USMLE® Step 2CS Exam Overview

Demonstrate your practical clinical skills.

  • Prep Options
  • Exam Summary
  • Scoring

Prep Options

Step 2 CS Prep®
Live + Practice Exam

Attend a live prep course in the USA, taught by our master faculty.

Learn More
Step 2 CS Prep®
Live Online

Attend 15 hours of live online sessions taught by top-scoring teachers.

Learn More
Step 2 CS Prep®
Practice Exam
Starting at $1499

Attend a live practice exam in the US.

Learn More

Exam Summary

About the Step 2 CS Exam

Step 2 CS of the USMLE assesses the examiners' ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and understanding of clinical science, which is essential for the provision of patient care under supervision.

Step 2 CS uses Standardized Patients to test candidates on their ability to gather information from patients, perform physical examinations, and communicate their findings to patients and colleagues. These are carried out in a mock hospital setting, with trained actors portraying certain symptoms and are selected from a broad range of age, race and ethnic backgrounds.

Candidates have fifteen minutes for each patient encounter and a further 10 minutes to complete a typed patient note. 

Examinees are expected to communicate with the Standardized Patients (SPs) in a sympathetic and professional manner, while gaining crucial historic information, perform a physical exam, answer questions from the SPs, tell them of the diagnoses being considered, also to inform them of any necessary tests to clarify their diagnoses. Each encounter will be recorded. 

This practical exam is administered on a year-round basis, in order to book your place for USMLE Step 2 CS, visit and see the schedules for the different test centers. 

As of 2016, students taking the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills test may see a case in which they will be provided with a digital image, such as a photograph, x-ray, MRI or CT scan on a tablet computer by the standardized patient. Test takers will be able to enlarge the image. During the pre-session orientation, test takers will be able to view a sample image and practice enlarging it on a tablet. Not all examinations will include a case with an image. Test takers will see a maximum of one case with an image per examination.



USMLE Step 2 CS Scoring

This is the only USMLE exam that does not generate a score, it is simply Pass or Fail. 

Examinees are, however, assessed on 3 separate subcomponents: 

  • Integrated Clinical Encounter (ICE): this looks into data gathering (patient history and physical examination), also the patient note submitted. 
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills (CIS): looking at questioning skills, information sharing skills (such as overuse of medical jargon), Professional manner and rapport.
  • Spoken English Proficiency (SEP): clarity of spoken English communication within the context of the doctor- patient encounter (such as pronunciation, choice of words, etc). 

Each of these sub-components must be passed in a single administration in order to achieve a pass for the total exam. 

2012 Scoring Changes: 

These changes mainly concern the (CIS) Communication and Interpersonal Skills section of the scoring, as students will now be tested on the following areas within this: 

  • Fostering the Relationship
  • Gathering Information
  • Information Provision
  • Making Decisions
  • Supporting Emotions
  • Enabling Patient Behaviors

The other key changes to exam include the patient note, that delegates are required to produce at the end of each clinical encounter. In the new note, delegates will continue to be asked to document physical examination and relevant history findings, in addition to listing initial diagnostic studies. Student's will now be asked to create a reasoned and focused alternative (maximum of 3 possible diagnoses) listed in order of likelihood; indicating the supporting evidence obtained from the patient encounter. This new patient note allows examinees to show their analysis and thought process in coming to the possible conclusions.

  • Step 2 CS Prep - Live + Practice Exam

    Live interactive instruction

    Available in the USA

    • 4 day live Step 2 CS review
    • Highly trained Standardized Patients
    • Kaplan Step 2 CS Lecture Notes  
    • Coaching in effective communication 
    • Practice in conducting patient history and physical exams 
    • 12 hour Practice Exam on final day
    • Learn more
  • Step 2 CS Practice Exam

    Classroom Courses

    Experience the Step 2CS exam first hand!

    • 1 day live exam
    • Only available in the US
    • 11-12 patient encounters
    • Detailed performance analysis and feedback
    • Kaplan trained standardized patients
    • Can be used to further Live Prep or Live Online options
    • Learn more
  • Step 2 CS Prep - Live Online

    Anywhere Courses

    Ideal for students that cannot make a live course

    • 12 hours of live online instruction  
    • Prepare from anywhere
    • Interact with our top faculty
    • Observe patient encounters 
    • Receive tips for exam room etiquette
    • Learn more