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Step 3 – Change in number of items and score delay

Posted: November 18, 2015


Beginning the week of January 18, 2016, the number of items on the Step 3 examination will decrease. There will be a delay in reporting scores for exams administered between January 18 and April 30, 2016. The target date for reporting Step 3 scores for most examinees testing during this time period is May 25, 2016.

Although this change will occur quickly at many test centers, there may be some locations where the transition takes longer to complete. The overall transition period should last approximately six weeks. Please note that:

  • The length of the testing days will not change.
  • Day 1 (Foundations of Independent Practice [FIP]) will continue to be an approximately 7-hour testing session, including time for breaks and tutorials.
  • Day 2 (Advanced Clinical Medicine [ACM]) will continue to be a 9-hour testing session, including time for breaks and tutorials.
  • Day 1 (FIP) will continue to be divided into six 60-minute blocks.
  • Each FIP block will have 38 to 40 multiple-choice questions (MCQs).
  • The total number of MCQs on the FIP portion of the examination will be 233.
  • Day 2 (ACM) will continue to be divided into six 45-minute blocks of MCQs, and 13 computer-based case simulations (CCS).
  • Each ACM MCQ block will have 30 items.
  • The total number of MCQ items on the ACM portion of the examination will be 180.
  • Scores on examination forms taken before and after the change – as well as scores on forms with different numbers of items – will be comparable; the possible variation in the number of items per form will be accounted for in scoring the examination.

Score reports for Step 3 are usually available within four weeks of testing. However, because of the change described above, as well as routine modifications to the test item pool, score reporting for most Step 3 examinations administered from January 18, 2016 through April 30, 2016 will take longer. As noted above, the target date for reporting Step 3 scores for most examinees testing during this time period is May 25, 2016.


Updated practice and informational materials for the Step 2 CK examination are available

Posted: June 10, 2016

Updated practice and informational materials for the Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) examination have been posted to the USMLE website. These materials reflect the change in number of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) per block described in a prior announcement, as well as new test delivery software .

Examinees planning to take a Step 2 CK examination on or after July 10, 2016 should read the following materials and practice with the updated sample items:

Downloadable practice test materials, with tutorials
USMLE Step 2 CK Sample Items booklet (PDF)
USMLE Step 2 CK Content Description and General Information booklet (PDF)


New features in Step 1 and Step 2 CK examinations

Posted: March 03, 2016
Updated: June 09, 2016

The National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®) has developed new software to deliver Step 1 and Step 2 CK of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®). The new software incorporates user-adjustable display features, specifically text magnification and reverse color (color inversion)

The new features will begin to be administered in Step 1 examinations during a transition period beginning the week of May 9, and in Step 2 CK examinations during a transition period beginning the week of July 10. Although the transition will occur quickly at many test centers, there may be some locations where the changes take slightly longer to complete. The overall transition period will likely last approximately 6 weeks. 

NEW FEATURES

Two new user-adjustable display features will be available in the new software:

  • Reverse color (color inversion)
  • Text magnification

Reverse color

Inverts the color of the text and background from black-on-white to white-on-black. The ability to reverse color (also known as color inversion) improves readability for some users.


Text magnification


Two levels of text magnification will be available.


Image magnification

Magnifies images, such as photographs and graphs.
Click anywhere within the image to enlarge or to return to original size.


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