Monday, February 26, 2018

How I scored a 270 on USMLE Step 2 CK

Hey everyone!

My friend Ammar Mushtaq just got done with his CK and scored a brilliant 270. Here's what he has to say about this prep. Take it away Ammar:

Done with my CK it's a 270!

Kudos to my family , friends, and anyone who was involved during my prep for all the support.

Kudos to the guy/girl who compiled the offline uWorld 2016 (hats off to you!)

Kudos to the guy/girl and members of his/her facebook group who uploaded CMS/NBMEs with answers and explanations.
Update: There was a CMS group on Facebook where IkaN had copy pasted UpToDate explanations for CMS questions. IkaN loves UpToDate and that group was very helpful. Unfortunately, it was deleted by the admin :(

Kudos to IkaN for UpToDate access.

My preparation:
6 months of total prep. After 3 months of prep, I was supposed to give my exam. I had decent assessment scores and IkaN thinks I could've given it then and still scored a 270. However, due to terrible anxiety, I postponed my exam for another 3 months. It's really hard to sleep and poop in the last 3 months xD

I started directly with offline UW subject wise and did it slowly but for once only (for me repeating the same thing weakens my reflex and ultimaltely, I end up paying less concentration). I did not make any notes, all that highlighted on offline UW PDF were basically my notes.

With 60% of UW done, I started doing CMS and NBMES (NBME 7 - 25 wrongs, NBME 4 & 6 - 13 wrongs, NBME 3 - 24 wrongs) with aim of learning and not assessing my self. I did all of them offline and in timed mode.

I read MTB 2 once not to cover facts and figures but to see what Conrad wanted us to think. In the end, I experimented with few Kaplan and Rx questions but soon gave up because of poor wording and because the questions were not designed to make us think on multiple levels as UW and CMS questions are.

I used to Google images all the time - x-rays, physical findings, etc. I think that helped a lot too.

I solved psych, stats and ethics of UW step 3 too. The frustration and anxiety led me to solve step 3 NBME in step 3 groups. I went nuts basically :P

Exam day: 
Exam was a tough beast, it's a mix bag UW and CMS/NBME concepts (DON'T neglect them) - you can not blindly use UW logic for every question.

Time was issue for me, so I missed 3 Qs on exam just like in UWSAs. Exam is all about time strategy and gaining points on common concepts because 15-20% of exam topics are way beyond our reach (at least for me) so all you can do is to make an educated guess and move on instead of dwelling on those Qs.

Stem lenghth ranged from mix of lengthy, medium and 3-4 liners. Devise your own strategy (Mine was to read the Q from start till end), to read the options once because you cannot afford to lose time.

Don't bother about drug ads and abstracts, they will be time consuming and can be tricky so do them at the end of block.

All in all, you will be able to do 75-80% of exam with UW and CMS/NBME.

UWSA 1 > 270 one month before exam
UWSA 2 > 260 one month before exam

Good luck!

Written by Ammar Mushtaq

Q&A with IkaN: I basically interviewed the poor guy till he got fed up of me.

I: For baseline purposes, what's your step 1 score?
A: My step 1 score is 258.

I: Did you revise step 1 before the exam? If yes, what did you read?
A: I did a lot of Googling on the web, Image searches and Youtube studies during my step 1 which  helped me in step 2 as well.

Around 10-15 questions are similar to step 1 but they are doable. FA should be enough for revision.

I: Do you think a big gap in between step 1 and CK makes a difference in score?
A: I don't think so, I had a 1 year gap approx.

I: What makes a 270 really? Everyone does UW and CMS.
A: I did all my CMS and NBME with intention of knowing the question writers perspective and that's really what I think made a real difference in my performance.

I: How many hours per day did you study for the 6 months you prepped?
A: I could not study 8-12 hours per day, at most 6 hours a day, that is why it took me 6 months.

Can you share your study time line?

I did UW only initially. I did it slowly, at a very comfortable pace because first encounter with the concept/knowledge is the one that is everlasting.

With 60% of UW done, I started doing NBMES every week and doing CMS in between. Never make your self slave to the thinking, "Once I am done with everything from UW and books then I'll start assessments."

No, don't do that because unless you know how boards will ask a concept, you will not know what to look for when you study.

I: Besides UW, which sources did you do for Biostatistics?
A: High yield biostatistics is gold building foundations for statistics and I did that during my step 1 prep.

I: Does MTB really help?
A: Yes, I would advise people to read it as it is not a great deal of content to cover.

I: How did the study groups on Whatsapp help?
A: Study groups on Whatsapp and Facebook really helped me but they were very anxiety provoking. Proceed with caution :P 

I: What kept you going on the rough days?
A: The American dream; people like Kanye west, Timberlake, Adam levine, Zara larson etc; tourist spots such as Miami and LA kept; the bond style martini kept me going lol.

And Ammar shared a glimpse of his playlist:

Kanye West - Stronger
This was quite motivating

Friction By Imagine Dragons (Mission Impossible Fallout Trailer Music)
This was recent addition in my motivation list

Kanye West - Heartless
This perfectly describes my feelings right after exam and before the result was out 😂😂😂

Thank you so much, Ammar! :)

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