Mansi Mandhani – USMLE Step 2CS Experience
USMLE STEP 2CS Experience
Passed , Centre of exam : Philadelphia
Exam Date : 26th Feb 2018
I’m an IMG from India, and I casually started preparing for this exam around 30th January by reading First Aid Step2CK 6th Edition. Barely completed reading the 44 practice cases, but yes, paid attention to the first 80 pages to feel oriented with what this exam is all about. Also watched the video on the official usmle website about how the exam will be conducted!
My real prep started on 9th feb when I started practicing cases with my study partners. Practiced all the 44 FA practice cases around two times with different study partners, over 12 days. (We were a team of 5-6 people and we alternated between partners) Last few days before the exam we randomly did different FA mini cases and some atypical UW cases. The first time I did my FA practice cases, I highlighted all the mistakes I would make in the book and then revised them while doing the second round.
Also, I made a short collection of all the mistakes I’m frequently making, called it “mistake sheet” and revised it again and again till the day of the exam. A study partner of mine recommended making a list of all the DD’s of the common symptoms and revise them frequently, as it would help us have some DD’s in head when we read the case on the door on the day of the exam. Be as critical, open and honest with your study partners, because that IS the big thing about preparing for this exam, not reading cases again and again. Learn from your mistakes, they are the ones that improve your performance! If you feel you are a bit weaker in some symptoms, then practice those cases more with your partners, it will surely increase your confidence. Practicing with study partners, from FA sealed the deal for me!
Patient note : Practiced this every time after we performed a case, made each other read our notes and see our mistakes. Again, I added all the frequent mistakes I was making into my “Mistakes sheet” and revised them. There are many softwares online where you can time yourself and practice the note. In the first 3-4 cases on the 1st day I took time to get used to how to write the note and how to time it, but eventually got better and never struggled with time after that. Follow FA’s style of writing the Patient note, hands down.
On the day of the exam :
It’s very important to stay calm. I was very nervous the night before and specifically spoke to myself about it so I don’t let my fear hamper my performance, and it helped. Take high energy foods like banana, chocolates as they help you. The exam passes by really quickly, doesn’t feel like an 8 hour exam there. I made some mistakes like, forgot to turn off the light during fundus examination, to my surprise even though I never struggled in practice with timings, I felt short of time in my 1st case on the exam day and couldn’t do my closure properly, one case was so different that I could make a single diagnosis, yet, I passed!Keep focused on the time, be nice to people, and feel like you are the doctor taking care of them so do everything you can to make them feel comfortable and reassured that you will help them!
I strongly recommend this exam to be given after you have some US hospital work experience as it makes it simpler. Having finished either of the step exams also adds as an advantage to your knowledge and approach to every medical condition.
A huge shout out to my supportive and honest study partners – Saurabh, Ashwani, Adriana, Gabriella, and Gayatri!
Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments, I will be happy to help! Good luck everyone!