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What to Bring With You to Your Step 2 Exam

11 min


group of medical school students taking their Step 2 exam at a Prometric center.


Preparing for USMLE Step 2  is no small feat. You have spent hours dissecting UWorld questions and crushing your Shelf exams. All while still diligently learning how to be an exemplary physician in your classes and clerkship rotations. With so much on your plate, you may forget that one of the most important parts of preparing for USMLE Step 2 is being ready for test day itself, including what to bring with you.


Being a total of nine hours, the day is long and you must come prepared in more ways than one. So let’s go over everything you will need to have a successful USMLE Step 2 test day!



Preparing for the USMLE Step 2 Test Itself


While this blog will mainly focus on what you need for test day, it is important to briefly touch on resources and ways to study for the test itself. Many, if not most, students find the content of USMLE Step 2 to be more manageable compared to its predecessor, USMLE Step 1. The main reason is Step 2 tends to focus its questions more on clinical medicine – instead of testing you on that one step in a complex pathway or an enzyme in a biochemical cascade, you will be asked to pinpoint the next diagnostic steps, interpret objective data, or make a diagnosis.


Most students take Step 2 after their clinical clerkships which feature similar styles of questions and scenarios. Therefore, students often feel prepared as they have been seeing similar scenarios discussed in question stems for months on the wards. In terms of study material, UWorld remains the most popular primary resource and is often the only resource students may use. See our ultimate Step 2 study guide for more details on using UWorld and other resources and a structured study plan.


Throughout clerkships, it is important to do UWorld questions in the specialty you are rotating on. There is a correlation between doing well on Shelf exams and Step 2 itself. Most students find that going through UWold questions is more than satisfactory as a study resource. However, it is not uncommon to supplement with other study materials such as Step Up to Medicine or First Aid USMLE Step 2 CK, especially if you enjoy quick pearls and bullet points. 



What to Do the Week Before the Step 2 Exam?


As you approach the week leading up to the Step 2 Exam, it’s time to ease off the intense studying and focus on honing in on weaker areas that demand more review. Additionally, this week serves as an ideal time to acquaint yourself with the exam’s format.


The USMLE website offers an interactive testing experience, allowing you to practice using the same interface you’ll encounter on the actual test day. It’s worth noting that this format differs from what you’re accustomed to on UWorld and other question banks. The interactive testing experience also encompasses the tutorial that kicks off the Step 2 exam. To ensure a smoother exam day experience, plan to go through the tutorial ahead of time. This not only prevents a last-minute introduction to the tutorial but also frees up valuable time for a well-deserved break later in the test.


Even more advantageous, the interactive testing experience provides 120 sample questions for extra practice. If you’re aiming for a truly authentic simulation of the real testing environment, consider scheduling a free practice session at your local Prometric Center (pending availability).


Whichever path you choose, investing time in familiarizing yourself with the exam format is a proactive step that pays off on the actual exam day, relieving you of unnecessary stress and time constraints.



What to Do the Day Before the Test?


The day before the test is your time to unwind and celebrate your achievements. You’ve put in the hard work, and tomorrow that work will pay off. If you feel like doing some last-minute review, consider light flashcards or a quick read through weaker areas. Additionally, ensure you have any snacks, beverages, and food you plan to bring prepared for the Step 2 exam to minimize any test-day stress. It’s also advisable to glance through the Rules of Conduct to familiarize yourself with what to expect once you’re in the testing center.



What to Bring With You to Your Step 2 Exam


To recap, the Step 2 exam spans 9 hours with 8 sections, each lasting 60 minutes, and includes a 45-minute break. A 15-minute tutorial is presented at the beginning, which you can skip if already reviewed on the interactive testing experience.


Food and Snacks


Given the exam’s duration, you need to make sure you bring enough food and beverages to fuel yourself on your breaks throughout the Step 2 exam. Start the day with a substantial breakfast at home. Pack a non-perishable lunch, such as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, in case there’s no refrigerator access in the testing center. Ensure you also pack snacks like crackers, granola, or protein bars, and have an adequate supply of water. If bringing gum or cough drops, they must be unwrapped and not in a container.


Arrive Early, Don’t Forget Your ID!


Plan to arrive 30 minutes to one hour before your scheduled start time. Bring a physical copy of your scheduling permit (not electronic) and a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. Note that a school ID is not acceptable. For ID-related queries, contact the testing center before your test day.


What to Wear to Your Step 2 Exam


Opt for a comfortable outfit due to the lengthy duration. Wear layers to accommodate any room temperature variations. While Prometric provides noise-canceling headphones, consider bringing your own earplugs for added comfort.


Bringing Medicine and Medical Devices to the Testing Center


If you need to bring medication or a medical device to the testing center and possibly into the test room, refer to the USMLE’s list of permissible items. For unlisted items, contact [email protected] or 215-590-9700 before test day.



Checklist of What to Bring on Test Day:


  • Copy of scheduling permit (not electronic)
  • Government-issued photo identification
  • Non-perishable lunch and snacks
  • Water and other beverages of your choice
  • A sweatshirt or jacket
  • Ear plugs (unwrapped in a clear container)
  • Medications or devices (inhalers, epi pens, etc)
  • Face mask (not required)


For more help preparing for the USMLE Step 2, or any other medical licensing exam, consider enlisting the help of an Elite Medical Prep tutor! Schedule a complimentary consultation to learn more.

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