Home » Two New CCSSA NBMEs Are Coming for USMLE Step 2 CK

Two New CCSSA NBMEs Are Coming for USMLE Step 2 CK

8 min


A medical student taking a USMLE Step 2 CK practice test in a library un front of a computer.


The NBME (National Board of Medical Examiners) is releasing new CCSSAs (Comprehensive Clinical Science Self-Assessment) forms this spring on May 22nd, 2023.  What do two new Step 2 CK NBMEs mean for your study plan? 


There are a few different factors that can be helpful in predicting your Step 2 CK performance. One of these is practice tests. The NBME provides self-assessment exams for all levels of the USMLE exams. Their CCSSA is the practice test that correlates with USMLE Step 2 CK. 



Benefits of CCSSAs – Step 2 CK NBMEs


Question-based learning is an effective way to learn and review material by testing your recall and understanding of content. Students often start by using Step-oriented question banks such as UWorld or Amboss. Taking practice exams not only provides question-based learning but also helps build stamina for test day. This is because the test forms more closely simulate the setting of completing multiple timed question blocks. Performance on scheduled practice exams can also serve as a marker for your progress throughout your study period.


Practice tests that are highly recommended as part of the test prep include UWSA (UWorld Self Assessments), Free 120 (free test form of 120 questions provided by NBME), and CCSSAs. Taking CCSSAs during your study period can help with the following: 

  • Increased exposure to the test format: the testing interface is similar to that of the actual USMLE exam. Many people also find that the NBME question style and formatting most closely resemble those of the questions on the real USMLE Step 2 CK.  
  • Familiarize yourself with high-yield topics and content distribution: the questions in the CCSSA should reflect a similar content distribution to the USMLE exam. For example, the difference between system-based practice versus ethics and professionalism questions. The practice forms also contain commonly tested topics, answer choices, or images that students report coming across on their test day. 
  • Evaluate strengths and weaknesses: the score report includes a breakdown of your performance by systems and question types. This will help guide your focus to any areas that are significantly weaker than others. Outside of this official breakdown, personal review of the practice test can also highlight concepts or certain phrasings that you are less comfortable with. 


What USMLE Step 2 CK Practice Tests Are Currently Available? What Will Change?


There are 4 CCSSA forms currently available: 9, 10, 11, and 12. These will remain available, with NBME adding two more forms to make six total available practice tests. 


If you are looking for which form is the best score predictor, you can take a look at our blog post on this topic here. It is important to note these conclusions are subject to selected reporting from fellow test takers. However, overall, all of these practice exams can give an estimated range for where you may stand. Taking advantage of these two new CCSSA forms will provide additional data points to help trend your study progress and predict a more accurate estimate for the actual test day performance. 



Incorporating the New CCSSA Step 2 CK Practice Tests Into Your Study Plan


So when should you take the CCSSA practice tests? It can be helpful to start your study period with a practice exam, which will serve as a baseline and introduce a framework for the test format. Then during the study period, students generally space out practice exams to complete about one every week. The most important aspect to keep in mind when scheduling these Step 2 CK practice tests is that you have given yourself enough time in between to review each form and learn/improve on weak point(s) before taking the next one. For example, the time in between practice exams may decrease later in the study period as you take less time reviewing and addressing difficult areas.


If you are nearing the end of your study period when these two new forms are released, it may be helpful to take the new practice exams. It will be most beneficial if there is time to fully review the forms, and/or a need for an additional score estimate to help determine whether you are on track to passing the real deal. For ideas on incorporating CCSSA tests into your study schedule, check out our sample 6-week Step 2 study plan, or consider discussing a personalized study schedule with one of our 1-on-1 USMLE Step 2 CK tutors.


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