As well as study skills support for coursework, Student Academic Success Services (SASS) at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health provides board exam preparation for medical school students.

Board preparation assistance is available for United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1, Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS. The Student Academic Success Services team can help you create customized study schedules, as well as provide resource recommendations and study strategies specific to board exams. SASS is available to meet in person, by phone or by Skype.

Step 1

The Step 1 exam is a computer-based, multiple-choice exam. Step 1 measures basic science knowledge. Exam questions may test the examinee's fund of knowledge, but the majority of questions require the examinee to interpret material and solve problems through application of basic science principles. Test items commonly require you to perform the following tasks:

  • Interpret graphic and tabular material
  • Identify gross and microscopic pathologic and normal specimen
  • Apply basic science knowledge to clinical problems

The best way to help yourself prepare for the Step 1 exam is to do well in your classes. This will give you a strong general understanding of concepts and principles in the basic sciences. Students should also review information on exam content and test formats available on the USMLE website, and run the sample test material available. There are no test preparation courses affiliated with or sanctioned by the USMLE program.

Step 2

Step 2 exam assesses whether you can apply medical knowledge, skills and understanding of clinical science essentials for the provision of patient care under supervision. This includes emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention. Step 2 has two parts. The computer-based multiple-choice component of Step 2 is referred to as Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK). CK is constructed with an integrated content that organizes clinical science material along two dimensions: physician tasks and disease category.

The Clinical Skills exam is a separately administered component, referred to as Step 2 CS. CS consists of 12 patient cases. The cases cover common and important situations that a physician is likely to encounter. Most cases are designed to require a process of history taking and physical exam that demonstrates the examinee's ability to list and pursue various plausible diagnoses.

Anyone preparing the Step 2 CS exam should view the video available at the USMLE website. Step 2 CS includes 12 patient encounters. This includes a very small number of patient encounters, which are added for testing new cases, but are not used to determine your score.