful for many other topics, specially those you’re weak on. I read it system-wise along with my notes.
Uworld for step 3- This is a good source of supplementing your knowledge on topics that are covered in CK. It has 1500 questions. Half of those are similar to CK questions in difficulty, the other half covers added info on known topics (can be useful in answering those ‘vague questions’ on the actual test- these questions are also mostly a step forward on things you already know).
CMS forms- Did 4 forms for each subject (50 questions in each form). Not the absolute best of resources, and not completely essential. Can be good for practice. Check ‘Hymedicine.com’ to review the forms. Has good explanations.
UWSA 1- 246 2 months before the exam.
NBME 7- 230 4 weeks before
UWSA 2- 258 10 days before
New free 120- 88% 7 days before
OVERVIEW OF PREPARATION-
Started in December 2019, 6 weeks after taking step 1. Consistently started studying by mid Jan.
Started with Uworld online, did the 1st round subject wise and tutor mode . I read Uworld notes after I finished each section. Took around 3 months. finished towards the end of March. Finished 1st round at 64%.
After that, I took around 2 weeks to read the Uworld notes, as well as FA step 1 .
Then I did incorrects from round 1 as I was not confident with the new concepts. Read the notes again after it.
Started Uworld 2nd round in Mid April in random, timed mode . Took around 3 weeks to finish . I did 5-6 blocks a day along with review. Did more blocks in order to build up a longer attention span. Finished at 90% .
Took SA1 after that and scored 246. Realized that there were a lot of things to be memorised which is a difficult thing for me to do. Lots of protocols and facts and as compared to Step 1. This was the time when the COVID pandemic meant a lockdown in my home country (India).
So I spent the months of May and June doing Step 3 Uworld offline. Enjoyed that part. Tried to study notes and memorise as much as I could but wasn’t very comfortable with it even at last. Just Reading notes was exhausting for me.
Also used the extra 2 months to do 2 more things-
- Uworld for step 3 - Around 1500 questions. Since it was Uworld, the question quality and the overall pattern of asking questions (and subsequently affecting our way of thinking) was very similar to Uworld for CK. Plus, there were a lot of ‘next best step’ questions and added info about known topics that were covered. These were like the ‘vague questions’ everyone gets on their exam.
I really liked it, and although it is not completely essential for CK, I’d recommend having a look IF you have the time. Also the added benefit of being directly useful for step 3 prep later on.
- CMS forms - 50 questions in each form, 6 forms each for 6 subjects. I did 4 from each subject. Lots of questions to practice, but very little knowledge that can directly help with your preps. Good source if you want question practise. Not important for knowledge-building.
So I took NBME 7 (available free online at the time) around 4 weeks before the exam. I got 230 . I didn’t believe in the 3 digit scores of these mock tests because of my experiences in Step 1. Not a good score but focused on my mistakes and went ahead.
I used the last month to do around 1000 marked questions- 4-5 blocks a day along with a quick review.
Took SA2 10 days before the exam. Took NBME 8 offline and combined it with the new free 120 7 days before the exam to have the long exam-like experience.
Scored 258 on the SA2 and 88% on the free 120. So going into the last week I was feeling good. I was realistic about my weaknesses but I was sure about the fact that I had given my all and done whatever I could for the test.
Revised my notes and reviewed the quick review section of FA step 1 during the last week.
EXAM DAY EXPERIENCE-
Question length- midway between Uworld and NBMEs. Some very short questions, some long ones too. Time was not a problem. Ran out of time a bit in the first block but managed the other blocks pretty well . The sign out process was shortened due to COVID, so didn’t have to sign or give my fingerprint every time. Made it quicker and saved some time.
Question difficulty- The first two blocks felt relatively difficult, the other four were good and the remaining two were average. There were a couple of vague questions in each group.
Overall, felt satisfied with my effort as I came out of the centre. Didn’t have high expectations. Frankly could’nt say anything about the test. I was realistic. From my preparation, I was expecting 240s to 250s but wasn’t feeling low considering the fact that many people score more in CK compared to Step 1.
Got the result on the third Wednesday,
Was content with 246. The score was over the cut-offs I had seen till that point. So I was satisfied with the result.
This test is not your life: The test is very important for your career and aspirations but it is a part of your life ultimately. Do your best, give your all for it to prevent any future regrets but never judge yourself based on your performance in the USMLE tests. There are things like grit, determination and desire which can take you anywhere you want to be in life. There can be set-backs but it’s up to us to get back up and move ahead.
Management and sincerity : For me, these two traits are indispensable for even navigating through the USMLE journey leave alone performing well, considering the fact that the exams can be taken at your disposal. These two traits will always triumph over intellect. These are traits which can take you a long way in life so make sure you polish and execute them well.
Be Grateful: I said this earlier, I’m saying it again. This score is not just yours. This is a result of combined efforts of each and every person around you be it your friends or family or any other third person who has invested their time and efforts in you and supported you in any way, be it big or small. Always be thankful to them and be grateful for having such people in your lives. It’s much more important than any test score you got.
IT’S ALL IN YOUR HANDS AND YOU CAN DO IT!