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Taking Step 2 Early?

Discussion in 'Step II' started by keepsmiling10, Dec 31, 2008.

  1. keepsmiling10

    2+ Year Member

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    I am currently a third year medical student and am trying to better my chances of doing well in the match as well as figure out the next 1.5 years.

    My grades during the first 2 years were fairly good and during the third year so far, have been quite good. I have also done some volunteering and have served on student assembly, etc.
    The worst part of my app is that my Step 1 score was not very good. I scored in the low 200's (I have always sucked at standardized testing). I have heard that I should take Step 2 early to compensate and I would like some advice on that.

    I was planning on trying to start doing some studying now in conjunction with studying for my rotations. Do you think taking the test in early October after studying for all of September would be good enough or should I plan something even earlier? Also, any tips on what I can do do improve my score even though I really did study very hard for Step 1?

    What else can I do to strengthen my candidacy? (I don't yet know what I would like to go into).

    Thanks for your help!
     
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  3. radoncadonc

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    Ok, this is what you need to do. I don't post often but I am feeling the holiday spirit, so follow this advice and run with it.

    Study HARD for the rest of the MS3 year. Ace the shelfs and get great evals. Then take the month off after third year and study the crap out of Step 2 CK. Take Step 2 CS at the end of the month as well. Get them both out of the way early. Rock step 2 CK and it will help you compensate for the less than stellar Step 1, but you have to take it early. It takes 3-6 weeks for the scores to come back, so you need to have the score back in time for the mid september submission of your residency application.

    The best way to study for step 2 CK is to study and work your tail off during MS3. Then hunker down and drill CK stuff for about three weeks. You won't need any more time and even if you do I promise you won't be able to keep a strong study schedule like you did for step 1. It is very difficult to study hard for step 2. So, the best way is to devote 2 or three weeks of hardcore work, then take the test, study for 2-5 days for CS, take the test and be done.

    This way your step 2 scores will both be back in time for you to include them on your residency application. They will be available from day 1 and they will hopefully help.

    One word of caution, if you are afraid of doing poorly on either test, you should wait until after you submit you ERAS application, that way you can look at your score before releasing it. If you do it early, you don't have a choice. Just know that almost everyone improves, the curve is easier, and if you study hard for 2-3 weeks, you can smoke it. Good luck

     
  4. troopa

    troopa Senior Member
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    You can also take a year off and do something worthwhile to enhance the resume aka research in the specialty you want to go into!
     
  5. TonyDaTigrUprct

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    anyone study for 2 weeks (purely devoted to step 2) and do well on the exam? or is a month off necessary?
     
  6. keepsmiling10

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    Thanks for the info, radoncadonc. That's my issue though. I realize that the score is crappy. And I can work really hard to make my score better for Step 2 but I can't guarantee it. I had an attending tell me that if you take it after Oct, then you can choose whether or not to send the score. At least that gives me the chance to withhold the score until later just in case I, A, don't pass, or B, still do crappy. I really suck at standardized testing and I am planning on trying to work hard on doing well, but I did for Step 1 too. SO...I'm afraid that if I take it in July, I will still suck, and HAVE to report my score right away. If I take it in October, I don't know if it will be too late but I will have the chance to not turn it in right away.

    Any advice?

    P.S. I would NOT take a whole year off for research. The things I want to go into are not that competitive and research would honestly not help that much to de-reflect board scores. Besides, I can't imagine taking a year off between med school years for anything other than emergency or family reasons. I think it's a poor choice and you will lose a lot of the medicine you already know. But thanks anyway.
     
  7. lord_jeebus

    lord_jeebus 和魂洋才
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    I gave myself 14 days and probably only used about 10 of them. 261.

    If you've done well on your shelf exams, you really don't need much more time than it takes you to get through USMLEWorld, which is Step IICK magic.

    If you didn't do so well on shelf exams, perhaps you would want more time to learn what you should have learned the first time, but otherwise I see no point in prolonged cramming for this thing. It's more about reasoning than regurgitation of facts.
     
  8. winner123

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    When you say that u could not get a good score on step-1 inspite of working hard,then in my opinion u need to do some kind of introspection before attempting step-2ck.
    Do usmle world and learn some test taking strategies.I think a score on UW above 60% should be fine.
    Can do Kaptest as well in order to widen your experience about the type of questions asked on step-2ck.
    It is also pertinent to mention that one's performance on step1 does not in anyway predict one's performance on step-2ck.
    So,my advice to you is take step2ck only when you feel prepared well.
    Good luck.
     
  9. keepsmiling10

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    Thanks for your tips guys! I have been trying to figure out what exactly it is that caused me to have trouble with Step 1. I have been trying to increase my studying by doing more questions NOW rather than later. Also, the odd thing is that I wasn't doing terrible on the Kaplan Qbank.

    However, the thing I must focus on most right now is scheduling it because I need to register for it very soon! Just to reiterate, I got a 204 on Step 1. My M1, M2 grades are avg to above avg and my M3 grades so far have been above avg. I also have leadership and all that kind of stuff & I do think I tend to impress attendings (meaning hopefully good letters of rec). Which again comes down to Step score being my weakest point.
    I know that if you take the test in Oct, you don't have to report your score unless you want to. However, I don't know how it reflects on residencies to see 204 and still have to wait for a Step 2 score and wonder why I didn't take it already. That's what I need to focus on.

    SO...should I take Step 2 in the range of July-Aug or in October?
     
  10. Kasey

    Kasey Member
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    The key if you're worried about releasing an unknown score is to take the exam after eras has opened. You have to check the box to not automatically release the scores. If you take it after eras is open (though maybe it's that you have to apply before, but I think you can 'apply' before having a complete app which should take care of that, you certainly can without letters and transcripts being there, you may have to have your personal statement and all the CV stuff in though) then your scores won't be automatically released. So if say you take the exam Sept 2 and ERAs is open and you apply Sept 1 and hit the box for no automatic score release, your scores should be back early enough to make up for your step 1 scores as many places won't start reviewing apps until at least October (assuming you're not applying to an early match specialty).

    Be aware that you're supposed to record on your app when you plan to take your step 2 exams and hence if you don't report, you're probably going to get asked about it. And some people will just ask anyway and you seriously don't want to lie about.

    That being said, I had a step 1 only a little better than yours and did well on my 3rd year shelfs, didn't study too hard, went up about 30 points and really believe that it helped my application immensely. I was pretty confident about how I'd do though and took Step 2 early enough to have it there when I applied initially.

    One last piece is that I don't think places really care that much about cs. I wouldn't sweat getting that one done super early, though it would be nice to have a passing score in before programs make their rank lists, though in reality it probably won't make a difference.

    Good luck!
     
  11. 153445

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    Definitely take it mid-late July, the latest possible date for your score to be available before September 1. Then for August schedule an elective that will land you an outstanding letter (preferably from someone high up in the field of interest, like a department or division chair, full professor, etc), one that could be uploaded fairly quickly. Remember, Step 2 CK is easier than Step 1. If you have been doing decently well on your shelf exams, you should do decently well on CK. You most likely will score higher than a 204, so you would show improvement. Don't be afraid to take it! It's better to have programs see a trend in improvement rather than hope that waiting until October will land you a 250+. At that point, a lot of interviews have already been handed out in certain specialties. Speaking of interview timing, if you are open to any fields that participate in the early match (urology, pedi neuro, etc), you'll definitely need to have your CK in early.

    Best of luck to you! Remember, CK is easier than Step 1.
     
  12. anesthesiarocks

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    eh...an early october test date isn't really "early"....thats a pretty common time to take it.
     

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