can you take step 2 without step 1

Can You Take Step 2 Without Step 1 Or Both Of Them?

Can you take Step 2 without Step 1? This post will show you the reasons to take Step 1 or Step 2 first and how to boost your Step 2 score without Step 1.

June 16, 2022

Given that Step 1 is pass-fail, you may be asking: “Can you take Step 2 without Step 1”. The USMLE Step 2 CK is now the only one that gets scored. As a result, residency programs will undoubtedly be more interested in it. Should you take Step 2 CK first if it is the “fresh Step 1”?

Many students are preparing for both the Step 1 and Step 2 CK exams. This implies that we can track their development as they proceed from one USMLE step to the next. While the majority of people have elected to do Step 1 initially, a small number have chosen to focus on Step 2 CK first, with good results.

The matter of order becomes much more critical once Step 1 turns pass-fail. You might always adjust your strategy and aim for a better Step 2 CK score if you had a poor Step 1 result before. The stakes are higher now that Step 1 is pass-fail.

can you take step 2 without step 1

In this post, we will explore the following topics:

  • The advantages and disadvantages of taking Step 1 before Step 2 CK
  • How much do the two tests have in common?
  • Even if you haven’t taken Step 1, here’s how to study to optimize your Step 2 CK score.
  • Is it possible to study for both Step 1 and Step 2 CK at the same time?
  • Finally, we will give you our tips for the best strategy.

Why should you start with Step 1? – Pros to Take Step 1 First

# Pro 1: Solidify key concepts covered in Step 1 before applying them in Step 2 CK

In medical school, the Step 1 material comes before Step 2 CK for a purpose. Clinical medicine requires knowledge of physiology, pharmacology, pathology, histology, and other areas.

Learning about amniotic fluid embolism without first comprehending cardiology, pulmonology, and hematology is a recipe for catastrophe. Yes, “tachycardia, tachypnea, high A-a gradient, and potential cardiovascular collapse” may be memorized. When presented with a vignette, let alone an actual patient, you’ll be lost without a thorough knowledge of fundamental physiology.

Studying for Step 1 initially will enable you to lay the groundwork for success in Step 2 CK. It’s no surprise, therefore, that in every study we’ve seen, Step 1 scores are among the single best predictors of one’s Step 2 CK score.

#Pro 2: Increase your study time before taking Step 2 CK

Some individuals assume that the Step 1 and Step 2 tests are two separate tests. We don’t agree. While some of Step 1 is specific to Step 1, most of it will overlap with Step 2 CK. Do you think you can get away with skipping genetics, immunology, and biochemistry? Guess once again. Even some of the most difficult fundamental science topics, notably in the pediatrics area, might reappear in Step 2 CK.

Students in their pediatrics rotation are surprised to learn that immunodeficiencies, metabolic pathways, and lysosomal storage disorders are still important concepts to remember.

So, what is the difference between Step 1 and Step 2 CK in terms of genetics, biochemistry, and immunology? Step 1 allows for more direct testing of fundamental science content. Questions on Step 2 CK, on the other hand, frequently pertain to clinical applications of basic science topics.

A biochemistry question in pediatrics is unlikely to show you a list of biochemical intermediates and ask which enzyme is faulty. Instead, you’ll see a 6-month-old baby who is having seizures after contracting a viral GI virus. Both deal with identical paths and foundations; the only difference is how they test you on them.

When you’re learning these concepts for the first time for Step 2 CK, they might be daunting. You’ll be able to stand out on the basic science topics that others struggle with if you master these first for Step 1 – and use an effective approach to recall them.

#Pro 3: More time to study and practice the USMLE format

The questions on the USMLE follow a highly unique format that isn’t found on many — if any — other tests. It’s not uncommon to see folks who graduated first in their medical school class struggle to pass the USMLEs. These formerly successful students prepare as they have in the past, but they fail to achieve similar outcomes.

There are several causes for this performance disparity. (Read this LINK HERE to learn more about how the NBME creates USMLE and Shelf questions.) Some of the most fundamental distinctions that make the USMLEs difficult for many people include:

  • The USMLEs use a two-step reasoning process
  • The USMLEs assess your ability to apply key concepts
  • Steps 1 and Step 2 CK are not about remembering a list of facts

It takes time to adjust and master the keys of the USMLEs if you’re used to memorization-heavy assessments. As a result, taking Step 1 is an excellent opportunity to get your feet wet and learn the format in a low-risk setting.

Why should you start with Step 2 CK? – Pros to Take Step 2 CK First

#Pro 1: Concentrate on the more important exam (Step 2 CK) first

Step 2 CK takes center stage now that Step 1 scores are no longer available to residency programs. Applicants for residency screening will have no choice but to utilize it to filter through the hundreds of applications received.

