To Push Back or Not to Push Back Your Step 2 CK Exam Date: That Is the Question

So you booked your USMLE, you’ve been studying using the top resources, and you think you might be making progress, but then this silly guy named Dr. Steve comes around and gives you this great method *cough humblebrag cough* and you’re wondering what to do. To answer this, we have to think about why we take USMLE in the first place… to get a residency.

If you haven’t already, you need to take an NBME or UWorld self assessment exam, ideally after doing four blocks of something else, to simulate the real exam. You should then take that score and compare it to the average USMLE score for 2014 match applicants I provided below for your desired residency.

If you are not within at least five points of the exam average for your applicant type, and your test is three weeks or less away, I would recommend you push it back.

I say this because of the reporting delay, which basically means any test taken after July 9th, for example, will be released September 14th ( to be safe you’ll want to take it before August 20th to ensure you receive it by that date). Since ERAS opens on the 15th, you don’t lose all that much by waiting.

If you scored at or above the average for your desired specialty, I would recommend you stick to what you are doing and do not change it. Changing things up so close to the exam may do more harm than good when you are already near your desired score.

So, what if you didn’t do so great and decided to push it back — now what do you do?

Well, considering you should now have six to eight weeks more to study, simply follow the method I laid out previously:

  • Make a study schedule.
  • Do high yield Onlinemeded (pre-read notes, then videos, then notes again).
  • Then do the corresponding UWorld section (tutor by section, allowing 1 minute per question and reviewing after every 10 – 15 questions).
  • Take a full NBME at 4, 2, and 1 week out to ensure you’re on track and to prevent test fatigue on game day.

Congratulations, you now have enough time to implement the entire system!

Now what if you only did mediocre (5 – 15 points away from the average), but you don’t want to (or can’t) push the exam?

This is tricky, but basically you’ll have to use your breakdown as your guide. Were you lacking in a few sections, while doing really well in others? Then you are likely lacking in fundamentals in that particular subject and therefore should do Onlinemeded high-yield for those sections only. You need to re-do those UWorld sections as outlined in my previous article (tutor mode by section, one minute per question reviewing after every 10 to 15), then go back over your marked questions for the other sections by clicking review and read the learning objectives, bolded words, and graphs.

If you find you are low-mediocre in all sections, then you are lacking in general fundamentals, so you should do high–yield Onlinemeded for all sections then do/review all UWorld questions. You likely won’t have enough time to review all the answers, so you’ll have to stick to learning objectives, bolded words, and any attached pictures/graphs/tables. This isn’t ideal, but neither is your situation, so we have to maximize time as much as we can. Right before the test you need to re-read High yield Onlinemeded notes, focusing on bolded words and then the learning objectives in UWorld.

A final word on how important the specific exam date actually is. In my experience, a better score will always trump a lower one as long as your scores go out before October first. As an example, I applied to forty University programs on the last day of September and heard back from the many of them.

With that said, for cream of the crop, top programs, I recommend having everything in on September 15th, because that could make the difference between getting or not getting an interview, as they typically get so many qualified applicants that they get very choosey early on.

Step 2 CK Match Data: