How I Passed USMLE Step 2CS on First Attempt

This post is intended to help those who are preparing for Step 2CS. In this post I will be sharing my USMLE Step 2 CS preparation process and how you can also pass it on the first attempt. If you would like to see my overall profile you can visit My Residency Stats

The part of the residency match process that made me the most nervous was undoubtedly the Step 2CS. In my opinion, one of the biggest flags on an application is not passing Step 2CS on the first attempt and that made me worry.

Step 1 and Step 2CK are only a representation of your theoretical skills. Step 2CS is the only thing on your application which is an indicator of your clinical skills. While externship experience or letters of recommendation may be an indicator but they can be attained through personal contacts and as a result, may not be given much weight.

Practicing Tips:

You should have a partner to practice with regardless of whether they are in the medical field or not. I practiced with my spouse and other students preparing for Step 2CS over Skype video. This helps to overcome your anxiety of interviewing a patient and also practice performing physical examinations. Try to learn and explain your findings to the standardized patient using simple words and not complex medical terms (You are evaluated for that!)

Practice with someone with good English-speaking skills and is preferably from the United States because some of us IMGs may have difficulty understanding an American accent. On the day of the exam the, fear of not being able to understand your patient’s accent can make you nervous.

Typing Skills:

Make sure your typing speed is good because your interactions with patients are timed during the exam. 10 minutes might sound like enough but I felt the time crunch – I was glad I practiced typing before the exam. Try to get to a typing speed of at least 35 wpm. There are several free websites online to help improve your typing speed.

Preparation time:

I took 1 month. Some people say there is no need for preparation,
but I feel it is important to give yourself at least a month to prepare. Passing the Step 2CS in the first attempt is as important as getting scoring well on Step1 and Step 2 CK.

Study Material Used:

  • First Aid for USMLE Step 2CS: I read all 44 cases from the book twice, not only reading them but also practicing them with someone.
  • CSE Videos: Felt like they were based on the First Aid book but did not feel like they affected my outcome much. If you are not confident in performing certain examinations/maneuvers you can find many videos on Youtube.
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4 thoughts on “How I Passed USMLE Step 2CS on First Attempt

  1. Buchi N


    You are doing a great job with these blogs and I want to thank you.

    I am an old IMG (11 yrs) based in Canada. I recently took the Canadian MCCQE1 and is now considering taking Step 2CS before Step 2CK and then Step 1. Please, what’s your honest opinion since I want to get high scores to buffer the red flags on my application?

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for the kind words! The studying process varies from person to person but my honest opinion you should attempt the steps in order.

      Take Step 1 first, 60% of the material in Step 2CK (my experience) is already from Step 1. Therefore it becomes easier to prepare for Step 2CK and also it also helps you in Step CS when you are writing differential diagnoses in your notes and types of questions to be asking during history taking.

  2. Mukesh Shah

    Thanks for the post.
    I am an IMG, looking for the programs that accept cs attempt but rest profile above normal/pretty well. I cannot see cs attempt option in your search list device. Can you please tell how should we find such programs? Thank you

    1. admin Post author

      Hi Mukesh, we are working on adding that option.
      It will be available in July, please check back then


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