How and When to Study for Step 2CK

Each year, medical students contact LAS with questions about how and when to study for Step 2CK. Some are concerned because they have not taken Step 1, or they took it but did not pass on their first attempt.

We know that medical students have uncertainties about test preparation and we understand that the USMLE Step 2CK is important, particularly since Step 1 became pass/fail. With February just around the corner, now is a great time to solidify your study plan and get started, regardless of which exam you take first.

This post includes some preliminary information about developing a study plan for Step 2CK. It is based on the LAS Medical Coaching Model™ which includes weekly sessions for structure, support, and accountability. LAS Medical Coaching™ is backed by 30 years of successful outcomes and metrics.

This is a two-phase sample plan. Phase 1 begins now and Phase 2 begins later. Both phases include pretesting, post-testing, and error analysis. They each have specified timelines, identified resources, and a workflow with measurable goals.

To get started, identify at least one resource for review and one digital resource for practice. Clarify your timeline and set an achievement goal for weekly self-assessments. Study timelines will vary based on individual factors. Therefore, key elements of this plan can be increased or decreased as needed.

  • Phase I is designed to increase your fund of knowledge and develop your test-taking skills. It is organized around targeted learning and retrieval practice.
    • Targeted learning is based on the content described in the USMLE blueprint outline for Step 2CK. It assumes mastery learning of foundational material and accurate comprehension and application of knowledge.
    • Retrieval practice is used to promote efficacy and time efficiency. It includes practice blocks and self-assessments to verify comprehension, maintenance of knowledge, enhance achievement scores, and track progress.
  • Phase II is designed to maintain your knowledge and increase achievement outcomes. It is organized around the maintenance of knowledge and test-taking skills. 
    • Maintenance of knowledge involves practice blocks with previous achievement scores at or above a minimum set level.
    • Honing test-taking skills requires consistent practice and reflective strategies. It combines practice blocks and self-assessments with decision-making techniques

Below is a table with a sample workflow for Phase 1. It includes targeted learning and retrieval practice with an accuracy goal of 75% or above. Don’t let the score intimidate or embolden you. It is set at 75% because this number is statistically relevant for enhancing achievement outcomes.

Table, Step 2CK Workflow, Phase 1.

Questions? Use the Contact Form on the Home Page to connect with the LAS Office. Don’t wait. Schedule your initial consultation, develop your Step 2CK plan, and get started!

Get ahead! LAS Educational Coaches™ provide structure, support and accountability.

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