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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.


Updated Step 2 Clinical Skills orientation video

Posted: May 29, 2015

An updated version of the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) orientation video has been posted to the USMLE website.

The video includes updated information regarding break time, personal items, and use of hand sanitizer.

All Step 2 CS examinees are strongly encouraged to watch the video and to read the USMLE Step 2 CS Content Description and General Information booklet before taking the exam.


Step 2 CK - Schedule for score reporting and change in number of items

Posted: May 19, 2015

The USMLE program usually reports Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) scores 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 between the week of July 13th through late August.  The target date for reporting Step 2 CK scores for most examinees who test during this time period will be Wednesday, September 16, 2015.

 If you need to receive a Step 2 CK score before September 16, we recommend that you take Step 2 CK no later than Friday, July 10, 2015.

During the period July 13 through late August, the number of items per block on a given examination form will vary but will not exceed 44 items. The number of items in a block is displayed on the screen at the beginning of the block.  Please note this information and pace yourself accordingly. 

The total number of items on the overall examination form will not exceed the current 350 items. The length of the testing day will not change. The test day will continue to be divided into eight 60-minute blocks, administered in one nine-hour testing session.  The variation in number of items per block will not impact scoring.


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