How to Ace Step 2

For many of you, the answer is “Who cares,” and that’s a pretty valid question. For the vast majority of applicants, the answer is “Nobody.” There are, of course, exceptions to this nihilistic rule.
Among these people, are the following:
1) Your Advisory Dean.
Just keep in mind that your advisory dean is writing a letter about you (and your academic performance) to EVERY SCHOOL YOU APPLY TO. Admittedly, your Step 2 score isn’t really going to make up much of the letter’s content, but still. Why stop now? You’ve been an ace until now… Keep going for a few more months and you’re a sure thing.
2) Scrambling Programs
Hopefully this won’t even be an issue, but let’s just play it safe and think. What if you had to pick a resident based on paper ALONE? ‘Nuff said.
3) Fellowships at REALLY competitive internal medicine programs
For all of you gunners out there, your record will stick with you. Some of these fellowships (e.g. cardiology, pediatric surgery) are a stretch for even the best of applicants. Keep your record tight (like a tiger) and prepare for Step 2.
Here’s how:
This isn’t anything like Step 1, and you’ll actually be surprised at how much you know. The only way to stay motivated and prepare this late in the game is to take mad USMLE questions. Kaplan’s QBank is prolly tops in terms of board similarity, but USMLE WORLD gives them a run for their money, without the Starbucks prices. Stay tuned for, one of our projects for next year. The idea’s simple: free test questions for anyone who adds an original question to the database. Wikipedia meets the USMLE.
So get one of these programs going, and practice like it’s gameday: Long sessions of multiple blocks. Some people think it’s a good idea to “overtrain,” that is, take 9 blocks in preparation for the 8 on test day. Warning: for the hardcore only.
In general, you shouldn’t spend more than a few months TOPS working on Step 2 questions. Most people take questions for about a month, total.
A good way to prepare is to bring some books along on the trail. Here are a few hotties that are quick reads on the plane:
Crush Step 2
Boards and Wards
May the force be with you.

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