Applying to Residency: USMLE Steps 2 CK and CS- Tips!!

4th Year Advising Tip - June 17, 2014
June 17, 2014

Dear class,

As you are aware, in order to graduate you must pass both USMLE Step 2 CK and CS.  In order to walk in graduation, you must have passing scores on both of these exams by April 30th of 2015.  More importantly, you need to report passing scores to residency programs IN ADVANCE OF THE MATCH RANK ORDER LIST ENTRY DEADLINE:  FEBRUARY 25TH 9 PM, 2015. Many programs will NOT rank applicants who have not passed these step exams (this is because most medical schools require passing scores for graduation, and, if you don't graduate you can't start residency---program directors don't want to take the chance that they will match an applicant who cannot start on time).  This is why we have been telling you repeatedly that you should take both exams NO LATER THAN DECEMBER 31ST, 2014. 

Now, please remember that neither of these exams are "easy". Step 2 CK has a passing score and failure rate that is about the same as Step 1; so take this very seriously in regard to your preparation. Unlike with Step 1, we do not require that you meet with Dean Goldberg to review your preparation strategy, but we certainly want you to know that you can always go to any of the deans for advice about your preparation. you should prepare for Step 2 CK with same level of diligence that you used for Step 1. 

The passing level on the CS examination was changed last year, and many more students across the country failed the exam on their first attempt than in prior years. Even at GW we had twice as many students fail the exam as in any other year (it wasn't many, but it was twice as many).  So.... you really need to take this seriously,  

By now, you have all taken our practice CS examination. This is very similar to the actual CS exam, but a little shorter. soon you will get feedback about your performance on the practice exam. Those of you who did not perform very well on the practice exam will be required to complete some remedial review and practice before taking your CS examination. Although we know that you will be unhappy about this, you need to trust us that it will be to your benefit.  You do not want to fail the very expensive CS examination, and most of those who have failed in the past have come from the lower performing group on the practice exam. That is why we have now instituted some remedial preparatory work for that group.

The rest of you should plan to study hard for CS. What should you study??  There are several good review books, but here's our basic advice:

1) study common conditions and symptoms from adult medicine, surgery, pediatrics, neurology, ob/gyn and psychiatry.

2) know what questions you should ask and physical examination skills you should use for these common conditions or symptoms.

3) know the differential diagnosis for these common conditions and symptoms and how to prioritize this list based on severity and probability.

4) know the basic initial evaluation or treatment for these conditions or symptoms. 

Your favorite advisory deans,

drs. h, n, and s.

W. Scott Schroth, MD, MPH
Associate Dean for Administration
phone: 202-994-2202 (dean's office only)
phone: 202-741-2222 (clinical office only)
fax: 202-994-0926