Step 2 Prep: Resources and tips

This guest post was written by our former STL (now graduated!) Kalkena Sivanesam.

You got through Step 1: the most daunting exam you have ever had to study and sit for. You are elated . . . until you realize that Step 2 is right around the corner—and panic begins to set in.

You hear from so many online forums and older students that Step 2 is super easy: you get through each clerkship in Year 3, and then Step 2 information will just be there when you take the test. But the truth is that some students may struggle a little more to collate all the information that they have learned in Year 3.

Fear not!

You are not alone. A lot of students need to create a rigorous schedule to prepare and do well in Step 2. Here is a list of resources and tips that I found useful during my studying.

This one is a no-brainer. You need to complete UWorld before you take any licensing exam (yes, this means you will be giving UWorld your money a few more times before the end of all this). There are different strategies for approaching UWorld for Step 2. Here is the most common one:

    • Start with Tutor Mode, doing system-specific blocks.
    • Go over every answer and explanation, and supplement with videos or review of any topics that are unfamiliar to you.
    • As you get closer to your test date, start working on Timed Exam Mode with mixed blocks of 40 to prepare yourself mentally for the actual exam. 


As you get closer to the test, be sure to go through your statistics on UWorld to see what areas you need to work on. UWorld statistics can show you exact topics within each system where you are performing poorly, which will allow you to some targeted studying right before test day.  

You should be aiming for scores at 70% or above on your UWorld mixed blocks before test day. This is a good sign that you will pass your test with an average score.  

Online MedEd. This is a great video bank that targets clinical management. It is specifically focused on Step 2 and gives you approaches on how to handle questions on the test. I have found it best to watch the videos and take notes in a test book such as Step Up 2 USMLE Step 2 CK

Be very familiar with vaccine schedules and routine screening. These are two topics that get tested frequently, so don’t miss out on the easy points. 

Sketchy. Microbiology and pharmacology will continue to get tested on Step 2, so don’t throw away or delete all those Anki cards and notes just yet. Be sure to do refreshers on the common drugs, such as blood pressure medications and antimicrobials.

First Aid may have been the holy text for Step 1, but for Step 2, there is no consensus on a single reference book that is especially useful. Step Up 2 USMLE Step 2 CK worked well for me, but you may have other recommendations and ideas that work better for you.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what reference text you choose—just have one that you use consistently for reading and note-taking. 

The school provides us with this subscription, and I have found it is very helpful. During clerkships, when you have down time (i.e., when you are waiting for patients or attendings, etc.), I have found going through Amboss questions to be a great way to kill the time. Amboss’s QBank is an app you can download onto your phone, so you can even do questions on the go. Personally, it has made me feel productive without the pressure of committing to a full UWorld block. Additionally, the ability to quickly link to any Amboss article for clarification on topics I have forgotten or don’t understand has been particularly nice.  

Some people find flash cards (both digital and physical) to be very helpful. I recommend making your own cards, especially with questions you got wrong on UWorld. It is a good way to go over the topics you struggle with and focus on problem areas  

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