Digital Images Added to the CS Exam


Starting on May 22, 2016,  the step 2 CS exam will be including digital images!!!  During the patient encounter, the standardized patient may ask the examiner to look at a digital image on a tablet computer. You will have the ability to enlarge the image on the tablet computer screen.

The types of images may include: 

  • Clinical Photographs
  • X-rays
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Images
  • Magnetic Resonance Images (MRI)
  • Other


During the orientation you will have a chance to view a sample image and practice enlarging it to get familiar with it prior to beginning the exam.

The Exams continue to Evolve!!!


Category: CS

CS Note Abbreviations

Here is a list of some of the abbreviations that you can use on your step 2 CS patient notes:

Download the PDF

Updated Nov. 2014

Copyright 2014 by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)


Category: CS

CS / CK Dates for 2017 Match

To have your scores back in time to apply in the first wave of the Match starting in September 2016, you should schedule to take your exams by the following dates:




Step 2 CS

For examinees who test from:           The scores will be reported between: 
May 22th - July 16th 2016 August 17th - September 14th 2016
July 17th - September 10th 2016 October 12th - November 9th 2016


Key to success:  To insure that your scores are available,  you should plan on getting the CS done by July 16th 2016 if possible.

Step 2 CK

For step 2 CK the scores are generally reported within 4 weeks, so you can take it as late as mid August and still have the scores available for the opening of the match on September 15th 2016.   Since there are often delays in reporting during this busy time,  it best to be safe and get your exam done by the end of July!

Key to success:  Since the CS is harder to schedule and takes longer to get the scores back, it's sometimes better to get the CS done first and then battle the CK.




Get CS done by July 16th 2016

Get CK done by end of July (best) or the latest by August 15th 2016

Key to Success:  Getting Great Scores is the ultimate key to opening doors.  So take it when you are the most prepared and likely to get your best scores!!! 




Thanks to Dr. Gibu George


Category: CS

The Top 5 Reasons Students Fail the Clinical Skills Exam

By Maybeth Ryan

Top 5 Reasons Students Fail the Step 2 CS:

  • Lack of empathy
  • Minimal focus and attention
  • Time management
  • Questioning styles
  • Robotic behavior

Biggest recent changes:

  • Doctor/patient relationship,
  • Forming a partnership with patient,
  • Relating to patient as a human being,
  • Listening and gaining confidence and trust with patient,
  • Knowing the patient not just the medical illness

Key to Success

Perfect practice - talk to people, be curious about them and get to know them.

Kaplan can help

My Best to you!  Good Luck!! 

Maybeth Ryan is a CS test Preparation Expert and is the Standardized Patient Trainer and Educator for Kaplan Medical at the Newark New Jersey Center.  She is also an accomplished actress and voice over artist. Cool


Category: CS

How to Rock the Step 2 Clinical Skills Exam

by Nicholas Valentino

There are three grading areas for the Step 2 CS Exam and students must pass all three sections in order to pass the exam:

SPE – Spoken English Proficiency

ICE – Integrated Clinical Encounter

CIS – Communication and Interpersonal Skills

The area where IMGs struggle the most is the CIS section  The Step 2 CS is all about establishing a relationship with your patient and ensuring you are working with them through out the encounter.


The SP (standardized patient) grades you on:

  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  • Spoken English Proficiency
  • Integrated Clinical Encounter
  • Physical Exam

MDs only grade on:

  • Integrated Clinical Encounter
  • Patient Note

What are some reasons that students fail the exam?

Students can fail this exam for a variety of reasons including; time management, incomplete history and data gathering, lack of a clear diagnosis, lack of empathy and lack of relationship building with the patient.  SEP (spoken English proficiency) scores and overall issues with lack of typing/Patient Note practice are also common factors.

What are biggest changes to the CS exam over the past few years?

The Step 2 CS has seen a lot of changes over the past few years, mainly around the Communication and Interpersonal Skills expectations.

  • Standardized Patients are now more reactive.  Each encounter will be different.
  • Your score will reflect your individual performance based on the USMLE standard
  • Patient notes also need to focus and support how the patient interaction led to the diagnosis.
  • Kaplan curriculum and cases have been updated to reflect Step 2 CS Exam changes


What are the most important things students can do to prepare for the exam?

Many people are familiar with the term “practice makes perfect” but with the CS exam it needs to be “perfect practice makes perfect”   If you are practicing with your friend and not remembering to knock on the door or wash your hands before you do the physical exam, those habits are going to come out on test day.  You need to train under exam like conditions at all times.

Also, regardless of what you use to prepare for the CS exam make sure you are using up-to-date materials.   Many students fail CS because they are using old editions of review materials which do not meet the current competencies needed to pass this exam.   Do not underestimate this exam!

Comparison of Kaplan Offerings


Dr. Barone and I wish you the best of luck with your preparation!

Nicholas Valentino is a Medical Licensing Exam Preparation expert and Senior Medical Programs Consultant at Kaplan Medical in New York City.  He can be reached at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Category: CS

Important Step 2 CS Information to Download

Here's a list of important links for the Step 2 CS Exam:

1. Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS)  Content Description and General Information 

2. Onsite Orientation Video - This is the video that you are shown before the CS exam.  Watch it ahead of time!

3. Patient Note Interactive Simulator - Here's a chance to work with the patient note before you get there!

4. Sample Patient notes



Category: CS

The Communication and Interpersonal Skills (CIS) will now focus on five functions that the examinee will be assessed on:

1. Fostering a relationship

2. Gathering information

3. Providing information

4. Making decisions

5. Supporting emotions

Take a look at the Assessment List  which gives a little more detail of what will be expected of you to get a passing score.


These changes started on June 17, 2012


Category: CS

New Step 2 CS Patient Note

Make sure to have a good look at the "New" Patient note for CS.  

Interactive patient note that you can practice with:Interactive Patient note for CS


Category: CS

Kaplan's Step 2 CS Live Online Course

Enhance your preparation for Step 2 CS with our exclusive Live Online course — now available from your home, office or anywhere internet access is available. You'll get live, interactive instruction from our expert faculty as they guide you through over twelve hours of lecture and video.

Get step-by-step review of all tested components including tips for exam room etiquette, Patient notes, and strategies for passing the exam. You'll also review video of full-length encounters with certified standardized patients.

Course Features:

  • Over 12 hours of lecture and video
  • Attend four, 3-hour sessions focused on Step 2 CS exam content
  • Submit questions live to our faculty and receive live feedback
  • Vote on correct answers
  • Enjoy the convenience and flexibility of Live Online instruction

Click here to see the Schedule of upcoming classes!

Download a PDF Comparison




USMLE Step 2 CS LivePrep

Succeed on the USMLE Step 2 CS with this comprehensive, 5-day LivePrep program.

With Step 2 CS LivePrep, you'll get in-depth training on

  • Effective physician-patient communication
  • Conducting patient histories
  • Performing a focused physical exam
  • Writing concise patient notes


Through lecture, small group, one on one feedback sessions, and a 12 patient practice exam, you'll receive the practice and hands on personalized feedback you can only get with an interactive learning environment. Our expert faculty and program physicians are focused on preparing you for this unique exam while our professional standardized patients are trained to evaluate in the same way as the standardized patients seen on the USMLE.


Category: CS

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