step 2 ck schedule

Step 2 CK Schedule From Successful Test Takers

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One of the strategies that successful Step 2 CK test takers always recommend is a strict, well-planned, and organized Step 2 CK schedule. I understand the rush, the stress and anxiety, and the physical and mental exhaustion of trying to keep everything—academic and non-academic endeavors—at pace and in place as Step 2 CK is quickly approaching.

To ease the worry, I prepared here some information about Step 2 CK, strategies on acing the exam, and samples of the Step 2 CK schedule for your use!

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What Should I Study For Step 2 CK?

what should i study for step 2 ck

Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) exam is developed to evaluate the learnings of medical students gained during their third year in medical school as clerks. The format might be familiar to you since it resembles the one you encountered during Step 1. However, Step 2 CK is more clinically oriented. Given all the knowledge you had in your first and second years, you should know how to apply these appropriately to clinical practice. You will be given a patient scenario and asked about the diagnosis and the succeeding steps for management. The exam consists of a total of eight blocks and each is expected to be longer than the seven blocks you had during Step 1. You might also encounter questions with audio and video clips.

Subjects tested include:

  • Internal Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Dermatology
  • Selected surgical subspecialties
  • Radiology

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How Can I Pass Step 2 CK?

Starting in 2018, the USMLE Management Committee strictly recommends that the minimum passing score for Step 2 CK is 209. If you want to pass the exam, typically you should answer 55% to 65% of the questions correctly. However, this may still vary based on the exam’s calculated difficulty and other students’ performance.

For tips on how to ace Step 2 CK, you may check out my article here.

Step 2 CK Schedules

step 2 ck schedules

Here are samples from actual test-takers. You may also click the link to direct you to the reference.

Sample 6-week Study Plan

With 6 weeks, there is a lot of time to review. Spread out your study plan within a 4-week period wherein each day and a half will be allotted to studying. Use the extra time to read additional review books, re-read First Aid and Board&Wards, or do more practice questions. Master First Aid and B&W by reading them around 5-7 times each.

Sample 4-week Study Plan

Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4
Morning (7 AM-12 NN): FA, B&W-Psych, Rad, and Appendix

Afternoon (12:30 PM-4 PM): Crush, Misc topics in Immuno, Genetics, Geri, Pharm, Rad, Lab, Photo, Si&Sx

Evening (4 PM-8 PM): Secrets, USMLE World 46 random questions, timed. Review all answers thoroughly.


Morning (7 AM-12 NN): Kaplan notes

Afternoon (1 PM-4 PM): Blueprints Psych-read the whole book

Evening (4 PM-6 PM): UCV Psych, Re-read FA and B&W, USMLE World 46 Q + review afterward.


IM-Endocrine. Just repeat the drill. For example:

Morning (7 AM-12 NN): FA, B&W, Crush, Secrets, Kaplan Notes

Afternoon (1 PM-5 PM): Step Up, FA Medicine-Endo section

Evening (5 PM-8 PM): UCV, re-read FA or B&W, USMLE World 46 Q.


Neuro+Ophtho. Just do the same as before.  Create your own schedule for the day. Read all the relevant sections in the general review books for the subject of the day. Read the subject-specific review books, and back to FA or B&W, then UWorld questions.


For the rest of the days, the routine is technically the same. You just have to focus on a particular topic each day:

Day 5. Cardio.

Day 6. Pulmonary

Day 7. Renal

Day 8. MSK = Rheum+Ortho

Day 9. Heme/Onc

Day 10. GI

Day 11. GI+ Catch-up +ID

Day 12. ID

Day 13. ID+Derm

Day 14. Derm+Catch-up

Day 15. EM+Surgery

Day 16. EM+Surgery Catchup

Day 17. More catch-up+ OB/GYN

Day 18. OB/GYN

Day 19. OB/Gyn+Self-Test (you can use 4-6 blocks of USMLE World or the equivalent in another question bank/book)

Day 20. Peds

Day 21. More Peds

Day 22. Full-length Test (9 blocks) – try to simulate actual test condition as much as possible

Day 23. Rapid Review of everything in B&W+catchup+more practice questions if time permits

