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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.


USMLE Score Interpretation Guidelines

Posted: October 30, 2014

USMLE Score Interpretation Guidelines (SIG) have been posted to the USMLE website. Topics include:

  • Description of Examinations
  • Understanding Your Score
  • Recent Means and Standard Deviations (SDs)
    • Norm Table
    • Passing Scores
  • Precision of Scores
  • Guidelines for Use of USMLE Step Scores for Selection Decisions

The means and SDs and the norm table will be updated annually. Because percentile ranks depend on the cohort of examinees, you should always use the most recent norm table available on the USMLE website to obtain percentile ranks.


New display features to be piloted in Practice Sessions

Posted: October 27, 2014

Practice Sessions are primarily intended to provide examinees with the opportunity to become familiar with the Prometric Test Center environment.  From time to time, the USMLE program uses Practice Sessions to pilot new features and get feedback from examinees.

Three new user-adjustable display features will be piloted in USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) Practice Sessions delivered at a limited number of Prometric Test Centers on or after November 3, 2014: 

  • Reverse color (color inversion)
  • Text magnification
  • Image magnification

The new display features are NOT currently available on live USMLE administrations or in practice materials available on the USMLE website.

Examinees are encouraged but not required to use the new features; they will not interfere with an examinee’s practice experience. Examinees who take a Step 1 or Step 2 CK Practice Session during this period will be asked to complete a brief post-session survey about their experience, which will help USMLE determine whether examinees like the new features.

If the features become available in the future for use in USMLE Step examinations or the online practice materials, examinees will be notified well in advance.

NOTE: the first 500 examinees to schedule an appointment for a Practice Session with the new display features on or after November 3, 2014 will have a $40 discount applied to their fee. Scheduling is restricted to a limited number of Prometric Test Centers during this pilot.
 
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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