Best Resources for Understanding Biostatistics for Step 2CK

A doctor holding a stack of Step 2CK Biostatistics textbooks.


On January 6th, 2022, the USMLE Step 1 Exam became a pass or fail exam. This forever changed the landscape of the USMLE exams going forward. At present, the only graded USMLE examination prior to applying to residency is the USMLE Step 2CK examination. This exam is a unique opportunity to excel and set yourself apart during residency applications. Biostatistics and Epidemiology, while currently listed as comprising 3-5% of the content on the USMLE Step 2CK exam, are readily attainable points on test day with proper preparation, resources and exposure to prototypical questions. This topic sometimes poses challenges to examinees. With its reliance on statistical concepts and numerous formulas, supplemental resources can be required to master the material. Below are fantastic resources for finessing your biostatistics knowledge in advance of your Step 2CK test day.


UWorld Biostatistics Step 2CK Package


UWorld is arguably the number one destination when it comes to USMLE test preparation. Biostatistics is no exception. They offer an extension of their question bank with 16 modules covering high-yield topics in biostatistics ranging from trial design and research bias to measures of central tendency and interpretation of statistical testing. Within each module are questions related to the topic, allowing for self-assessment followed by guided explanations. For those who have a limited background in statistics and are looking for a detailed review of the need-to-know topics tested on Step 2 CK, including biostatistics, UWrold is one of the best resources out there. However, for those who have backgrounds in clinical or bench research, or those comfortable with basic statistics and epidemiology, you may want to review the general UWorld question bank biostatistics first, as mastery of those questions makes it unlikely additional studies are required.


AMBOSS for Step 2CK Biostatistics


When it comes to preparing for Step 2CK, practice is the key to success. This is even more critical when it comes to the formula-laden field of biostatistics. In order to master the content, repetition and recall of the key formulas allows for easy retrieval on test day.

AMBOSS is a medical education platform for both medical students and physicians to reference and review content. While UWorld’s strength comes in its comprehensive question bank, AMBOSS excels in its utility as a reference text. It includes detailed articles for further explanations, as well as ANKI flashcard integration allowing direct access to AMBOSS explanations from your custom ANKI question deck. As a result, your ANKI deck effectively has a built-in medical text available at all times. A deep dive into content is forever at your fingertips. This is one of the best resources for biostatistics for those who want to dive deeper than the essential information required for Step 2CK. It also carries the benefit of a lower price point when compared to UWorld. 


First Aid for the USMLE Step 2CK Examination


The First Aid for Step 2CK textbook contains a chapter on epidemiology. As all First Aid textbooks, it presents clear, concise, and relevant information regarding the topics covered in Step 2CK. The benefit of this text lies in the succinct and clear delineations of the necessary formulas to excel on your exam. While it does not provide practice questions, reviewing this chapter in advance of completing biostatistics-related questions within your question bank of choice is an excellent idea. It is a great text to ensure familiarity with the foundational concepts on the exam. Additionally, one can use this chapter to create a one-page sheet of key formulas to memorize, and frequent recall of this material ensures it is readily accessible on test day.


Randy Neil on YouTube


While reading an explanation to a statistics question can be helpful, often hands-on guidance through the calculations is necessary for true understanding. In this domain, Randy Neil has gained respect from generations of medical students for his concise, step-by-step explanations of commonly tested biostatistics topics in the form of USMLE-style questions. He excels in providing students with helpful mnemonics to master simple concepts. This resource is best for those with minimal biostatistics knowledge who struggle with the basics. His first two-part video for biostatistics (originally created for Step 1 and in total less than 60 minutes) is an outstanding starting point. There are also additional videos available if more guidance is needed.


Osmosis for Step 2CK Biostatistics


When it comes to biostatistics, understanding the basic concepts is just as important as knowing the key formulas. Conceptual understanding often lags behind. When in-depth texts and practice questions fail, osmosis provides videos with outstanding associated visual illustrations to solidify students’ understanding. Their platform has countless videos, most between 5 and 15 minutes, covering the major tested topics on Step 2CK. Given they also have additional videos on less frequently covered topics (including more nuanced parametric statistical testing such as logistic and linear regression, as well as non-parametric testing such as the kappa coefficient and the Mann-Whitney U Test) this resource is best used for targeted conceptual review of topics that are not clear after practice questions. Another benefit of osmosis is their High Yield Notes, which summarize the key formulas and concepts of the videos into concise one-page notes for later reference.


Depending on your baseline biostatistics knowledge, learning style, and dedicated time available, all of the above resources are useful in excelling on Step 2CK. Overall, with a focus on practice questions, active recall of the necessary formulas, and conceptual understanding of the tested concepts, a great score is well within reach.

For some extra assistance and a guiding hand to help you prepare for your Step 2CK exam, consider enlisting the help of a 1-on-1 Step 2CK tutor! Schedule your complimentary consultation today to learn more about how Elite Medical Prep can help you succeed!

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