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Old 10-25-2011
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Arrow How I passed Step 2 CK in 12 days tips

Hello everyone,
I’d like to share my experience of passing Step 2 CK in September 2011 at my first attempt, after 12 days of revision. This may not be useful for many of you, as my sole aim was to pass the exam as I have already secured a subspecialty clinical fellowship in ophthalmology in the USA. I did not need a high score.

You may have already read my thread in this forum about passing Step 1 after 54 days and Step 2 CS after 17 days of revision. (Step 1:, Step 2 CS:

For those who haven’t, I am a board certified ophthalmologist in the U.K. I went to medical school in the UK, and graduated 11 years ago. I am of Asian origin and grew up in Asia. I have not done any general medicine or surgery for 10 years - only ophthalmology. I am taking the USMLEs for the reason I have highlighted in the first paragraph.


USMLE Step.........Revision days.....Exam date..........Results date
2 CS...................17....................20th June 2011....Aug 2011
1........................54...................14th Aug 2011......8th Sept 2011

Details relating to current thread:
(2 CK ..................12...................26th Sept 2011.....19th Oct 2011

I commenced my Step 2 CK preparation about 5 days after receiving my Step 1 results. I used the following RESOURCES ONLY:
1. Master The Boards for Step 2 CK, Fischer 2010 – my main book.
2. USMLE World Step 2 CK Question Bank - online
3. First Aid for Step 1, 2011 (yes, step 1!) – relevant info only via index
4. First Aid for Step 2 CK, Le 2009 – High Yield tables and images only at end of book. Did not read chapters.
5. NBME self-assessment form number 2 (comprehensive clinical science)
As you can see, I only had 12 days to revise. Time was very short (as has been the pattern with all my other USMLE Steps if you read my other threads). Thus, I was forced to limit the number of books I used to just 3 texts (Master the Boards used 90+% of the time). I needed to be extremely focused and targeted with my revision. I agree with other forum posts about using more books for a higher score and if you have more time.

1. Days 1-3:
Read through / learned about 60% of Master The Boards. I realized I was taking too long, thus I moved on to the questions.

2. Days 4-10:
I did the USMLE World Qbank. I only managed about 600 questions (unlike Step 1 where I did over 1700 questions). Instead of using the “Tutor Mode” system by system as I exclusively did for Step 1, I used the “Timed” mode only and mixed all the question-types every single time. I changed my qbank style, as I realised my time management for the Step 1 exam could’ve been improved. On average, I scored about 5-10% better on the UW Step 2 CK Qbank compared with Step 1.

I referred to First Aid for Step 1 quite a lot, surprisingly! There is some useful clinically relevant stuff in that book, and as I had taken Step 1 just a few weeks beforehand, I knew the book reasonably well and could find stuff more quickly. Master The Boards is a relatively easy read, but the index section is not the best and I didn’t want to spend too much time looking up exam-specific clinical information. I read additional relevant Master the Boards pages as I did the Qbank. All in all, I think I covered about 70% of Master the Boards, once (I was hoping to read it through 100% twice – never happened as no time!)

3. Day 11:

This was 2 days before my Step 2 CK exam. Judging from how I was performing better on UW Qbank compared to my previous Step 1 prep, I was reasonably confident I knew enough to pass. To be certain, I took the NBME Comprehensive Self-Assessment Form number 2. Scored 390, which is equivalent to 204 on USMLE (pass = 189)

4. Day 12:
I picked up my First Aid for Step 2 CK for the first time. I read through the High Yield summary tables/section and images at the end of the book, twice. I found that it was very useful, especially for reminding me about statistical formulas, etc.


I took Step 2 CK on 26th of September 2011.

It wasn’t as tough as Step 1, but it wasn’t easy by any means and certainly seemed more difficult to me than NBME or UW Qbank. I was certain I had scored lower than NBME self-assessment, and wasn’t actually 100% sure about passing.

As it turns out, I scored 206/86 (pass 189/75). Exactly what I needed.


You probably already know that Step 2 CK is much easier than Step 1. I revised for 12 days, rather than 54 days for Step 1, or 17 days for Step 2 CS. I think the advantage (if there is one!) of me cramming all the exams within a 3-month period is that I still retained some relevant clinical knowledge from the previous exams. That definitely helped.

If I had 10 extra days to read through Master the Boards 100%, twice, I’m sure I would’ve scored significantly higher. As it turned out, I only read about 70% of it, once. I did NOT use 95% of First Aid for Step 2 CK, because I thought there was too much information in there for what I needed (to pass after 12 days of studying).

I hope everyone who is about to embark upon Step 2CK can glean something useful from my experience. Specifically, regardless of what score you are aiming towards, you can at least be confident of pass with less than 2 weeks of solid and very focused studying. You can then extrapolate how much extra time you’d need to get a high score.

Good luck!
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