USMLE Step 2 CK Prep : An Overview

By Dr. Adarsh Srinivas

The Step 1 connection

  The first step in doing well on the CK is to do step 1 well and look at CK as an extension of it. Even though step 1 has become pass/fail, it is still important that you try to do as well as possible and understand fully the concepts of basic pathophysiology, microbiology, pharmacology, genetic syndromes, storage diseases, and biostats.

 Also more step 1 content has now started showing up on CK so don’t throw away your step 1 First Aid book!


 The best time to take CK is after you finish your final year of medical school and you’ve had the experience of rotating through major clinical specialties. Never take CK before taking Step 1!

 Ideally, as an IMG, you would want anywhere from 4-6 months for CK

 Caution! Going more than 6 months can make you feel jaded and your knowledge curve starts to plateau and might even start to dip.


 CK is a 9hrs exam with 8 blocks of approximate questions with 1 hr to complete each block.

  1 hr of break time is given which can be split as you prefer between the blocks.


 Boards and Beyond(BNB) and OnlineMedEd(OME)

The best way to get your feet wet with the content material for step 2 is the video resources.

OME videos give you a general idea of all the disease processes and management. The problem with OME is that it isn’t a complete resource and the videos are a little outdated regarding treatment guidelines.

BNB goes into much more comprehensive detail with each system and the content material is updated. Slides are attached as pdf for free if you’re not a video person.

Combine the first pass of Uworld (system-wise) with BNB videos. This will be an ideal start to your CK journey.


Uworld Uworld and Uworld some more!

If you had to pick one resource to get a high score, this is the one.

Doing Uworld twice is always desirable and even if you can’t go through everything in the second pass, finish all the marked and incorrect questions.

The first pass can be done system-wise timed/untimed. The second time must be timed randomly with 40 questions as a proper block as you would do it in the real exam to get into the groove of test-taking.

Make flashcards or notes to effectively review material from Uworld at the end. Readymade Flashcard decks like Tzancki can be used.

Biostats – Uworld

 Uworld provides a separate biostats subscription consisting of 60 questions which cover almost all biostats topics in detail.

Clinical Mastery Series (CMS)

These are subject-wise tests in medicine, pediatrics, OG, surgery, neurology, and psychiatry.

These are 1.15hrs tests with 60 questions provided by the NBME. The 4th and 5th forms in each subject are the latest forms and I highly recommend you do them timed and read all the explanations as those similar topics are tested in CK.


  1.  Step up to medicine – Goes into detail about pathophysiology.
  2.  De Virgilio – Surgery – Extensive surgery resource in a Q&A format with lots of surgical case scenarios to kindle your interest in surgery.
  3.  Master the boards can be your primary book resource for all subjects.   Use   MTB after you finish a pass of Uworld as it is very concise and presented with lots of tables, flowcharts, and bullet points and will be more ideal as a revision tool.
  4. First Aid for Step 1


Divine intervention podcast

If you’re a podcast person this is the resource for you. Divine has episodes on almost all topics in CK including special topics/risk factors. He also covers a lot of the new changes the NBME makes as they keep updating exam content.

Ethics, Military series, Nov2020 changes, Geriatrics are some examples of rarer topics you won’t find anywhere else.

A great way to use this is to listen to 2 or 3 episodes every night before you sleep.


 Amboss is an ideal second qbank if you feel the need to do more questions in your weaker subjects from Uworld. Doing 3rd and 4th level difficulty questions gives you an additional edge and presents scenarios of the same concepts with a slightly different twist.

Practise Exams 

NBME 9,10,11

These are the new NBME exams that were released in july 2021. They are the most representative of the real test. Ideally, you must start doing these tests one month before your exam. NBME forms offer 4 blocks of 50 questions with a duration of 1.15hrs per block.


 UWORLD offers 2 practice tests along with the subscription. UWSA 2 is said to be the most predictive of your step score and should be taken 1 week before your test.

Free 120 has 120 example questions that are highly reflective of the exam.

At the end of the day, all that matters is that you do Uworld completely and the practice tests. Everything else I’ve mentioned can be used based on your strengths and weaknesses and not necessarily completed fully. Don’t get confused by using too many resources. Stick to a few and you should do well.

                                                                                                      All the best!

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