So there you are, ready to start the journey to passing your USMLE Step 2 CS exam.

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Where to start? What is ICE, CIS, and SEP anyway? How do they score this? Did they really just tighten the passing standards? Again?


Where do I have to go? You mean I have to travel to take this USMLE licensing exam? Really?

An eight-hour exam? Can that really be true?

Man, I wish there was one place I could go to get really accurate, up-to-date information to start my journey to the successful completion of the USMLE Step 2 CS exam.

Well, you’re in luck! There is!

Mark H. Swartz, M.D., a veteran in the field of communications skills and author of Textbook of Physical Diagnosis: History and Examination, and leading expert on teaching preparation for the USMLE Step 2 CS exam for over 20 years, is offering a free webinar, which will answer all these questions and more, and put you on the right track to begin your studies.

Mark your calendars – Thursday November 16, 7PM Eastern Standard Time.

Click the link below to register, and see you there!

**This webinar has passed. If you're interested in online training to prepare for your exam, please visit our Skype Sessions Page to learn more about our one-on-one coaching sessions with our Qualified Trainers:

Yours in excellent Step 2 CS prep,

The team at C3NY

Why Do I Need a Prep Course Anyway?


"Why do I need a prep course for USMLE Step 2 CS anyway?" This is a question we get frequently here at C3NY, so let's break it down for you.   

You want to exponentially increase your chances at a first time pass. There is no doubt that with the accurate up-to-date in-depth preparation you will receive at C3NY, you substantially increase your ability to pass the USMLE Step 2 CS exam. We have the absolute latest information on the exam, and have a 97% pass rate among our students, whether it's your first time taking the exam or not.

You feel your med school did not adequately prepare you. Don’t fault your medical school — they have more than enough to cover with the regular medical school curriculum! At C3NY, Step 2 CS prep is our sole focus, and we go in-depth about all parts of the exam in a way your medical school cannot. 

You are an International Medical Graduate (IMG). If you have no or limited contact with American patients, you need to learn information about how to approach an encounter with an American patient, and then you need to *practice* with an American patient. The Standardized Patients who work with us at C3NY have years of experience coaching students to pass the USMLE exam.


All that you know about the exam comes from chatter from colleagues or internet. Do not trust the majority of what you read on the internet. Fake news doesn’t just apply to politics! Take it from the experts; study and prep with the most current information. Frequently after the first day at C3NY, the Clinical and Interpersonal Skills (CIS) Intensive, students come to us and say, “I had it all wrong. My approach to the exam is exactly the opposite of what I need; I see that now.”

You don’t know what CIS, ICE and SEP mean. If you are unsure of exactly what is on the exam, you need to  get a clear picture of precisely what the USMLE terms CIS - Clinical and Interpersonal Skills, ICE - Integrated Clinical Encounter and SEP - Spoken English mean. These are the three areas in which you are graded. We break down each of the elements so that your path to success becomes clear.

You need to get all the information you can in the shortest amount of time. A huge advantage of a prep course is that the information is concentrated over three days, giving you all the crucial information and help you need in the shortest amount of time. We offer Skype practice sessions with experienced standardized patients after your workshop.

You were not successful on your first attempt for the exam. You clearly need to find out what you did wrong. The score reports that are received do not really pinpoint exactly how to proceed to become successful on your next attempt; we can help you figure that out.

What exactly are they looking for on the physical exam? There are certainly differences between what you may have been taught regarding the PE maneuvers, and what you need to demonstrate on the exam. Dr. Swartz, the author of Textbook of Physical Diagnosis, which is used all over the globe, shows you precisely the techniques necessary to complete your physical exam in the limited time allowed on the USMLE Step 2 CS exam.

So now that you know why, it's time to register for a prep course! Check out the available dates and discounts here, and we hope to see you in NYC soon! 