Day 24. Another Full-length Test

Day 25. Cramming Day 1-Re-read FA, B&W for Psych, Endo, Neuro, Cards, then practice Q’s

Day 26. Cramming Day 2- Re-read FA, B&W for Pulm, Renal, MSK, Heme/Onc, GI, then practice Q’s

Day 27. Cramming Day 3- Re-read FA, B&W for ID, Derm, Surg, EM, then practice Q’s

Day 28. Cramming Day 4- Re-read FA, B&W for OB/Gyn, Peds, then practice Q’s

Day 29. Last Day of studying- Finish all unfinished USMLE World questions. Try to skim through FA or B&W again. Relax, and have a good night’s sleep.

Day 30. Take the test

Bonus: Want to learn how to study twice as fast? Click here to get access to our free step-by-step study course!

Sample 2-week Study Plan

2 weeks is a bit crunch time, make the most out of your study plan by using the most high-yield books. Forget all subject-specific review books and Kaplan notes. Just use FA, B&W, and USMLE World, +/- Crush/Secrets/UCV. Try to combine every 2 consecutive days in the 4-week study plan above into 1, for example, Days 1 and 2 becomes Day 1, Days 3 and 4 becomes Day 2, etc. Make sure to go through all of USMLE World, and all of FA and B&W. It is best to read FA and B&W at least 3 times to really get it down. Good luck.

Sample 2-week Study Plan

Focus on UWorld questions that you answered incorrectly. Every night, read on Step 2 Secrets. Do a “simulated” full-length exam [i.e. take two practice NBMEs in one sitting]. It’s good to practice test-taking endurance. Concentrate more on your weak areas.

Sample 1-week Study Plan

Uworld (U): 88 questions

Step 2 Secrets (B): read 30 pages

Goljan Audio  (G): during meals,

during 30min run

UWorld (U): 132 questions

U: 88 questions

B: read 30 pages

G: during meals, during 30min run

U: 132 questions


U: 88 questions

B: read 30 pages

G: during meals, during 30min run

U: 132 questions

U: 88 question

B: read 30 pages

G: during meals, during 30min run

U: 132 question

U: 88 questions

B: read 30 pages

G: during meals, during 30min run

U: 132 questions

U: 88 questions

B: read 30 pages

G: during meals, during 30min run

U: 132 questions


U: 88 questions

B: read 30 pages

G: during meals, during 30min run

U: 132 questions

Practice Exam: 352 questions abbreviated reviewU: 88 questions

B: read 30 pages

G: during meals, during 30min run

U: 132 questions

U: 88 questions

B: read 30 pages

G: during meals, during 30min run

U: 132 questions

Kaplan questions (K): tests in weak areas

U: 88-132 questions that you got wrong

B: review the “tips”

G: during meals, during 30min run

K: tests in weak areas

Step 2 CK  

Planning a Step 2 CK schedule varies from one student to another. There may be no ultimate schedule that fits for all. The preparation depends on the amount of time that has elapsed after the completion of the clerkship and if you are currently on vacation or already in your fourth year doing clinical rotations

Typically, the study preparations range from 1 to 4 weeks. But again, it depends. If you’re on a clinical rotation and trying to hurdle one exam and SGD to another, you might need to start preparing early and tend to study for longer days since you’ll be squeezing Step 2 CK review during your free time—which you won’t surely have a luxury. 

On the other hand, if you’re lucky to prepare for exams during vacations, you’ll have shorter preparation days as you could have an entire day studying daily. Never take vacations for granted. Skip the procrastination and focus on the goal. 

Generally, Step 2 CK schedule is the same as Step 1 wherein you alternatingly answer question blocks and sections after reading reference books. Make sure you’ve read most topics at least once. Step 2 CK will be more intense than Step 1 so you better stick to your schedule and prepare well to face whatever questions they will throw at you. 

On top of planning an efficient study schedule for Step 2 CK, here are 5 tips for Step 2 CK you need to know! If you have liked this video, make sure to drop by our Youtube channel and hit that subscribe button!

Step 2 CK Break Strategy

As I mentioned earlier, Step 2 CK is a one-day examination with a total of 8 blocks. To be honest, the experience will be mentally draining since you are given an entire day answering and analyzing difficult exam questions you have prepared for weeks. 

