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Important Topics to Focus on While Studying for the USMLE Step 2 Examination Whereas the USMLE Step 1 examination consists of multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge on a variety of medical topics, the USMLE Step 2 is a bit different. Here, you’ll be asked some multiple choice questions to test your clinical knowledge (CK), but you’ll also need to work through simulated cases to demonstrate your clinical skills (CS). Here are some of the topics you’ll want to focus on as you study. Part 1 – Clinical Knowledge The first part of the USMLE Step 2 examination is a nine-hour multiple choice examination that falls under two very broad categories. Students will be tested on things like the normal conditions of the human body and the diseases that may affect it, which may include questions on growth and development as well as other basic principles. The examination also focuses on physician tasks, including things like preventative medicine, the mechanisms of diseases, how to diagnose, and managing patients. You will be tested on internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, preventative medicine, psychiatry, surgeries, and other areas that are relevant to providing quality healthcare. You may be asked to provide a diagnosis, a prognosis, or even the next step in a patient’s treatment plan based on the information provided to you. In these cases, you will choose the correct answer in a multiple-choice format. Part 2 – Clinical Skills In the second part of the USMLE Step 2 examination, you will need to demonstrate your clinical skills in a variety of simulated patient settings. There are three subcomponents to this section of the exam. They include: 

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Communication and Interpersonal Skills – Simply put, this part of the clinical skills exam measures your ability to communicate effectively with patients for the purpose of gathering medical history, forming a diagnosis, and demonstrating medical ethics. Spoken English Proficiency – This is a measurement of your ability to speak and comprehend the English language fluently. It is a required part of the USMLE examination for any aspiring physician from any country. Integrated Clinical Encounter – This is a measure of your ability to properly examine and diagnose a patient, then provide the right treatment option and/or prognosis.

These encounters are with real people who will mimic the signs and symptoms of a condition, injury, or illness. It will be up to you to gather information from that patient to come up with a differential diagnosis and work-up plan, build rapport, perform physical examinations, and more. Keep in mind that you will be unable to take a full patient history and perform a complete examination, so much of your answers will depend on keen observation and knowledge of materials covered throughout medical school. The USMLE Step 2 examination is the culmination of everything you study throughout medical school. It is a very broad and quite generalized pass-or-fail examination that puts you in the doctor’s chair to provide simulated healthcare. By understanding and focusing on the topics listed here, you will set yourself up for success and feel confident in your abilities on test day.

Important Topics to Focus on While Studying for the USMLE Step 2 Examination