Hello and welcome to the Step 2 CS Review blog! For thousands of medical graduates who are hoping to pass the USMLE Step 2 CS exam in the upcoming months, making a decision as to the best way to prepare for a favorable outcome can feel like a daunting task. The stakes for successfully completing this requirement on the first attempt are high indeed! For those of you who have already secured a residency, it may be mandatory to pass your exam before a specified time deadline. For many of you, however, who are seeking a residency during the next year, the reality of having to retake any of the USMLE licensing examinations may present a serious setback – one which can delay your medical career for an entire year!
The most current USMLE pass rate statistics for step 2 cs show that, while American and Canadian graduates continue to pass 97% of the time, pass rates for foreign graduates have fallen from 74% in 2007, to 70% in 2008. And these numbers are actually just the latest indication of a declining trend in foreign graduate pass rates which began in 2004.
So why is this happening? We do know that, in 2007, USMLE increased the difficulty for passing the CIS (Communication & Interpersonal Skills) and SEP (Spoken English Proficiency) components of the step 2 cs exam. It is estimated that these components combined now account for the majority of foreign graduate failures. And aside from the obvious cultural advantage given to American medical students, most now also benefit from curriculum based standardized patient programs which are specifically designed to prepare them for the USMLE Step 2 CS examination. In many domestic medical schools, students are required to pass a simulated step 2 cs examination before graduating, and are offered remedial help when standards are not met.
My sincere intention in launching this blog is to offer useful, exam oriented advice for successfully approaching the step 2 cs, and to also address some of the specific test taking issues and obstacles common to IMGs. Having personally assessed thousands of simulated patient encounters over the past nineteen years (the last eight yrs. preparing foreign grads for the USMLE Step 2 CS), it has been my experience that most CS failures are a result of faulty preparation approaches, and inadequate investment in practice. All too often, we see doctors at our two-day workshops who are retaking the step 2 cs exam because they simply followed “bad” advice. Unfortunately, much of the misguided information and instruction that, in my opinion, is responsible for poorer test scores is being provided by some of the most widely used and “well regarded” preparation sources.
In the days and weeks ahead, I will be adding postings with which I hope to address a variety of topics dealing with the USMLE Step 2 CS and the recommended preparation approaches. I also look forward to hearing from you, and welcome your comments and questions. As you know, there are literally hundreds of different cases which the USMLE draws from for CS examination purposes. For this reason, I would ask that your questions be limited to more universal aspects of the exam rather than to specific medical presentations. I must also request that this forum not be used for purposes of promoting ones services, or for making negative comments about any person, group or institution.