How much do rads programs directors care about step 2?

Discussion in 'Radiology' started by dafade, Nov 25, 2010.

  1. dafade

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    Hey all...The question is in the title! Took step 2 yesterday and although I felt ok walking out, I can't help but wonder what would happen if I ended up scoring substantially lower than I did on step 1. No one has asked about step 2 on any of my interviews so far, but does anyone know if it's common for programs to ask for the score before they rank applicants? If the score isn't so great I figured maybe I could play the "don't ask don't tell card" haha. Any insight would be appreciated as I've heard mixed things about this.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Some programs do care. I know UCSF requires it to rank, and I have been asked about it at every interview so far. I'm pretty sure most programs don't care, so if you don't like your score you don't have to submit it. However, you cannot selectively submit your scores (ie. can't only submit to UCSF, if you submit it to one program, it goes to all programs I believe).
     
  3. LuckyST

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    UCSF only requires it to rank because this is the rule of the institution- it has nothing to do with the rads department specifically.

    From what I understand, if you did well on Step 1, your Step 2 score will usually not be scrutinized unless it is significantly lower (e.g. more than 20 points) than your step 1.
     
  4. fun8stuff

    fun8stuff *hiding from patients*
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    I didn't take it until middle of January after interviews. The only time I was asked about it was at TY interviews. I had talked to PDs/coordinators/chief residents from a handful of programs who all said it didn't really matter unless you totally bombed it. It's kind of unfortunate for those who bomb step 1, but siginifcantly improve on Step 2.
     
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  5. RisingSun

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    FWIW, I took step 2 CK and CS in July. Though I was kind of sweating bullets right before both scores came out, I think that having passing scores on both of these before applications went out has helped. There is a lot of parity among rads applicants, and from a program's point of view, knowing that an applicant has passed both step 2 tests and will not have issues with these in the future I think adds a level of security to interviewing and ranking an applicant. It is also nice not having to study for and try to schedule these tests during a busy interview season. What if you get an interview from your dream program and it happens to fall on or around the day that you have either of these tests scheduled? It is not easy to reschedule either the tests or an interview.

    The key is getting a score that is not significantly below your step 1. In general, is failing step 2 an issue with rads applicants? No. But I am sure that it does happen, and programs may want to know that that will not be a problem for you. And given the parity among applicants, for better or worse step 2 can serve as another metric for comparison. Given two similar applicants, I would think that the one who passed both steps already would have some advantage. But that is just speculation. Other than UCSF, I don't think that there are any programs that require you to pass step 2 before rank time.

    HTH.
     
  6. Pontifex Maximus

    Pontifex Maximus Rads-a-palooza
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    Hard to say, I hope mine helped as I significantly scored higher and probably garnered a few extra interviews, but I'd think in general they don't care that much.
     
  7. C5toC9

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    How much work is involved in studying for Step 2? Studying for Step 1 is constantly talked about, but I never hear much about Step 2.
     
  8. LuckyST

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    There's an easy way to remember: "2 months, 2 weeks, #2 pencil."

    2 months for Step 1.

    2 weeks for Step 2.

    #2 pencil for Step 3.
     
  9. Pontifex Maximus

    Pontifex Maximus Rads-a-palooza
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    I took a month off to take it cause I wanted to significantly improve, and I did. For me it was worth 4 weeks.
     
  10. PokerDoc

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    I have internal med as my last rotation of third year. I heard the shelf was a mini step 2. Should I schedule step II immediately after my shelf so I only have to study once?
     
  11. LuckyST

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    Not immediately. I would give yourself maybe a week of dedicated study time, as you will need to re-learn Peds and Obgyn (which are very heavily tested on Step 2), as well as Psych, Neuro, etc.

    Also: if you did well on Step 1, it is risky to take Step 2 early, as you really can only hurt yourself (a great score won't help you much, but a poor score can hurt you a lot).
     
  12. quietude

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    Talking to some of my fellow applicants has reminded me I inadvertently got lucky in what month I took my Step 2, which was more stuck due to my schedule.

    Four of us were fairly similar on paper with Step 1 239-245, but I was the only one who took Step 2 early at the end of July. All of us had a 15+ improvement but mine was the only score back by the time I submitted my ERAS. Several PDs have commented on it favorably at interviews, so I guess it helped.

    I don't know if I ended up with better interviews because of it but my three friends were discussing over the break how they expected to see a bump in their invites when they released their Step 2s in late October, early November. Almost all of their invites post-Step 2 release were smaller programs they had expected anyway.

    So don't take it early if you have an awesome score, but if you are in the 235-240 range and think you can do better you should try to have it back by end of September so that committees get a chance to see it. After that it doesn't seem to make much of a difference so you might as well take it as late as you can.

