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Jefferson Medical College Alpha Omega Alpha Guide to USMLE Step II: Clinical Knowledge

Common Questions

How important is the USMLE Step II CK score anyway?

A passing score on the USMLE Step II CK is required for all medical students prior to beginning residency. Most students improve on their prior Step I score - although less important than the earlier test, students frequently study hard and ace Step II to strengthen their residency application if their Step I score was lower than desired.

What is the best time of year for Jefferson students to take the USMLE Step II CK?

Some students prefer to take the test right after third year because they feel well prepared and it is another opportunity to strengthen their application, especially if they might have been disappointed in their Step I score. There are usually 2-3 weeks between 3rd and 4th year that these students can use to study. Some students who had internal medicine or family medicine in their last block also found this was a good opportunity to not only prepare for their shelf but prepare for the majority of what they would see on Step II. Other students in the military match also have to take Step II CK early.

On the other hand, other students preferred to take their exam after the craziness of residency applications is over. Still others choose to take it even later (i.e. December) so that their Step II score will not be included on their application. You also have the option to not send your Step II score to programs, but be aware that they might request it later on in the application process.

Some programs do require a Step II score in order to apply or rank a student. Check with your specialty specific advisor and program websites to find this information and guide your decision.

Last updated: March 2013

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