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Update on planned changes to USMLE Step 3 examination

Posted: April 11, 2012

The USMLE Composite Committee and USMLE parent organizations (the National Board of Medical Examiners and the Federation of State Medical Boards) recently approved plans to change the structure of USMLE. Step 3 will be the first examination impacted, with changes to this examination to occur no earlier than 2014.

The plans call for the division of Step 3 into two separate exams, each one day in length, focusing on different sets of competencies. The proposed examinations will continue to be administered by computer using multiple choice questions and computer simulations. The two examinations will be scored separately and examinees will be expected to pass each.

The first exam is expected to focus on whether an examinee possesses the knowledge essential to the independent practice of medicine, including a comprehensive knowledge of both foundational science and clinical medicine. The second exam will assess an examinee’s ability to apply knowledge in the context of patient management, including demonstration of comprehensive knowledge of health and disease, and their impact on patients. The second exam will also require a demonstration of evidence-based medicine and quantitative reasoning skills important to patient care and to life-long learning. Specific information about these changes will be provided well in advance of implementation.

New testing formats that focus on competencies not currently addressed by the Step 3 examination may also be introduced. If new testing formats are to be introduced, announcements will be made and sample material provided in advance of their introduction in the live examinations.

The change to Step 3 will occur no sooner than 2014. After experience is gained with implementation of the Step 3 changes, the Composite Committee and USMLE parent organizations will consider possible modifications to Steps 1 and 2 CK.

As new information becomes available it will be posted to the USMLE website.


State board sponsorship for Step 3 discontinued

Posted: October 14, 2013
Updated: October 22, 2014

With the introduction of the restructured Step 3 examination in 2014, the USMLE program no longer requires examinees to apply for Step 3 under the eligibility requirements of a specific medical licensing authority.

All other Step 3 eligibility requirements (i.e., medical degree, passing Steps 1-2, ECFMG certification for IMGs) remain applicable, as do all other USMLE program requirements (e.g., no more than 6 attempts at a Step or a Step component).

Note: Removing state board sponsorship as part of the Step 3 examination application does not impact medical licensing requirements in the United States. Most medical licensing authorities have, and will continue to maintain, specific criteria for completion of the USMLE, such as time and attempt limits. A summary of these requirements can be found on the Federation of State Medical Boards website.

At this time, there are no plans for the USMLE program to impose a minimum residency training requirement as part of the Step 3 eligibility criteria. However, the USMLE program will likely continue to recommend that individuals take Step 3 at or near the completion of the first year of residency training.


A message about the Ebola outbreak for individuals scheduled to take USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS)

Posted: October 21, 2014

The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued travel notices for several countries in connection with the Ebola Virus outbreak.   For the most current information concerning affected countries, please see http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/ebola.

If you reside in or have recently traveled to any country subject to a travel notice, or if you might have come in contact with anyone with Ebola, and have concerns about your health and/or the health and safety of those with whom you might come in contact, you are strongly encouraged to contact your registering entity to reschedule your Step 2 CS examination, at no additional fee. Contact information is available at http://www.usmle.org/bulletin/communicating/.


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