Importance of Step 2 being higher than Step 1 for Psychiatry residencies?

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7+ Year Member
Aug 19, 2013
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Hi everyone. I'm a 3rd year most interested in psychiatry trying to finalize my 4th year schedule, in particular deciding when to take Step 2. I had a very high Step 1 score (260) but have not scored as highly on my shelves (typically ~80-90th percentile, though as low at 40th % on IM) and kind of doubt I will score nearly as well on Step 2. I know my Step 1 is much higher than I needed and in fact I'm wondering if it will just be an obstacle if I fail to live up to it on Step 2. The fact is I simply adopted a very formulaic and consistent approach to studying in years 1-2 that allowed me to retain information very effectively, and I have not found or had time to implement anything similar to that in 3rd year.

The way my schedule is currently laid out I will have ~3.5 weeks dedicated to study for Step 2. I feel pretty confident I would pass with that amount of time but think I would most likely see a drop or at the very least no improvement in my score from Step 1, based on my performance on shelf tests. I could potentially reschedule it and take a longer dedicated but that might kind of mess my schedule up in other ways.

I'd appreciate any thoughts. I know Step scores are not emphasized as much in Psych as in many other specialties but I have heard a drop from Step 1-2 is kind of a red flag in some specialties and was just wondering if this was also true in Psych.


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2+ Year Member
Mar 11, 2020
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My score went up 6 points, both scores in 240s, but percentile went down. Matched my number one and had more interviews then I could go on. I wouldn't worry, particularly with a score like yours.