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When and How to Schedule Your Step 2 CK Exam

  • by Paige Mauriello
  • Jun 21, 2021
  • Reviewed by: Amy Rontal

When and how to schedule USMLE Step 2 CK now and after Step 1 goes pass/fail to best prepare for ERAS residency applications.

Ah, a calendar year. There’s your birthday, the fresh blooms of spring, the anticipation of summer. There’s that time of year you spend with family or friends. There’s the test day of your USMLE Step 2 CK!

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Step 2 CK Overview

As a refresher, Step 2 CK is a nine-hour, single-day, computer-based portion of the USMLE. But don’t worry, you’re not testing for nine hours straight!

The exam is broken into eight one-hour blocks of at-most 40 questions, with an optional 15 minute tutorial and 45 minutes minimum break time. Any unused time from your tutorial section will get added to your 45 minutes of break time, and you get to use this break time at your own discretion so long as it doesn’t interrupt a block. If you finish any block early, that time can be added to your break time.

Step 2 CK Planning and Residency Applications

No one knows when you’re ready to take the exam better than you do, however there are some timelines to consider. ERAS, the residency application software, starts accepting submissions at the end of June, meaning that traditional applicants are applying to residencies the summer before year four.

Once the Step 1 pass/fail change takes place, it’s likely going to be more important than ever to do ERAS submissions on the day the system opens because residencies start looking at applications right away. So, similar to the MCAT, the sooner you apply the better your chances are. Ideally you’ll have everything uploaded, proofed, and ready to submit the first day applications open.

It’s highly recommended you take the exam before applying to residencies, as the programs will then receive your scores for Step 1 (for the next few cycles) and Step 2 CK. What this means for traditional students: you will want to be thinking about Step 2 CK in the fall/winter of year three. This sort of preparation will help you work toward a goal of testing in the spring, 2nd semester, or final quarter of year three. However, students may begin considering taking Step 2 CK earlier since the majority of programs are planning to require Step 2 CK scores as a part of the initial application. This is simply a prediction, however; only time will tell.

It’s likely you’ll get your USMLE score back in about three to four weeks, but delays are possible so it’s best to allow eight weeks for your results. In the past, the most popular month for Cram Fighter users to take Step 2 CK was July, with June and August coming in second and third, respectively. Though we do expect this trend will shift to spring months with the change in the Step 1 exam coming as early as 2022.

Scheduling and Rescheduling

So how do you even go about scheduling? If you’re in the US or Canada, you’ll follow the steps on the NBME Licensing website here. If you’re outside those regions, you’ll sign up through the ECFMG portal, instead.

Basically, you’re scheduling your eligibility period, which is a three-month period during which you will later schedule your test date. If you’ll need any accommodations due to a disability, the NBME provides some simple steps to follow that can be boiled down to filling out a form and emailing it to them.

Sometimes, studying for the exam is not even the hardest part: it’s knowing when you’re ready and actually taking the steps to book it! While they may not make the actual test easy, they do make it simple to reschedule the exam. If you realize a month (31 days) before your exam date that some extra time would help, you can reschedule free of charge as long as you are rescheduling within your three-month eligibility period.

Even within those 31 days, you can still reschedule, no need to panic! Of course, they add fees accordingly. If you are hoping to reschedule outside of your eligibility period, however, you will have to contact the USMLE to inquire about a one-time eligibility period extension which requires another fee.The cost of the exam is currently $645.

Preparing… with Help!

You’ve made it this far into your academic life, you should feel confident in your ability to build a study schedule that is right for you. Still, it’s always helpful to learn from others, and we’ve got the data! On average, Cram Fighter users spent 73.5 days studying for Step 2 CK. You can even see the most common resources those users used to prepare for the wide range of topics covered on Step 2 CK including internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, preventive medicine, psychiatry, surgery.

The fact you’ve even made it to the end of this article means you’re working hard and taking steps to prepare yourself for what lies ahead. You should be proud of yourself! We sure are, and we’re here to help you build a study schedule to keep you on track. Cram Fighter lets you create a detailed plan quickly and easily adjust or rebalance your daily study tasks as needed.

You can try Cram Fighter absolutely 100% free for 7 days to see how we can help you avoid cramming and stay ahead of your studies. Sign up for a trial account and create a schedule now!