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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.


UPDATE - USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK Practice Sessions

Posted: March 23, 2015

Three new user-adjustable display features were piloted in USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) Practice Sessions delivered at Prometric Test Centers beginning November 3, 2014:

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

The first 500 examinees who scheduled an appointment for a Practice Session with the new display features were offered a $40 discount applied to their fee.

The pilot has ended, and the discount is no longer in effect.

Examinees who take a Step 1 or Step 2 CK Practice Session may see the new display features, but should be aware that the display features are NOT currently available on live USMLE administrations or in practice materials available on the USMLE website.

When the new user-adjustable display features become available for use in USMLE Step examinations and the online practice materials, examinees will be notified.


Step 1 – Delay in score reporting and change in number of test items

Posted: March 18, 2015

Most score reporting of Step 1 results occurs within four weeks of testing.  However, because of necessary modifications to the test item pool, there will be a delay in reporting for some examinees who test beginning the week of May 11th.

The target date for reporting Step 1 scores for most examinees testing the week of May 11th through late June will be Wednesday, July 8, 2015.  For examinees whose circumstances require that they receive Step 1 scores before July 8, it is recommended that they take Step 1 no later than Friday, May 8, 2015.

During this time period (starting the week of May 11th), a transition will occur in the number of items in current forms of the Step 1 examination.  The change will be from a total of 322 items to 308 items. 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. Please note the following:

• Scores on new and old forms will be comparable; the decrease in the number of items per form will be accounted for in scoring the examination results.
• The length of the examination day will remain unchanged. The test day will continue to be divided into seven 60-minute blocks, administered in one seven-hour testing session.
• The number of items per block will decrease from 46 to 44. There will be a total of 308 items on each examination.


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