SDN members see fewer ads and full resolution images. Join our non-profit community!

Step 2 advice

Discussion in 'Internal Medicine and IM Subspecialties' started by anon0308, Mar 2, 2007.

  1. anon0308

    anon0308 2+ Year Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    I posted a similar question in the "USMLE" thread but was hoping to get more informed opinions here. I am an MSIII who has a 205 Step 1 and am looking to match at a decent IM program in CA (Cedars, UCI, Kaiser LA, etc).

    My question regards when to take Step 2. I have heard that the score is automatically released if taken before Sept 1, whereas you have the option of withholding it if taken after Sept 1. Thus I'm planning on taking it right after Sept 1, hoping that the score comes back by late Sept/early Oct. Would this be in time to help me get interviews, or are interview offers made right when ERAS comes in on Sept 1? Would a good Step 2 score even help me secure interviews that I might not otherwise have received with just my Step 1 alone? And lastly, does anyone recommend taking Step 2 earlier than Sept 1? Thanks for reading; I appreciate any advice.
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. mrdowntoearth

    mrdowntoearth Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 8, 2006
    I didn't know about this before and after Sept 1 business. I'm interested in knowing the answer too
  4. gutonc

    gutonc No Meat, No Treat Administrator Physician PhD 10+ Year Member

    Mar 6, 2005
    A fibrotic stroma
    You haven't heard of it because it's not true. On ERAS, when you authorize the transmission of your Step scores (and consent to yet another $50 or so fee) you have the choice of automatically releasing your future scores or releasing them manually if/when you want to. Having said that, there is also a place on ERAS that asks when you plan to take Step 2 if you haven't already. Programs will ask about your score if you interview/rank after it should be available (i.e., if you say you're taking it in Sept and you interview in Jan, they'll ask how you did). If you say you're going to take it in Sept and your score doesn't get released before ROL day, be prepared to answer the question of why you didn't release your scores.

    So you basically have 2 options. Take it early, rock it and release your score automatically; or take it as late as possible given the requirements (if any) of your school. My program required us to take it by 1/31 and I took it on the 30th. Other places only require you to sit for Step 2 before graduation. I got my score sometime b/w Match Day and Graduation and, at that point, as long as you pass, the score doesn't matter (unless you're shooting for Cards @ Duke, etc).

    All of this is pretty much moot for IMGs as they are, for all intents and purposes, required to have Step 2 completed b/4 getting interviews (and definitely b/4 ROL due date).

    As to the OP, if you want a competitive residency spot (and if you're not already a student in California) you'll need to have good Step scores to separate you from the crowd when applying to CA residency programs. IIRC, a low 200s score (why don't people use the 2-digit score? makes more sense and is reproducible from year-to-year) is at or below the magical "85" cut-off that many of the better programs use as their initial screening tool. When you get 800 apps for 50 spots, you have to use something as a first pass filter, so most programs will sort applicants by Step (1 and/or 2) scores and draw a line somewhere (Hopkins et al probably draw it above 90, midwest community programs probably 80 or so). Everyone above that line gets a more thorough evaluation and possibly an interview. People just below that line get put in the "Plan B" file and anyone well below the line gets put in the "round file." So to ensure that you fall above the line at SoCal programs (which, on the whole, tend to be competitive out of proportion to the actual quality of the program simply b/c so many people want to live there), you probably need to take Step 2 sooner and kick it's ass.

    Good luck.
  5. mcindoe

    mcindoe 7+ Year Member

    Nov 13, 2004
    i'd like some advice concerning step 2. step 2-CS, to be specific.

    i keep having recurrent thoughts that the person responsible for coming up with all of the TSA airport regulations, like being forced to remove my shoes, having to put my toiletries in a zip-lock bag, and confiscating my unopened contraband can of diet coke is the same intellectually-destitute idiot who came up with the idea of charging medical students $1000 to spend (waste) a day taking a mandatory test that 98% of us pass; the 2% who fail are probably just FMGs who don't speak a word of English or students who could only last until the 4th "patient encounter" before developing a sudden onset of yawning attacks, bilateral eyelid ptosis, uncontrollable head bobbing, and other symptoms that put them at risk of becoming tragically bored to death.

    i keep thinking, who else could come up with such frivolous, useless, and expensive ideas and have the power to make them mandatory? how many people could be so ridiculous yet genius at the same time? i'm thus convinced that both the TSA rules and the step 2 CS exam were created by the same person. and that person deserves a colonoscopy without be performed by an intern post-call who's never seen nor handled a colonoscope before, who forgot to bring any lube, has really cold hands, and a resting tremor.

    so, i need your i losing my mind?
  6. Chloe76


    Nov 15, 2006
    Actually, the OP is correct.