Thus, it is really important to strategize on using your breaks to make the most out of the limited 45-minute break time during exam day. Here are some tips from successful test-takers themselves:

  1. Bring a carb-rich lunch such as snack bars. 
  2. Never eat a full meal, otherwise, you might put yourself in a food coma.
  3. Drink coffee if you must to awaken your senses, but never take too much caffeine.
  4. You may opt to take quick naps if this sounds helpful for you. 
  5. If you finish earlier than the allotted time per section, keep yourself from going back and checking your answers. Perhaps, there are some that you might want to recheck but keeping yourself from rechecking saves some mental stamina. Use the remaining minutes instead of as an additional time for a break. 
  6. Skip the tutorials. Use that time instead to start answering. As long as you confirmed that your headphones work, then you’re good to go. This is an additional 10 minutes for your break time.
  7. Some may find listening to music invigorating and refreshing for the brain. 
  8. Do some stretching. Swing your arms, stomp your feet, rotate your neck.
  9. Walk yourself to the restroom.
  10. If you seem to be losing focus on doing 2 consecutive blocks in a row, don’t force yourself on the next one. Have a 5-15 minute break to freshen up if you happen to have more break times left. 

Bonus: Want to learn how to study twice as fast? Click here to get access to our free step-by-step study course!

FAQs About Step 2 CK Schedule

faqs about step 2 ck schedule

When Should I Take Step 2 CK?

Like the Step 2 CK schedule, the time when to ideally take the exam varies per student. 

Some prefer taking the exam right after their third year with a fresh memory. Those who took internal medicine as their last rotation will most likely be confident to take Step 2 CK right away. They usually use the 2-week break period 3rd and 4th year to study.

But others wouldn’t want the risk and take some time instead to shape up for the exam and get a strong result for their residency application. This is more likely for students who think their Step 1 score is not good enough. Students usually take the exam during the first few months of 4th year.

How Long Does Step 2 CK Take?

Step 2 CK is a one-day examination administered in a 9-hour testing session. There are a total of 8 blocks with a 60-minute time allotment for each. Each block has a total of 40 questions or less with total questions of 318. It also includes a maximum of 45-minute break and an optional 15-minute tutorial.

How Many Times Can You Take Step 2 CK?

Starting January 1, 2012, examiners may take the test no more than 3 times within 12 months. The fourth and subsequent attempts must be at least a year after your first attempt and 6 months after your third attempt. 


First attempt: January 12, 2013

Second attempt: April 12, 2013

Third attempt: September 12, 2013

Fourth attempt: March 12, 2014  

For some helpful tips on acing Step 2, you may check my articles on how to study for Step 2 CK and Crushing Clinicals for some strategies on how to crush Step 2 CK on the first try. 

Is UWORLD Enough For Step 2 CK?

Some students would say yes, UWorld is enough. They usually fit UWorld questions during their 2-week study period. Still, it’s also important to note that not everyone could complete UWorld due to the lack of time. So, don’t be frustrated and get overstressed if you happen not to since it’s unnecessary to finish all questions at once. What matters is that you think that you are improving. If you are thinking of other question banks to try aside from UWorld, you may also check USMLEWorld and Kaplan Q-bank.


Stick to your planned Step 2 CK schedule. Your success in getting a high Step 2 CK score depends on your discipline and grit as you prepare for the exam. It might be really difficult to juggle everything but skip the procrastination and eye on the price! You’re almost there!

Aside from the tips I mentioned above, you may also check other resources such as Crushing Clinicals that will be helpful for you to ace Step 2 CK.

Happy studying!

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1. The Med School Handbook:  Join thousands of other students who have taken advantage of the hundreds of FREE tips & strategies I wish I were given on the first day of medical school to crush it with less stress. 

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3. Med Ignite Study ProgramGet personalized help to create the perfect study system for yourself so you can see better grades ASAP on your medical journey & see results like these. 

4. Learn the one study strategy that saved my grades in medical school here (viewed by more than a million students like you). 

Found this post helpful? You may find some of our other blog posts helpful, as well!

Until the next time, my friend…

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