    But all things considered, the four of us still seemed to end up with the same interviews.
     
  13. PistolPete

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    Out of curiosity, how many interviews do you and/or your friends have at this point (ball park)? Any regional bias?
     
  14. PokerDoc

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    like i mentioned in another thread, i got a 229/99, I think its imperative that I take it before applications go out.
     
  15. fun8stuff

    fun8stuff *hiding from patients*
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    a 229 is a 99 nowadays?
     
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  16. quietude

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    We're ranging 15-25. Don't think it's regional bias. I applied somewhat locally, one kid applied bi-coastal, someone else applied Southern to mid-Atlantic, and the last has his heart set on New England.

    Other than a decent Step 2, nothing particularly outstanding on my application. I think I'm an average applicant and I've been lucky to get as many as I have.

    Hope your season's been going well.
     
  17. quietude

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    Sorry to post twice in a row in a thread, but I just saw this after my first post. I don't aggregate thread info and didn't know your score earlier.

    It's still a solid score, if not a standout one. Plenty of people match comfortably with similar. And you're in a good place where topping it by more than 10 points is doable with a little work. I'd take 3-4 weeks* and pace yourself. You'll find you'll take more breaks and not be able to buckle down as much as you could for Step 1, that's fine.

    Of all my classmates last year the only two who took Step 2 directly after their third year miniboard were on their psych rotation. They had plenty of time to study during that rotation and, let's be honest, the psych miniboard is pretty easy. The medicine shelf is a beast and it's better for you to make sure you honor the shelf and the class than potentially dilute your step score and your shelf score by studying for both simultaneously.

    If your school will let you, take July or August off or schedule a super-easy rotation and study for it then. You're applying to rads, away rotations aren't required like they are for medicine, surgery, etc.

    *I know plenty of people who managed to hit 240+ on their Step 2 with < two weeks of quick review, so adjust according to your own style
     
  18. PokerDoc

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    3-4 weeks is reasonable.. I guess I sort of meant this when I said immediately. Our school does give us a study month if we wish to use it before starting 4th year. I was planning on taking that month to take a week off and then study 3 weeks. I was thinking of buying the doctors in training step 2 course too.. only because I used it for step I and even if the material he teaches can be found elsewhere, I found myself getting alot more done with the structure of a course rather than left to my own devices.
     
  19. Pontifex Maximus

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    I don't think so. My Step 1 was 228 and that wasn't a 99, so I doubt 229 is.

    Anyway, Step 2 is a little more than just medicine, though majority is as such. There's plenty of peds and gyn to annoy you. Also some very basic surgery stuff.
     
  20. PokerDoc

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    I can assure you it is, because that is my score

    shrug, does the two digit score even mean anything?
     
  21. dbbmd

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    I think taking step 2 has helped my application. I took it at the beginning of Sept so it wouldn't automatically update if I didn't feel it would help my application. I did get a lot of interview invites after resubmitting it through ERAS in early October, but I don't know if I would've gotten those without the score. The best prep for step 2 is to do well on the shelves. Let that be your guide to how much you'll need to study. I took an nbme practice when I finished 3rd year and was within 5 pts of where I wanted to be, so I didn't put in too much time (8 days of dedicated UW plus one month of doing 1 question set a day during a 4th year rotation). This is a test you can really knock out of the park if you want to (some people study for a solid month to do this). Remember the average is a 230 (almost 9 pts higher than Step 1).
     
  22. Pontifex Maximus

    Pontifex Maximus Rads-a-palooza
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    Not really. Foreign grads and carib people like to use it for whatever reason.
     
  23. VenusLux

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    Regarding Step 2 Scheduling:

    Some things to consider:
    1-Feels great getting it over with early; feels awful to be studying later (no matter how tired you feel in July, you can actually feel more tired several months later).

    2-You can take it early--? mid August--and still have your score come out after Sept 1, allowing you to release it relatively early but giving you control over releasing it. Right now, it seems that it takes 3 weeks for a score to be released.

    3-Distractions: July & August, when people are writing personal statements, working on their application, worrying about LoRs. Sept-Nov, checking email for interview invites and trying to schedule interviews, book flights, etc. Nov-Jan, interviews and travel.
     
  24. Labslave

    Labslave Senior Member
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    Terrific advice.

    FWIW, I took my step 2 early to get it out of the way and went up by about ten points. It wasn't mentioned on a single radiology interview, but did come up on one TY interview. When it was pointed out, my interviewer said, "Wow, you only went up by 10 points on Step 2. Most people go up by about 20." :confused:

    Moral of the story is that if you did well, it can probably only hurt you unless you're interested in a few select programs (UF, UCSF).

    Nevertheless, it was still really nice to have it done and out of the way early.
     
