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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.


Scheduling Reminder for Step 2 CS

Posted: January 29, 2016
Updated: April 26, 2017

Schedules at all test centers fill up quickly. We strongly encourage examinees to complete their scheduling before May 31 of the calendar year in which they plan to test. Based on scheduling trends, if you try to schedule after August 1, you may find that there are no available testing appointments through the end of the year unless there are cancellations.

The graph below is an estimate of test appointment availability for the next six months as of the date at the bottom of the graph. Please note that the graph does not indicate availability at any one location. Availability at the testing center you choose may differ.

Appointment availability changes frequently, so if you are unable to schedule an appointment during a particular time period, please continue to check the Step 2 CS scheduling website. Additional appointments may become available 60 days in advance of a test date.



More information is available in the Applying for the Test and Scheduling Your Test Date section of the Bulletin of Information.


UPDATE - Review of USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills minimum passing performance

Posted: January 24, 2017
Updated: April 19, 2017

Because severe winter weather resulted in cancellation and rescheduling of one of the standard setting panels that review test content for the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examination, dates for the review by the USMLE Management Committee and for possible changes in the recommended minimum passing requirements to take effect have changed. Please see below for new dates.

The USMLE program recommends a minimum passing level for each Step examination. The USMLE Management Committee is responsible for establishing and monitoring these standards, and is asked to complete an in-depth review of standards for each examination every three to four years.

For the 2017 Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) review, information from multiple sources will be considered, including:

  • Results of content-based standard setting exercises conducted with three groups of physicians who have not previously participated in USMLE test committees;
  • Results of surveys of various groups (e.g., samples of examinees, state licensing representatives, medical school faculty) concerning the appropriateness of current pass/fail standards for Step examinations;
  • Trends in examinee performance;
  • Score precision and its effect on the pass/fail outcome.

The USMLE Management Committee is scheduled to review the minimum passing requirements for the USMLE Step 2 CS examination at its July 29 - August 1 meeting (originally scheduled for May 2017).

If the Committee determines that a change is appropriate, the new recommended minimum passing requirements will become effective for all examinees who take a Step 2 CS examination on or after September 10, 2017 (originally July 16, 2017.)

The decision of the Committee will be posted on the USMLE website immediately following the July 29 - August 1 meeting.


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