What to Wear for USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK

What to Wear for USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK

Ok, so it's not the most intellectually stimulating topic, but hey, we all gotta do it and we all have questions... A little more of a fun, lighthearted post today about a not-so-lighthearted subject.

Do You Know What To Wear For Test Day?

Imagine. You walk into the testing center and you get wanded for the first time before you sit down for the monster Step 1 exam. After pulling out ALL of your pockets and shaking out your hoodie, you realize that the clothes you wore have become more of a burden than a help. Don't let this be your story!

USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK are 8 and 9 hours long, respectively. If you haven't heard of these exams, they are the "boards" that medical students have to take to become doctors. These tests are not the "board-certified" tests that a person takes after graduating from residency. Rather, these boards, Step 1 through Step 3, are the same test regardless of what specialty you go into.

Now you know what not to do and what the boards are. Now for the "what to wear." It is pretty simple, really. I prescribe the same outfit for girls and guys- your favorite undergarments (for good luck), a loose t-shirt that you enjoy, pocketless pants that are very comfortable but not too comfortable, and a zip-up sweater, preferably pocketless. Let's take it from the top...

  1. Your Favorite Undergarments: This is cannot be understated, uncomfortable underwear can seriously bother you on test day. I know I made it sound like it would be worse, but hey, its just underwear. And being just underwear, it should serve 3 functions: be comfortable on your underwearable areas, not bother you or ride up over the course of 8-9 hours in a chair, and save you from embarrassment/impress the ED attending when you go into PSVT trying to answer that question you KNOW you just saw yesterday in UWorld but can't seem to remember that lands you in the STAB room at the county hospital getting a carotid massage and an amp of adenosine.
  2. A Loose T-Shirt That You Enjoy: Whether its soft, cool colors, or made from Grandma's fallen hair, your t-shirt on test day should be one of your favorites. Why? Because there will be a few times during test day when you actually get to use the bathroom and in said bathroom there is a sink with a mirror, and you will look at your pitiful self with bloodshot eyes and say, "Hey, buck up, pal. You got this." So wear a t-shirt that makes you want to say that to yourself. Easy enough, right?
  3. Pocketless Pants: Here's where you make big moves. Every time you re-enter the testing room after taking one of your brief breaks, you will have to be wanded down again and have to pull out/empty all of your pockets. These little things eat away at your precious break time. So don't mess with it! Just find a pair of pocketless pants and save the minute for an extra bite of PB&J. Make sure the pants are comfortable and to your liking, but if they remind you of long days curled up in bed or on the couch, don't wear them. That is not the signal you want to give to your brain, especially come afternoon right after lunch when that blood sugar starts to go down and the room is just so comfortable and warm... If you are super warm-blooded, consider shorts for the day as this would cut out the step of pulling up your pant legs to reveal your ankles before re-entering.
  4. Zip-Up Sweater: Same rule applies here. If you have pockets on your sweater/track jacket, ditch it. It sounds stupid, but why waste your precious time on test day flipping your hood & pockets? Get a pocketless, hoodless sweater that zips up. I like this for convenience. I did not follow this rule during Step 2 CK and I couldn't help but get annoyed at myself for not thinking ahead about the hood- each time you re-enter the test room, you have to shake out your hood.
 Story of My Life.

Story of My Life.

There you have it folks. (Mostly) Everything you need to know about what to wear on test day. Did I miss something? What worked for you/what are your plans for your test day? Comment below!

Update: The Calm Before The Storm

Update: The Calm Before The Storm

Why I Walked Away From Surgery: Part 3

Why I Walked Away From Surgery: Part 3