    The issue with taking Step 2 early is that if the test is scored before September 1st (which is the earliest you can transmit your application and thus your USMLE transcript) both scores will be released to programs automatically--i.e. you cannot separate out the step 1 score from the step 2 as both become a part of the initial official transcript. Taking it slightly later (either after you submit the initial transcipt or slightly before--when your second score has not yet been reported), gives you the option of re-releasing the step 2 in a "second" transcript at a later date. You then, of course, have the option of this being automatically done or not. Hope this helps.
  7. anon0308

    anon0308 2+ Year Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    OK, based on the above info, you CAN withhold the score after Sept 1. But taking it in Sept or Oct will result in one receiving his score before interview season. When asked during interviews about it, one would thus be obligated to release his score, or admit that he doesn't want to release it because he didn't do well. Because of this, one should either take it early and have it show up Sept 1, or take it late and not have it be a factor during interviews/ROLs. Did I get the record straight?

    Given that this is correct, would my getting a good (220+) Step 2 score even help me secure interviews? Or does my Step 1 preclude me from the start no matter how I do on Step 2? I understand that there are Step 1 cutoffs like the above-poster mentioned. But if I'm below that line at certain schools, will Step 2 do me any good? Conversely, if I'm above that line, how much would a good Step 2 score add to my application? I know every little bit helps, but if Step 2 really is not a big deal, I'd rather spend my time buffing up my app with other stuff like research. Thanks very much for the help.
  8. reallyanon

    reallyanon 2+ Year Member

    Dec 2, 2006
    I might be wrong on this but I believe that most programs that use an ERAS filter will filter based on Step1 not Step2 scores. If this is the case then maybe you should just spend your time working on the rest of the application.

    Interviewer: so tell me about your research or activities you enjoyed outside of school.
    Applicant: Well, I did better on my step2 than my step1. does that count? (Applicant falls to his knees in a plaintive position) Please pretty please let me come to California for residency.

    I was asked about my non-existent step 2 score at 1/14 programs I interviewed at and these were what is considered on SDN to be the top programs some of which were in California. I think what is done is done in terms of cutoffs. I personally think it is too much of a gamble to take step2 prior to sept 1st. If you bomb it, then you are really screwed.
  9. tum

    tum don't call it a comeback 10+ Year Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  10. labrynth79

    labrynth79 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 12, 2001
    la jolla, ca
    Scores aren't everything.

    If you are interested in a program, regardless of your Step 1 score, I suggest doing an away rotation at the program. It doesn't necessarily have to be a Sub-I; both of my away rotations were consult months. If you do well while you are there, take initiative, and actively participate (ie, look up info on your own, read about your patient's diseases, present literature to the team...basically be a great student), then likely you have an excellent chance at matching to the program.

    My Step 1/Step 2 scores aren't that great either, but I ended up getting interview offers from some stellar programs. Granted, I did take out between 3rd/4th year for an MPH, so that always helps my application. However, I think that programs like Cedar Sinai, Harbor-UCLA, Kaisers, etc look at the entire application rather than scores alone. My 2 cents based on experience.

    FYI, at my medical school, we are required to take Step 2 within 3 months of finishing 3rd year. I really liked that rule.

    Other advice? (1) Turn out a good application and personal statement! Also, your LORs make a large difference, so try doing well during your Medicine rotation and Sub-I. (2) Everyone's advice is just that - advice. None of us have the absolute answer because, like with all application processes, there is none!

    Good luck! :)
  11. LilGeezy

    LilGeezy Banned Banned

    Mar 9, 2007
    ATL son...
    i really hope not to offend anyone with this post, my intentions are to help others that have been in my place

    listen up guys, my advice for Step 1 is to do well enough so you don't have to match into internal medicine (omg, scary!)

    if you already messed up on it . . . find yourself a used time machine fool

    Lil G$

Share This Page