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How to Prepare for the USMLE Part 2 (2nd of 3 Total United States Medical Licensing Exam Parts)

Updated on January 23, 2012

The USMLE Part 2 is the second part of three separate sections on the United States Medical Licensing Exam. It focuses on applying scientific knowledge to patients for the purposes of achieving health promotion and disease prevention.

Part 2 assesses the doctor's clinical knowledge through a written exam and clinical skills through real people playing the part of patients in a mock clinical setting.

The clinical knowledge part of USMLE Part 2 is all multiple-choice questions with as much as 23 options. Thus, you need to be quite familiar with the material so you can eliminate a high number of potentially correct answers that happen to not be the best answer. Always be prepared to choose the best answer that most accurately answers the question, as some answers may be correct in certain circumstances.

This is not an easy task. Sometimes, the more general answer will be correct. Other times, the question will call for the more specific answer. For example, cigarette smoking may be a contributor to many diseases, but it is not necessarily the prevalent indicator that a doctor would be looking for when narrowing down a range of symptoms to arrive at a diagnosis.

To learn what is on the test, access the USMLE Part 2 exam content outline. It is available from the link below on the USMLE website. Use the outline with current textbooks on the relevant subjects to prepare for the United States Medical Licensing Exam Part 2.

Next, you need to get familiar with how to successfully navigate the Clinical Skills (mock doctor's visit) portion. There is also a content description for this part of the test. It is available on a series of web pages using links from the web page linked to below. Make sure you understand how this part of the medical licensing test is scored, how to fill out the paperwork for the mock visit, etc. If you are ready for the Clinical Knowledge portion of USMLE Part 2, then you should be just about ready for the Clinical Skills portion. it is just that you need to be familiar with how the test is scored and so on so you do not lose valuable points.

There are also some Part 2 tutorials and practice tests on the USMLE website. Pay particular attention to the video of the Clinical Skills portion of the test to get an idea of how to interact with the mock patients. If you find that you are having problems with the practice test questions, then go back to the books and review any weak areas before the day of the exam.


USMLE Exam Content Outline

USMLE Part 2 Clinical Skills Content Outline


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