Test Day Troubles – Suddenly Sick During USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK or Step 3

As your USMLE or COMLEX exam date inches closer, let’s talk strategy. Your board preparation will likely include numerous study questions, online videos, reading material, timed tests and more. Extensive studying is sure to prepare your brain for test day, but what are your plans to maintain your physical health? Reaching your peak score on the USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK or Step 3 Exam will be much more difficult if you’re under the weather on test day. Continuing our Test Day Troubles series, the Doctors In Training student advising team is here to help you expect the best, but prepare for the worst.

What if…You or a dependent family member is suddenly ill?

If you must reschedule your exam due to an unforeseen circumstance, such as an illness, notify your Prometric Test Center as soon as possible. A word of warning – be prepared to drop some cash.

According to USMLE.org, the Prometric Test Centers will charge a fee for changing testing appointments (e.g., reschedule, cancel, change test center location) based on the local date and time at the Regional Registration Center for the Prometric Testing Region. Information on rescheduling fees can be found here.

Health hints for studying students:

  • Sleep! Your brain and the rest of your body require sleep to perform optimally.
  • Stay hydrated. Make sure you’re drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day. Consume caffeine, sugar, alcohol or other beverages in moderation, if at all.
  • De-stress. Take reasonable study breaks, get some exercise or watch your favorite TV show to let your body relax from the brain strain.
  • Eat frequent and nutritious meals. Your brain requires food to stay sharp and the drive-through is not your friend.
  • Sanitize. Hand washing and using Lysol around your apartment and study areas can help protect your body from unwanted illness.
  • Avoid sick contacts. This may not be an option if you are working in a hospital or clinic, but try to avoid unnecessary social interaction with sick friends and family members in the week or two before your test. Explain (kindly) that it’s important to stay healthy for exam day. They’ll understand.


Apply this information to be best prepared for your exam day, both mentally and physically. Stay tuned for more test day tips!

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