USMLE Step 2 CK Experience by Seeta Chillumuntala

Step 2 CK Score: 261

I am not really one to post on groups however I found that previous experiences were very useful in my prep so decided I would share my experience in case it helps anybody.

This was my first USMLE Step. Prep time – 4.5 months

I started off by doing a bit of UWorld. Then I decided it would be best to solve an NBME to gauge my level of baseline knowledge; so, I solved NBME-4. NBME-4 is thought to be the best predictor of score compared to all other NBMEs. So, thinking back, doing this one so early was not such a good idea cause I scored a 203. However here is my thought on NBMEs – I got 203, with 43 wrong and 157 correct. In the real world, I would actually feel good about that baseline score 157/200 however due to the very complex nature of NBME scoring I ended up with that disastrous score. I was very sad for a few days and had some sleepless nights thinking, my goodness! What does it take to get a decent score, how are the people doing it?

I would like to think it was a blessing in disguise to get such a low score; because I don’t think I would have worked as hard.

Nevertheless, I decided to start by focusing on my weaknesses which the NBME score report showed, such as behavioral health and OB/GYN.

I studied for 6-8 hours every day. I’m not one to take any day off cause I find if I do so it then turns later into 2 days off, then 3 days off …

Resources used

 UWorld x 2 (random, timed) highly recommend

 Uptodate  (excellent for searching updated guidelines on treatment and diagnostic tests) highly recommended.

 CRASHes (these are sessions on the Facebook EAMTAR group where a topic e.g. hematology is discussed by the leader asking questions and people posting their answers. I never got to actually take part in the discussions due to the timezone) highly recommend

 Kaplan Patient Safety chapter highly recommend

 UWorld Step 1 biostats/behavioral science/Immuno-Micro

Osmosis online youtube highly recommend. The drawings really helped me remember the topic

I TRIED few pages of the Kaplan books and MTB but I’m not so much of a textbook person

CMS self-assessments for major topics e.g. OB/GYN, Pediatrics the more questions the better (average 40/50)

NBMEs one each month.

Assessment Scores

NBME 4 – 203 (beginning of prep)

NBME 6 – 240 (month 2)

NBME 3 – 248 (3)

NBME 7 – 245 (4)

UWSA 1 – 268 (2 weeks before the exam)

UWSA 2 – 254 (2 weeks before the exam)

Keep enough time between solving them and the exam to read the explanations carefully, because they contain new questions not found in the question banks with lots of info.

Average of these two was my Step 2 CK score.

Exam Experience

The day before the exam – I relaxed, didn’t do much studying, stayed close to the exam center did not want to have the hassle of traveling from home early in the morning. Went to sleep at 10 pm. Woke up at 6 am had a good breakfast and reached test center by 8 am, the test did not start until 9.30am due to the elaborate security checks.

 Block 1 seemed pretty decent, though the questions were not that long compared to uworld

 Block 2 tougher

 Break 10 min – mistake I made was to go out to drink water, wastes your time when you have to go back to your seat due to the repeat security check to go in

 Block 3 tougher

 Break 5 min to deep breathe

 Block 4 Decent

Break LUNCH eat enough and high energy foods

Rest of the blocks I started to get progressively tired and was taking longer to read the questions so they “seemed longer”. I was actually tight on time and I didn’t have enough time to check through all my answers.

I even started freaking out in the last two blocks and had a mini melt down so I took a few deep breaths and said to myself I must finish strong.

I was very upset after exam but told myself I tried my best and hard work never goes to waste.

Kept checking USMLE forums to see if any others had similar experiences, apparently, it is a common feeling.

A mixture of straightforward questions, “have to think for a bit” questions and some weird questions.

The exam is doable but very long and tiresome. But trust your prep and assessment scores (to some extent).

Doubts Solved by The Author

Q – How long did you prepare for?

A – 4.5 months

Q – How many times did you study UWorld?

A – Twice

Q – What are the CRASHES?

A – These are the sessions in the EAMTAR group where people ask questions about a certain topic and others answer, you can see the files for past crashes in the files section of the group.

Q – What was your Step 1 score?

A – Didn’t do it yet.

Q – What is UpToDate???

A – It’s a website about all the up to date info on all the medical conditions like treatment and diagnostic tests etc.

Q – Can I have the full name of the website? If you can share…

A – UpToDate is the name of the website. We could access it via our University. See if you can through yours.

Q – Did you do Kaplan, MTB or UWorld-3 as well?

A – I didn’t do any of those books, I did just the Behavioral Science of UWorld-3

Q – I don’t have enough time to study all these resources…Do you think UWorld is enough? this is what I am focusing on now.

A – Yeah, UWorld is good enough.


A – Just studied hard buddy

Q – How long before the exam you took the NBME-4?

A – 4 months.

Q – At which time points did you take the assessments? Like when NBME-3, 4, 6, 7, UWSA? Thanks in advance!

A – Each one month apart except UWSA which was 2 weeks before the exam.

Q – Please can you tell me how many days/weeks between UWSA 1 and 2 you took them? As most people say, final score should be the mean between both.

A – 2 days apart.

Q – What would you recommend for the final 2 weeks?

A – review UWorld notes especially those marked high yield at the end of the question.

Q – Was step one really essential for such a good score?

A – It would help, but if you haven’t already taken them, you can go through FA or UWorld for Step 1.

Q – Did you do the NBMEs in the sequence mentioned in your experience?

A – NBME-6, 4, 7, UWSA-1 and then UWSA-2 in my case

Q – How did you study from UpToDate? (not referring to access)

A – Just looked through info on topics I was not sure about.

Q – What other resources did you use?

A – Nothing else.

Q – Do you think CMS really helped your score? or would UW and UpToDate be enough?

A – CMS psych, neuro, and med very useful.

If this experience helped you, check out the following:

USMLE Experience by Dr. Lewis Latt – Part 2 – Step 2 CK Experience

USMLE Step 2 CK Experience – An IMG Perspective

My experience with Step 1 (264) & 2CK (265)

December 26, 2017
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