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How to Score a 240 on Step 2CK

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A Student using a laptop with a notebook and headphones for USMLE Step 2 CK

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The USMLE Step 2CK is the second written medical school board exam and it is typically taken after one year of clinical rotations. With the new pass/fail Step 1 scoring system, reaching your Step 2CK score goal may become more important than ever.

 

The goal of this test is to assess the examinee’s ability to assimilate the knowledge from pre-clinical and clinical years. This involves applying knowledge to clinical scenarios and making decisions on testing and treatment. Furthermore, this test aims to assess the ability to practice medicine under supervision. USMLE Step 2CK is graded with a typical score range from 1 to 300. In order to avoid failing Step 2CK, you will need to attain a score of at least 214. Now, having this brief test and scoring overview, we can consider individualized approaches to the exam.

 

 

Getting Started: USMLE Step 2CK Resources

 

Before you can begin studying, creating a study schedule, or even setting a score goal, you will need to determine the appropriate resources. This is dependent upon many different variables, such as study schedule, Step 2CK score goal, time until test day, previous experience and learning style.

 

UWorld is a tried and true resource that effectively promotes active learning through testing and comprehensive review. NBMEs and other practice exams are a great resource for simulating test day. Some other key resources that have been beneficial are Master the Boards and Onlinemeded. Master the Boards allows you to practice the mentality that is required to reach your USMLE Step 2CK score goal.

 

Maximize these resources by applying gained knowledge to UWorld questions and exams to keep your active recall in top shape. One important thing to remember is to not invest in or use too many resources. We recommend selecting around three primary resources. If you have questions or gaps in knowledge not covered by these, feel free to supplement.

 

 

Defining Your USMLE Step 2CK Score Goal

 

Defining a score goal can be difficult, so let’s look at some data about the test. According to USMLE, the average USMLE Step 2CK score is approximately 245. The mean is 247 with a standard deviation of 15.

 

This is great news. In 2022 98% of test takers passed Step 2CK. For some students, the primary goal is to pass, but this post focuses on surpassing 240. It can be helpful to break scoring ranges into tiers with the average being within one standard deviation from the mean (232-262), between 1 and 2 standard deviations (217-232 and 262-277), and greater than 2 standard deviations (less than 217 or greater than 277). It is important to note that these percentiles are based on relation to other test-takers, not off pure average.

 

We recommend taking a practice test right when you start studying, to establish your baseline score. Keep this baseline in mind, along with your timeline and availability to study, when deciding on your score goal. You may also want to consider what specialty you want to match into. Take a look at the average scores of those who matched into your desired specialty last cycle. Some options to look at may be Neurology, Anesthesiology, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine and OB/GYN.

 

As with all tests and goals, they are fluid and can change as new variables are encountered. I would caution against setting too rigid goals as they can both add undue stress and distract from the actual process that goes into reaching them.

 

 

Creating Your Study Schedule

 

To reach the score goal that you defined above, you will need to engineer a schedule that will lead you on the process towards this goal. As with goal setting, flexibility when creating a study schedule is crucial. Unlike Step 1, studying for Step 2CK does not typically include a dedicated study period. Thus, the intricacies of schedule planning become that much more convoluted. It’s vital to seize every opportunity to expand your knowledge and optimize Step 2CK study resources.

 

Strategies for Effective Step 2CK Studying

 

Studying for Step 2CK begins with the shelf exams that are encountered throughout the first year of clinical training. The most appropriate suggestion from the onset is to learn as much as possible on every rotation. A goal should be to perform as well as possible on each shelf exam as these will lay an important groundwork when shifting focus to Step 2CK. Especially important is the internal medicine shelf as this has the highest percentage of questions on Step 2CK.

 

As you near the time to take Step 2CK and want to narrow your studying, purchasing the study resources described above and honing in your schedule is paramount. Using the resources discussed above, you will work to supplement what was learned during rotations and studying for shelf exams. This may also be a good time to consider enlisting the help of a Step 2CK tutor.

 

The crux of any board studying discussion is the results. How do you get to the point where you are ready to take this test? The first step is understanding the test and what you are getting into, which was already covered here. The next step is selecting the best resources for you and executing your study schedule as well as you can. UWorld can be an important tool to help you gauge how you are doing. It is important to note again, that the important variable is not your raw percentage correct, but that percentage correct relative to other students. NBME can serve as another tool to give you an idea about where you stand.

 

As with any competitive endeavor (academic, physical, or otherwise), your confidence or lack thereof can make a big difference in your performance. Being able to practice in situations akin to what will be encountered on test day will be helpful in creating some familiarity. The more practice you have will also promote confidence on test day. On test day, trust your preparation and showcase your hard work.

 

Good luck! Feel free to schedule your complimentary consultation with Elite Medical Prep to learn more about our tutoring services!

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