USMLE Step 2 CS Scheduling

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
You should schedule your USMLE Step 2 CS well in advance in order to secure your desired testing date. Read on to learn about the scheduling process and how to ready yourself for your scheduled test date.

About Scheduling Your USMLE Step 2 CS

If you graduated from or are attending a U.S. or Canadian medical school, you must register for and schedule your USMLE Step 2 CS through the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). Students and graduates of schools in other countries may register for and schedule their exams through the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

Once you register, you will receive a permit that provides you with a one-year window of eligibility during which you may schedule and take the USMLE Step 2 CS. You shouldn't schedule to take your exam until you know you will complete at least a majority of your required residency rotations, but keep in mind that dates for this exam typically fill up three or four months in advance. The NBME and ECFMG websites maintain an up-to-date calendar reflecting available test dates. If your desired test date is not available when you first register, you may request to be notified if availability arises through cancellations or the addition of testing dates.

Important Considerations Before You Schedule Your Exam

  • If you need your results by a certain date, remember that test takers do not receive scores for several months after they take the exam. Be sure to check the score reporting schedule on the USMLE website to make sure you schedule your test date early enough to meet your deadline.
  • Step 2 CS is the most expensive of the USMLE exams, costing $1,275 through 2016, and $1,280 starting in 2017. Make sure you have enough funds available to take the exam.
  • The exam is only offered in select locations within the United States, and test takers are responsible for their own travel and lodging expenses. Test centers are at Clinical Skills Evaluation Collaboration (CSEC) centers in Philadelphia, PA; Houston, TX; Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; and Los Angeles, CA.

About the USMLE Step 2 CS

The USMLE Step 2 CS is designed to ensure that medical doctors not only have appropriate knowledge, but also have the ability to communicate and interact efficiently with patients. The eight-hour exam, therefore, comprises a dozen 15-minute patient interactions, which could include both in-person and telephone encounters. For each encounter, you will need to write a patient note that details the patient's history, findings from your physical examination, and no more than three diagnoses.

Prep Tips

  • Because the USMLE Step 2 CS focuses largely on patient-facing skills, test takers may benefit from reviewing interpersonal communication best practices. has several online courses designed to provide insight and tips. These include Developing Interpersonal Communication Skills for Work and Communications 102: Interpersonal Communication. If you aren't comfortable communicating over the phone, meanwhile, check out this short Phone Skills for Customer Service lesson for help.
  • Your hygienic skills will also be considered, so be sure that each patient sees you wash your hands before you have any physical interaction.
  • A sheet is provided for each client encounter; remember to use it to cover the patient.
  • Always be respectful and speak clearly in English.

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