  25. meister

    meister Senior Member
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    Are there a lot of rads programs that require step 2 like UCSF or is it the only one?


    The two digit score is the probability that you'd pass the exam if you took it again.
     
  26. badasshairday

    badasshairday Vascular and Interventional Radiology
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    Anyone have advice about when I should take Step 2? I scored 250 on Step 1. Sort of worried about doing worse on Step 2, because I studied my balls off for my Step 1 score, and it just feels hard to be able to buckle down like that again. I've asked many people, and everyone has varying opinions, however I never told them my Step 1 score.
     
  27. 2012mdc

    2012mdc Enjoying the Dark Side
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    Hey man, I'm in a similar situation to you. The best advice (I think) I got was to take it late August/early September. Basically you take it so that the score doesn't get sent out with your application automatically. If you are sending your app out September 1st then you can get away with taking it in late August - your score report won't be back by the time your app gets sent out.

    After you get your score back then decide if you want to send it out to everyone then or just the programs that want it to rank.

    This way it doesn't hurt you if you score a little lower but you also don't have to worry about taking it later on, just get it out the way.
     
  28. Zetterberg07

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    Thats a good plan, but when you fill out your ERAS they ask whether you want your USMLE scores to auto-update any time you get a new score. Be sure you check NO. Seems simple but I cant tell you how many people in my class screwed this up.
     
  29. 2012mdc

    2012mdc Enjoying the Dark Side
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    Med students can struggle with the simplest of tasks lol
     
  30. rdunba

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    This is probably the most helpful thread I've seen in 2 years of lurking.. however, I have one reservation about checking NO on the ERAS.. does anyone else foresee a PD inquiring about why that option was checked on your application? Or would they not see something like that?
     
  31. DrBowtie

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    I decided to take it mid August so that results should be back after Sept 1, but if good I can still release relatively early.

    Any problems with this plan?
     
  32. Zetterberg07

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    I checked no and was never asked about it.
    My impression is that radiology PDs, in contrast to some other specialties, just really don't care much about step 2 unless they have the score in front of them and its substantially different than step 1.
     
  33. 2012mdc

    2012mdc Enjoying the Dark Side
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    Only issue is that you have to make sure you don't take it too early. A date like August 15 or 16th would put the 3rd Wednesday after the test at August 31st so it might sneak in there. I'm not sure
     
  34. DrBowtie

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    Thanks for that point. I'll schedule it a bit later if 3 weeks is the current timeframe.
     
  35. LuckyST

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    Here is my perspective on this:

    I used to think that Step 2 didn't matter. I did well on Step 1 (~265), and was told by all of my advisors to wait before taking Step 2. So I took Step 2 in late October.

    I got my score back right in the middle of interview season, and it was about the same as my step 1 score (3 points higher). I released the score. All of a sudden, at interviews everyone commented on it. They kept saying "great step scores." Nobody commented like this before I took Step 2.

    This may be a coincidence, but in hindsight, I definitely think that it can help to do well on Step 2 regardless of what your Step 1 situation is. The danger is, obviously, that it can hurt you if you do poorly. But I have yet to meet anyone who studied even a little bit for step 2 (myself included), and did worse than Step 1. It's just an easier test.
     
  36. radiologyguy

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    I have talked to the PD of two major programs, and they both told me to wait to take step 2 till after sept. The reasoning was that I would have to jump 10-15 pts for it to be significant, and my score was already good on step 1. The general rule would be if you scored over a 240, and DEFINITELY if you scored over a 245, you should delay step 2 unless you just want to get it done with. Good luck with the decisions!
     
  37. quietude

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    Context is still important. I was from a non-brand-name-school and not AOA. Everyone says that pushing back Step 2 is fine if you hit 240+.

    Based on my experience this year, if you are in the same boat re: school and AOA, 240-245, applying to a competitive city and interested in getting a big name university interview, take Step 2 early and do well. You need every extra point you can get to get across the interview threshold, and many of these places WILL look hard at your Step 2 score when you already are lacking the AOA and the fancy name. 240 is starting to be unfortunately a very average Step 1 score for top-tier programs, and my score (in that range) was called out by an interviewer for frankly being at the low end of what he'd seen that day.

    PS -- Lucky, those are phenomenal scores. No wonder you had such a great season this year. Congrats.
     
  38. killinsound

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    So even if you check no to auto update on that box for ERAS, it will still get released if scores are back before sept 1?
     
  39. 2012mdc

    2012mdc Enjoying the Dark Side
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    From what I understand - if scores make it back before Sept 1st then your Step 2 gets sent with your Step 1. If it makes it back before you send it then you're technically not updating anything, the score is already there and you can't not release it
     
  40. Zetterberg07

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    Thats correct.
     

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