Virtual USMLE Step 2 CS Exam: How to Pass If It's Online

Virtual USMLE Step 2 CS Exam: How to Pass If It’s Online

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Since Step 2 CS has been suspended until at least August 2020, the NBME teased that they are aggressively exploring a digital version of the exam, which would be entirely computer-based and would focus on telehealth encounters. There is understandably a lot of frustration and speculation regarding this teaser but no new clear details as of yet. However, it seems safe to assume that a virtual or digital version of Step 2 CS is around the corner.

The USMLE Step 2 CS is part of the series of medical licensing exams. This exam uses standardized patients to test medical students and graduates on their ability to gather information from patients, perform physical examinations, and communicate their findings to patients and colleagues. Historically, the test has been conducted live in one of five locations around the country to minimize the costs of travel for examinees.

However, with the recent COVID-19 pandemic causing a near halt in travel, and to minimize exposure of both medical students as well as the standardized patients, Step 2 CS will likely take place in a virtual format – online.

In an email to the ECFMG members, the following was stated:

“Prior to COVID-19, the USMLE program was in the very early stages of exploring alternate formats and methods of delivery of the exam, as part of overall efforts to enhance the USMLE. As a result of COVID-19, these plans have been accelerated and are focused on a testing solution that employs a telehealth model, where examinees and standardized patients would interact on-line, via a web browser. Expediting such changes to the exam format and delivery will result in a safe and effective assessment for all involved.”

Everything You Need to Know About USMLE Step 2 CS Going Online

It’s becoming increasingly likely that Step 2 CS will be administered as a virtual exam. Therefore, we’ve put together some important things to know, as well as strategies to follow so you can optimize your odds of succeed.

Step 2 CS Will Still Be Pass/Fail

Even if Step 2 CS is administered digitally, it will still be a P/F exam. That’s a good thing for most students as it’ll allow a bit less stress in an already stressful process!

Being Comfortable in Front of a Computer Is a Must

While traditionally Step 2 CS has required an ability to be comfortable in front of a standardized patient, now the student will have to be comfortable in front of a webcam! That means being able to maintain eye contact even though the exam is virtual. It means having a quiet room to be able to take the exam in without distractions of family or pets.

Approach the Virtual Exam the Same Way You Would the Actual Exam

This means wearing professional clothing as well as potentially your white coat during the examination.

You’ll Skip the Physical Exam

A large part of Step 2 CS has always been the physical exam. However, this will have to be omitted in a virtual exam. You should still brush up on your skills because it’s likely that the NBME will test the physical exam in some way.

Medicine’s Future Is Likely Virtual

Learning how to see and evaluate a patient online is an essential skill for any physician in 2020. Since many physicians have moved to an online/virtual format in their actual clinical practices, if Step 2 CS is administered online, it will actually be more realistic than the prior exam.

How to Study for the Virtual Step 2 CS

You still do have to study for Step 2 CS. Passing will require a knowledge of how to approach a patient online, gather information, develop a differential diagnosis and diagnostic workup plan, and use patient-centered communication. MedSchoolCoach Step 2 CS program is the perfect way to study for the upcoming exam with a tutor by your side.

Watch Dr. Faustine Ramirez, MedSchoolCoach Master Tutor, explain what USMLE Step 2 involves.

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