Agraphia Medical Tragicomedy


Studying for the USMLE Step 2 CK

The US Medical Licensing Exam sucks, plain and simple. There are several Steps to getting licensed (If you remember my Zac Facts series from last year, it was a way for me to turn the mind-numbing boredom of studying into something productive).

As a 4th year I'm in the process of taking Step 2, which is actually broken up into two parts, Clinical Knowledge (CK) and Clinical Skills (CS). We'll talk about CS later this year when I fly out to LA to take it.

For now, I've been cooped up in my house and coffee shops around town "studying" 10 hours a day. See, unfortunately any and all motivation that I had during the first two years of medical school evaporated at the end of Step 1. Unfortunately the clock is ticking, as my test date is rapidly approaching. It's of very little comfort that many of my classmates have already undergone this ordeal; it's of littler comfort that residencies will see my score before they choose to accept me or not.

So, with that being said, here's my study schedule.

Books To Use

First Aid For the USMLE Step 2 CK - I loved the Step 1 version of this book and I'm finding this to be just as well written. I can take or leave most of the mnemonics but the content is solid. Make sure you know this one.

Crush Step 2 - Since most of the material is review anyway, it's nice to have a more colloquial style to turn to. Covers a few holes in First Aid, but I'm not sure I'd use it as my only resource. Side note: the paper in this book is much easier to write on than First Aid's. Le, Bhushan, and Skapik should get on that.

USMLE World - Great question bank. I found Kaplan's QBank too nitpicky for Step 1, and so far I've been very impressed with USMLE World. Go through all the questions, period.

Wikipedia - If you have Firefox, get the wikipedia plug-in for your search bar. Instant access to (mostly accurate) summaries of drugs and diseases to jog your memory.

Study Days

7:15 Wake up, make pot of coffee. Wish I was a normal person again. Eat breakfast.

8:00 Review section from previous day. Just do it. Drink more coffee.

9:00 New material covered in First Aid and Crush.

12:00 Lunch. Futilely wish I could find someone to eat with that wasn't my computer.

1:00 QBank. Include all sections you've done previously. 2,000 questions in 16 days is ~ 3 tests per day of 40 questions. Review your answers.

5:00 Hypothetically I'm done. Realistically I'm probably still eating lunch.

Study Schedule

Crush-specific sections are in italics.

Day 1: Cardiovascular, Vascular Surgery
Day 2: Dermatology, Labs, Radiology
Day 3: Endocrine, Rheumatology, Internal Medicine
Day 4: Epidemiology, Ethics, Preventive Medicine
Day 5: GI
Day 6: Heme/Onc
Day 7: REST!
Day 8: Infectious Diseases, Immunology, Pharmacology* (know me!)
Day 9: Musculoskeletal, Geriatrics, Orthopedic Surgery
Day 10: Neurology, Psychiatry, Ophthalmology, ENT, Neurosurgery
Day 11: OB/GYN
Day 12: Pediatrics, Genetics
Day 13: Pulmonology
Day 14: REST!
Day 15: Renal, Genitourinary, Urology
Day 16: Emergency Medicine, General Surgery. Catch up day.
Day 17: Practice Exam, Review
Day 18: Review
Day 19: Exam!

Throw in rest days whenever you want to when planning this out. 2 should do it, probably on both Sundays. Assuming your exam is on a Friday this starts you the Monday 3 weeks prior, with 2 cushy review days to relax prior to taking the boards. Oh, and don't push it back. The USMLE Step 2 CK Score Estimator can help you gauge your progress.

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  1. Why oh why be so hard on yourself? Just use USMLE World in tutor mode and do all the questions. It’s like reading those books and taking the tests all at the same time!

    (Really? Still using Firefox when Chrome is so obviously superior?)

  2. I like the practice and training from doing it timed :-)

    And come now, Lyle, Chrome? Google already owns my email, calendar, reader, news, and financial life. What need do I have for Chrome when Firefox still rocks my world?

  3. I should be studying for my IM shelf exam & need another procrastination tool like I need an extra night of call, but I just found your blog & can’t stop reading!

    This post somehow manages to make me look forward to studying for Step 2. Man, I’m such a nerd. Hope your exam prep is going well!

  4. You forgot 1pm-5pm: Meticulously write out your fake daily schedule in order to avoid studying.

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