Preparing for the USMLE exam requires a well-structured study plan. The USMLE Step 2 CK assesses medical graduates and students on their ability to apply clinical knowledge to patient care scenarios. The exam covers a range of medical disciplines.

This guide provides a comprehensive USMLE step 2 CK study plan, which optimizes your preparation, improves your clinical reasoning skills, and increases your chances of success on test day.

What Is The Step 2 CK Examination?

The Step 2 CK Examination is the second part of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and is conducted to check a candidate’s medical knowledge, skills, and understanding of clinical science. It is a one-day examination divided into eight blocks of 60-minutes each. The examination is conducted in a single session of nine hours.

The Step 2 CK requires lesser effort and preparation as compared to Step 1. However, it can still be a tough nut to crack if you haven’t prepared adequately. So, without wasting any more time, let us take you through the complete USMLE Step 2 CK study plan which includes:

  • How to prepare for the Step 2 CK?
  • Which textbooks should you use?
  • How much time will you need to study for Step 2 CK?
  • How to prepare your Step 2 CK study schedule?

How to prepare for USMLE Step 2 CK?

Preparing for the USMLE Step 2 CK requires a comprehensive and structured approach. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you prepare effectively:

Understand the Exam Format: Familiarize yourself with the format, timing, and content of the Step 2 CK exam. Understand the breakdown of topics and the types of questions you can expect.

Establish a Study Schedule: Create a study schedule that allocates daily time blocks for different topics, practice questions, and self-assessment to ensure ample preparation time.

Integrate Practice Questions: Regularly practicing answering USMLE-style questions using question banks like UWorld, Kaplan Qbank, or Amboss can help familiarize you with the exam format, reinforce your understanding of key concepts, and track your progress.

Focus on Weak Areas: Understand your strengths and weaknesses with practice questions and self-assessment exams. Dedicate more time to studying topics where you need improvement and seek additional resources or clarification as needed.

Review Clinical Skills: Refine your clinical reasoning skills by reviewing common clinical scenarios, differential diagnoses, and management strategies. Practice applying evidence-based medicine and clinical guidelines to patient care scenarios.

Simulate Exam Conditions: Practice taking full-length exams in timed conditions to improve stamina, time management, and identify areas for review.

Review and Revise: Review all the materials you’ve studied, focusing on reinforcing key concepts, algorithms, and mnemonics. Consider creating summary notes or flashcards to aid in your review process.

Take Care of Yourself: Get enough rest, eat healthy, exercise regularly, and take breaks when necessary. Try to balance your study time with relaxation and leisure activities to avoid burnout.

Stay Confident: During your preparation, stay positive, maintain confidence in your abilities, trust your hard work, and approach the exam with a focused mindset.

Which textbooks should you use?

It’s quite common for people to use their Step 2 study time to go through all the available resources. However, this can be overwhelming and may prevent you from really understanding concepts, as you’ll be more focused on completing each resource. Instead, it’s recommended that you only use 2-3 high-quality resources to study for USMLE Step 2 CK.

These resources should cover all the important topics tested on the exam and may include textbooks, review books, online question banks, and video lectures. Some popular resources you should consider using are UWorld, First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 CK, and OnlineMedEd.

How much time will you need to study for Step 2 CK?

It’s tough to tell the ideal time that you may need as it depends on the candidate. But usually, it takes around four weeks to prepare for this exam given that there are no rotations. Hence, starting your preparation for Step 2 CK by mid June or start of July is recommended. If you can devote four to five hours for these four weeks, it should be enough to get a good score in your Step 2 CK examinations.

While preparing your USMLE Step 2 study plan, you can dedicate around two to three hours daily in the morning and evening during your four weeks of preparation. 

How to prepare your Step 2 CK study schedule?

Now it’s time to pen down your Step 2 CK study plan on paper. You can take cues from this 4-week USMLE Step 2 study plan:

Week 1-2

During the first two weeks, the focus is on establishing a routine and building a strong foundation in key concepts.

Block 1 UWORLD 40 Questions: Start each day with a set of 40 questions from the UWorld question bank. This allows you to assess your baseline knowledge and identify areas of strength and weakness.
Flashcard Reviews and Missed Questions: After completing the question block, review the flashcards corresponding to the topics covered in the questions. Additionally, thoroughly review the explanations for any questions you answered incorrectly.
7-8 OME Notes and Block 2 UWORLD 40 Questions: Review 7-8 OnlineMedEd (OME) notes covering high-yield topics in the afternoon or evening. Then, tackle another set of 40 questions from UWorld. This reinforces the concepts learned earlier in the day and helps consolidate your understanding.

Week 3

The third week is about increasing the intensity of your practice and focusing on active learning.

Increase UWORLD Questions to 5 Blocks: Challenge yourself by completing five blocks of UWorld questions daily. This will increase the volume of practice and expose you to a wider range of clinical scenarios.
Focus on Flashcards and Questions: With the OME notes completed, dedicate more time to reviewing flashcards and actively engaging with practice questions. Use flashcards to reinforce key concepts and test yourself on important facts and mnemonics.

Week 4

During the final week, the emphasis shifts to consolidation, review, and self-assessment.

Return to OME Notes: Take time to revisit the OME notes and review any information that you may have forgotten or need further clarification on. This helps ensure that you have a solid grasp of all high-yield topics.
Self-Assessment Tests: Take self-assessment tests, such as UWorld self-assessments or NBME practice exams, to gauge your readiness for the actual Step 2 CK exam. Analyze your performance and identify areas for further review or improvement.
Practice, Practice, Practice: Aim to practice as much as possible in this final week. Focus on additional practice questions, flashcard review, and reinforcing key concepts to solidify your understanding and build confidence before the exam.

The Bottom Line

AUA’s Complete USMLE Step 2 CK Study Plan is a comprehensive guide that can help you prepare for and pass the USMLE Step 2 CK exam. By following the plan, you can effectively manage your time, focus on high-yield topics, and develop a deep understanding of the exam material. Remember, success on the USMLE Step 2 CK requires hard work, dedication, and a solid study plan.

So, be sure to take advantage of all available resources, stay disciplined, and trust in your abilities. With the right mindset and preparation, you can achieve your goal of becoming a licensed physician in the United States.


How hard is USMLE Step 2 CK?

USMLE Step 2 CK is considered a challenging exam that tests a medical student’s knowledge and skills in clinical sciences. However, it is considered to be easier than Step 1.

Is UWorld all you need for Step 2?

UWorld is a popular resource for Step 2 CK, but it’s not the only one. To supplement their preparation, students are adviced to use additional resources.

How long should you study for Step 2? 

When preparing for Step 2 CK, the duration can vary depending on your prior knowledge, learning style, and the amount of time you have to study. Typically, students spend 4-6 weeks studying for the exam.

How many hours a day should you study for Step 2? 

During their dedicated preparation period, most students spend between 6-8 hours studying per day for Step 2 CK.

What subjects are on the USMLE Step 2 exam? 

USMLE Step 2 CK covers a range of clinical subjects, including internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, surgery, and other related areas.