How to Score a 280 on USMLE Step 2

The USMLE Step 2 is an important examination, and the higher your score, the better. And exam prospects often ask, “How do I get that high score?” or “How do I plan myself to get a high score.” The truth is that there is no perfect way to score high in exams.

However, there are certain strategies you can employ to get up to 280 or any high enough score. In this article, we’ll explore all of them.

Plan when you’ll write your exams

Having a set plan will help you to prepare for your exams better. It’s always advisable to take the USMLE Step 2 about six months after finishing your clinical rotations. This is because you want the knowledge to still be fresh in your head.

In case your medical school follows a structure where Step 1 is taken after core rotations, it is advisable, provided you have the energy and stamina, to take Step 2 a few months after Step 1, as there is significant overlap in the subjects covered.

However, it’s important to note that the clerkship year can be physically and mentally draining, which may lead to burnout. If immediately diving into Step 2 preparation after completing rotations seems overwhelming, please take some time for rest and recovery by opting for lighter rotations before resuming intense study. Our brains absorb knowledge most effectively when we are well-rested, curious, and actively engaged rather than when we are tired, burnt out, and exhausted.

Using a good study guide

To excel on the USMLE Step 2 CK, it is crucial to approach clerkship year and shelf exam preparation with seriousness and dedication. Consider your clerkship year a valuable opportunity to establish a strong foundation in clinical practice.

Clerkship year significantly prepares you for USMLE Step 2 by allowing you to apply your medical knowledge to real-life clinical situations. This experience is invaluable because USMLE Step 2 focuses more on clinical aspects than Step 1.

We highly recommend integrating CanadaQBank’s Step 2 question bank into your study routine during the clerkship year, specifically for preparing for shelf exams. This approach enables you to go through the question bank gradually over one year and exposes you early on to the question style encountered in Step 2.

Remember that practice and repetition are key elements in your preparation. As you go through CanadaQBank’s Step 2 question bank for the first time, we suggest using flashcards to capture important concepts or points that you learn. Utilize apps like Anki to create your flashcards, as its style is ideal for long-term learning and retention. Ensure that each flashcard you create is concise and prompts a brief, focused answer.

Remain diligent in generating flashcards based on the concepts and insights you acquire from practice questions.

Create a study plan

It is essential to adopt a study approach that prioritizes mastering the high-yield material when preparing for the USMLE Step 2 exam. This content is highly likely to be tested, so dedicating time to thoroughly review it should be a central component of your study plan.

Focusing on high-yield material is an effective strategy as it allows you to identify any weaknesses and knowledge gaps related to this content early on. Additionally, this approach provides your brain with ample time to process and assimilate the information throughout your dedicated study period.

Once you have worked through the high-yield material, allocate the following weeks of your dedicated study period to address the identified knowledge gaps and delve into detailed material that may be less high-yield but still relevant to the exam’s potential coverage.

As you approach the final weeks of your dedicated study period, it is beneficial to revisit the high-yield content that you initially studied. This revisiting stage allows you to reinforce and solidify the knowledge you have already acquired while benefiting from your brain’s enhanced processing capabilities during this second exposure.

You can continue addressing any remaining knowledge gaps and observe how the pieces of information fit together.

By following this approach, you ensure that you thoroughly cover the high-yield material, address any areas of weakness, and reinforce your understanding of essential concepts, ultimately increasing your preparedness for the USMLE Step 2 exam.

Know when you need a tutor

While not every student necessarily requires a tutor for USMLE Step 2 exam preparation, there are potential advantages for every student in utilizing tutoring services. Specifically, if your practice exams indicate that you need to achieve a score increase of more than 20 points to pass and you have little time to prepare, tutoring can be particularly beneficial. Also, if you are aiming for a highly competitive specialty, incorporating CanadaQBank’s online tutoring into your USMLE Step 2 CK study plan may have its advantages.

Summary of tips for scoring high in your USMLE Step 2

  • Assess the time available until your exam and create a well-structured schedule for comprehensive preparation.
  • Prioritize the essential and frequently tested topics. Identify key concepts and allocate ample time to grasp and internalize them fully.
  • Select resources that align with your learning style and preferences.
  • Consider integrating flashcards into your study routine to enhance memorization and application of concepts.
  • Regularly evaluate your performance and identify improvement areas.
  • Utilize good question banks, such as CanadaQBank, to practice and familiarize yourself with the exam format.
  • Use the earlier stages of your preparation to build a strong understanding of fundamental concepts.
  • Engage actively with the study material by summarizing key points, creating mnemonics, or teaching concepts to others.
  • Simulate the exam environment using timed question blocks. This will help you familiarize yourself with the time constraints and train your ability to manage time effectively during the exam.
  • Maintain a positive mindset throughout your preparation. Approach each question and study session with determination and focus. Remember that every step you take brings you closer to your goal.


These tips are not cut and dry; instead, use them as guidance and adapt them to suit your own study style and preferences.

Remember, you always make use of our CanadaQBank’s question bank for access to countless resources.

Good luck on your USMLE Step 2 journey!