Changes To USMLE Step 3 Examination Beginning in February 2012

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Official Website of USMLE announced that changes to both the Multiple-Choice Question (MCQ) and the Computer-based Case Simulation (CCS) sections of the Step 3 examination will be occuring in mid-February 2012.

Changes to Step 3 Multiple-Choice Question (MCQs)

Items with an associated drug ad or abstract will be introduced into the MCQ section. Each drug ad or abstract will appear as a 2- or 3- item set*; examinees will see no more than 5 of these item sets in their examination.

Introduction of these formats has resulted in the following changes to the structure of the MCQ portion of the Step 3 examination:

  1. Because item sets with an associated drug ad or abstract may require more time to answer than other MCQs exam blocks that include an abstract or drug ad item set will contain fewer items. A screen will appear at the beginning of a block alerting examinees if a block includes a drug ad or abstract item set so that examinees can monitor their time accordingly.
  2. The tutorial provided in Prometric centers on exam day at the beginning of the Step 3 exam has fewer screens and less detailed information than the tutorial available as part of the Step 3 practice materials on the USMLE website. In the exam-day tutorial, the screens describing some of the navigation features of the test delivery software have been consolidated into fewer screens. 

(WARNING: In advance of testing, examinees should review the longer tutorial available in the Step 3 practice materials on the official USMLE website.)

* An “item set” is a drug ad or abstract and the two or three questions that accompany it.

Changes to Step 3 Computer-based Case Simulation (CCS)

  1. The CCS portion of the Step 3 exam, administered on the second day of testing, currently includes nine 25-minute cases. Examinees who test using the updated materials will see twelve cases: a combination of 20-minute cases and 10-minute cases; 25-minute cases will be eliminated.
  2. To help examinees manage their time, the Start Case screen has been updated to clearly indicate the allotted time for each case. In addition, the maximum allotted case time is displayed at the top of the screen during each case.
  3. In the current version of the software, when ordering a physical examination (PE) for a patient in a case, examinees can order a “Complete PE” or they can select individual physical examination components. The “complete PE” option will no longer be available in the updated version. For a physical examination, examinees will select the desired individual components; multiple components can be selected at one time.