10 Steps to Creating Your Perfect Step 2 CK Study Plan
Your dedicated Step 2 CK study time is approaching, and you need an effective study plan to keep yourself on track. It can be difficult to adjust to a premade schedule, especially when it does not account for your weaker subjects or the amount of study time that you have or is not based on the resources that you want to use. We highly recommend creating your own Step 2 CK study plan. This will maximize your study time as you can focus on your weaker subjects and create a plan based on your learning style. These ten steps will guide you through creating your customized USMLE Step 2 CK study schedule. So set aside a couple of hours, grab a pen and a calendar (or your laptop), and start planning!
Choose Your Step 2 CK Resources
A commonly made mistake is using Step 2 study time to get through all of the resources available. This can be overwhelming and keep you from using your limited study time to understand concepts since you will be more focused on finishing each resource. You should only use 2-3 high-yield resources to study for USMLE Step 2 CK. Your main resource should be a question bank, like UWorld. Your other resource should provide you with topic review. You can use OnlineMedEd, Boards & Beyond, or AMBOSS.
Assign Time for Practice Questions in Your Study Plan
Your Step 2 CK study plan should include at least 10 hours per day for 4-6 (and up to 8) weeks. Remember, the harder you work, the higher your likelihood of a high score. Split up UWorld questions accordingly. You should allow yourself time to get through all of the questions at least once. If possible, leave time to re-do your wrong questions. It is highly recommended that you do that. You should be doing at least 80 questions daily. Make sure to account for days when you will be doing practice exams and days that you plan to take off. If you are planning on using tutor mode and/or doing your questions untimed, make sure that within three weeks of the test you switch to doing timed sets off tutor mode. You should be making flashcards as you go through the questions, so make sure to account for that time as well.
Assign Time for Topic Review
Apart from assigning questions, you need to assign yourself topics to review each day of your study plan. This will involve watching videos for these topics and/or reading. Heavier topics should span over a few days and lighter topics can be covered in a day or two. Start with your weakest topics. This will allow you to work on your weak subjects early on and review them again at the end. It is always easier to study things that you know. Maximize your study time by studying what you do not know.
Schedule Practice Tests in your Step 2 CK Study Plan
You should be doing practice exams at regular intervals of about 1-2 weeks apart to track your progress. Schedule these in advance. You should schedule one practice exam at the start of your studying to assess your baseline and give you an idea of what to expect on Step 2. Leaving all or most of the practice exams for the last week will prevent you from being able to track your progress and you will tire out if you do back-to-back practice exams leading up to your test day. Avoid this!
Schedule Tasks by Hours
Instead of making a list of what you need to do each day, schedule each day by hours. Allow a reasonable amount of time for each task and make sure to schedule regular breaks. If you do not take regular breaks, your mind will take them for you and lead you to burn out quicker. You should schedule each day by hours prior to starting your study period, and not as you go. Start with less questions initially (about 80 per day), and use your first week of studying to build up to doing more questions within the same time period (about 120 per day). Here is an example of a study day schedule:
6am – 7am: wake up, have breakfast, go to the gym
7am – 8:30am: 40 questions
8:30am – 8:45am: break
8:45am – 11am: review 40 questions
11am – 12pm: topic review
12pm – 1pm: lunch
1pm – 2:30pm: 40 questions
2:30pm – 2:45pm: break
2:45pm – 5pm: review 40 questions
5pm – 5:15pm: break
5:15pm – 6:30pm: topic review
6:30pm – 7:30pm: dinner
7:30pm – 8:30pm: flashcards
Plan Your Days Off as Part of Your Step 2 Study Schedule
You will get burned out quickly if you do not take days off. You should assign yourself one day per week off from studying. If you are on a time constraint, you can make this a half day. Try to avoid staying at home during all of your time off, especially if that is where you do your studying. Focus on completely clearing your mind from the stress of Step 2. Most importantly, you should take off the day before your test. If it eases your anxiety, you can do some light review in the morning, but do not spend more than two hours on studying the day before your test.
Leave Time for Flashcard Review
Dedicate about one hour every evening to review your flashcards. It is best to schedule this as the last task on your to-do list after you have completed questions and topic review. Reviewing flashcards regularly will solidify your weakest topics and keep your memory refreshed until test day on those “difficult to remember” topics.
Keep the Last Week of Your Step 2 CK Study Plan for Review
You should leave about one week at the end to do another practice exam and use the rest of the days to review your weakest subjects. Remember how you started your review with your weakest subjects? Ending your review with these will further reinforce your knowledge and maximize your test score. It is possible your weakest subjects are different from what they were initially. Use your question bank to point you toward the topics you should review. These topics can be assigned the week prior rather than when you initially create your schedule.
Set Up Your Study Space
Your study space is just as important as your study schedule. If you are planning to do most of your studying at home, try to use a room with a lot of natural light (and maybe even a view). Add a plant and some candles to your desk. Put up a picture that reminds you of a peaceful place or your loved one. And make sure that the desk chair is comfortable since you will spend a lot of time sitting down. Furthermore, try to vary your study space by going to a library or a quiet coffee shop, or possibly even a friend’s house (if you are both studying for Step 2 CK). It is not healthy to stay at home every day for two months. Plus, research has shown that a new study environment could promote better recall.
Plan Something to Look Forward To
Prior to starting your studying, you should plan something that you can look forward to after your test. This can be anything from a vacation, to spending a weekend camping, or staying local and spending time with your family or friends. Planning this early and in advance will serve to brighten up your gloomy study day when it seems like there is no end in sight. Plus, it is much easier to stay focused on your goals when you have something exciting to attend to after your exam.
We hope these steps help you to construct a study schedule that is customized and most effective for you. If you need help in creating a study schedule or preparing for Step 2 CK, Elite Medical Prep is here to help! Schedule a free consultation today to learn more about how we can help maximize your study time!