Here are some of the views stated by program directors:

  • When it comes to pass/fail, the majority of orthopedic (89.7%) and IM (69.6%) PD respondents agree that Step 1 will become less significant.
  • In a survey of dermatological program directors, 86.0 % (49/57) said they would put more focus on Step 2 CK.
  • 2% (43/55) of these PDs said they would start requiring all candidates to take Step 2 CK.
  • Step 2 CK values will be more essential, according to 87.8% of internal medicine PDs polled.
  • Step 2 CK will become increasingly crucial, according to 9% of these orthopedic surgery PDs.

You can focus on the more heavily weighted exam by completing Step 2 CK first.

can you take step 2 without step 1

#Pro 2: Step 2 CK is possibly more familiar and comfortable

Another advantage of Step 2 CK is that the content is more known to you. This is especially true for IMGs or those with a weak and/or outdated fundamental science curriculum. The USMLEs are difficult to study for. Microbiology, genetics, biochemistry, and other basic science disciplines may cause you to lose your hair.

The more unpleasant the work, the more inclined you are to put it off. Step 1 may be considerably more painful, especially if it’s been a long time and/or you never really mastered the content effectively. As a result, it may be preferable to begin with Step 2 CK.

#Pro 3: Step 2 CK material can be extremely fresh (You just did it clinically)

Some of you may even be in the middle of your clinical rotations without having completed Step 1. If that’s the case, it’s tempting to take your Step 2 CK when the material is still fresh in your mind. Many individuals find doing things like spaced repetition/Anki on rotations challenging. If this sounds like you – and/or you forget a lot of what you learn after each rotation – you might want to consider taking Step 2 CK before Step 1.

Step 1 vs. CK Step 2  Can you study for both at the same time?

The decision to take Step 2 CK before Step 1 is ultimately yours. Which would I study first if I had to? Given the importance of performing well on Step 2 CK, We would recommend starting with Step 1. In a low-stakes environment, you may study the format of the USMLEs. Furthermore, the majority of what you learn for Step 1 will serve as the basis for a solid Step 2 CK.

But what if choosing between Step 1 and Step 2 CK first is a mistake? What if you could study for both Step 2 CK and Step 1 at the same time? Yes, you may study for both the Step 2 CK and Step 1 exams at the same time.

How? By beginning to study for Step 2 CK from the beginning – but also learning the fundamental science. In other words, you learn the complete range of each disease, from basic pathophysiology through presentation and care.

You’ll be ready for any USMLE if you master everything from basic pathophysiology to presentation/management

For example, both Step 1 and Step 2 CK need knowledge of Von Gierke’s illness. Connect the pathophysiology with the presentation rather than trying to memorize the biochemical pathways for glycogenolysis/gluconeogenesis.

A kid with Von Gierke cannot convert glucose-6-phosphate to glucose because of a glucose-6-phosphatase deficit. As a result, their liver is “stuck” with glucose-6-phosphate. As a result, glycogenolysis/gluconeogenesis would be unable to provide additional glucose during a short fast.

The ensuing hypoglycemia would be severe, especially in children, causing lethargy or even convulsions, especially when cell glucose consumption is high. (For example, a small infant experiencing hypoglycemia seizures due to a GI viral infection)

Does fundamental science aid your understanding of illness presentation and treatment? Absolutely. If you have any flexibility in your schedule, you should seriously consider studying for Step 2 CK nominally while also mastering the basic scientific principles.

Take Step 1 NBMEs on a regular basis to guarantee you pass Step 1. Because there is so much overlap between Step 1 and Step 2 CK, understanding the Step 2 CK content should help you increase your Step 1 score on a regular basis. Step 1 can be taken whenever you’re certain of passing. After that, you can return to Step 2 CK after you’ve passed.

The bottom line

Have you heard the saying “every overnight success takes around 10 years”? In a nutshell, this is how you should go about preparing for Step 2 CK.

So, can you take Step 2 without Step 1?

Yes, you may devote as little as a month or two to studying. However, it is the months or years of preparation that will make the difference. The key to careful preparation is mastery, not memory, whether you take Step 2 CK or Step 1 first (or both at the same time). Mastery of the basic science in Step 1 will, in the end, speed and enhance your CK abilities in Step 2.

Don’t forget to take our free USMLE practice test at Medtutor to get familiarized with the format as well as the questions of the actual exam to strengthen your knowledge and skills, as a result, enhancing your chance to pass the USMLE exam with a high score on your first attempt. Good luck to you!