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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.


2016 schedule for reporting Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) results is available

Posted: April 07, 2015

The 2016 schedule provides examinees, and others who rely on Step 2 CS results, with guidelines regarding when a result will be reported for a given exam date. Click here to view the schedule.


Expanded Version of USMLE Content Outline

Posted: April 06, 2015

An expanded version of the USMLE Content Outline, which provides a common organization of content across all USMLE examinations, is now available.

The expanded version provides additional detail about subcategories of the 18 sections of the content outline. It is important to note that the USMLE Content Outline is not intended as a curriculum development or study guide. It provides a flexible organization of content for test construction that can readily accommodate new topics, emerging content domains, and shifts in emphasis. The categorizations and content coverage are subject to change.

While the USMLE Content Outline is common to all exams, each exam continues to have its own test specifications. Each exam emphasizes certain parts of the outline, and no single examination will include questions on all topics in the outline.

Additional information about the organization of the USMLE examinations is provided in the USMLE Physician Tasks/Competencies, a publication that provides a common organization of competencies and tasks assessed in USMLE examinations. Also, information concerning content specifications for each Step examination is available:


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