Yours in excellent Step 2 CS prep,

The C3NY Team

The Step 2 CS Exam: What to Expect in 2018

Fall is in full swing, and the end of the year will be here before you know it. We’ve compiled an extensive list of everything you need to know to succeed on your Step 2 CS Exam in 2017 and 2018. From USMLE updates and exam tips, to incredible resources for improving your empathy and communication, we will help you ace your Step 2 CS Exam, — and  become a better doctor in the process. Here’s what’s in store:


USMLE policy changes and scoring updates

If you don’t routinely check the official USMLE website for upcoming changes, don’t worry. We do, and we’ll be sure to share the most current USMLE updates and changes both here on our blog, and across all C3NY Social Media accounts. You don’t want to be out of the loop about updated performance standards or delays/changes in scheduling or scoring.

This year, the USMLE Managing Committee has implemented changes to the scoring system used on the Step 2 CS Exam, making it slightly more difficult to pass. The Committee voted to increase the minimum passing requirements for all three components of the Step 2 CS, which will mean that candidates will need to be better prepared than ever before. For complete details on the changes to the Step 2 CS Scoring system, visit

The USMLE has also made changes to the common signs and symptoms that candidates might see on the Step 2 CS. You can check out the updated list HERE.

General Step 2 CS Test Advice & Tips

As you probably know, the Step 2 CS consists of multiple timed encounters with Standardized Patients, each one representing a different set of symptoms. Candidates are required to make a diagnosis for each Patient, then correctly enter the patient note in the time allotted.

One of the most important things that we tell our students is to BREATHE. The Step 2 CS is difficult, but by taking the time to relax and center yourself before each encounter, you’ll find that your mind is much clearer when you walk through the door.

Taking the time to connect with your patients is a key element in passing your Step 2 CS exam

Taking the time to connect with your patients is a key element in passing your Step 2 CS exam

Secondly, succeeding on the Step 2 CS isn’t just a matter of getting the correct diagnosis, it’s also a matter of showing that you have the ability to connect with a patient and build a relationship. This might seem like a difficult thing to do in a 15 minute encounter, but believe it or not, 15 minutes is plenty of time if you structure your conversation correctly. One of the key things that we teach our workshop students is to “invest in the beginning.” What we mean is if you take the time to invest in listening and connecting with your patient at the beginning of the encounter, you can quickly build a relationship with your patient. This will save you time later because your patient will be more willing to open up to you if you need to ask some rapid-fire questions towards the end. You can read more about this philosophy in our previous post, Do’s for the Step 2 CS Exam

Along these same lines, empathy is a necessary skill to becoming a better doctor, specifically when it comes to mastering the clinical skills portion of the exam. Knowledge is one thing, but listening and communication are what you will need to pass your Step 2 CS Exam with flying colors. It is vital for you to understand how the presenting complaint fits into the patient’s life, and to offer verbal empathy.

Finally, don’t neglect the patient note! Many students take plenty of time to study cases, as well as physical exam techniques, but much of your score on the Step 2 CS depends on your patient note. Click here to practice your note with a built in timer. It is vital to spend time practicing this component of the exam. You can read a detailed breakdown of how to improve your score on the patient note in our previous post, USMLE Step 2 Scoring for the Patient Note.

Interesting Reads and Useful Study Materials

Stay up to date on articles and literature! Here are some of our favorite sources of information about medicine and the Step 2 CS Exam:

Official website of the US Medical Licensing Exam

Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates
ECFMG partners with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) in administering the Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) component of USMLE, a requirement for IMGs and for graduates of U.S. and Canadian medical schools who wish to be licensed in the United States or Canada.

National Board of Medical Examiners
Founded in 1915, the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that serves the public through its high- quality assessments of healthcare professionals.

KevinMD shares the stories and insight of the many who intersect with our health care system, but are rarely heard from.

Take the next step!

Our 3-day workshops will give you all the tools you need to PASS your exam! 

Our 3-day workshops will give you all the tools you need to PASS your exam! 

C3NY Step 2 CS Prep is committed to sharing knowledge and teaching clinical skills to doctors around the world. If you’re feeling nervous or unprepared, immerse yourself even further by enrolling in one of our trusted Step 2 CS 3-Day Workshop in New York City, where you’ll receive instruction from internationally known medical educator Mark H. Swartz, MD. We’ve helped students succeed on their Step 2 CS Exams for over 14 years, and we’re proud to maintain a 97% pass rate among our workshop graduates! Find out more about our workshops by visiting our Workshops page.