The basics of USMLE Step 3
The main focus of Step 3 is to ensure that physicians can carry out the practice of medicine without supervision. Most of the questions presented, but not all, deal with ambulatory care. The most common, “high-impact” cases are tested. Step 3 is generally considered to be the “easiest” of the exams, but this assumes a strong internship and good preparation for steps 1 and 2.
Starting in 2014 step 3 will be divided into two sections, each administered on a separate day and the days do not have to be back to back. The first part is “Step 3 Foundations of Independent Practice (FIP)” and the second part is “Step 3 Advanced Clinical Medicine (ACM).”
USMLE Step 3 Question Formats
There are three question formats on this step: Single Item, Multiple Item Sets, and Cases.
The Single Item questions are the standard “multiple choice” single best answer questions. There are generally 4-5 answers to select from.
The Multiple Item Sets questions are multiple choice, single best answer questions, all based on a single patient vignette. Again, each question has a single correct answer (although other answers may be “partially correct”). The questions are designed to be answered by themselves – the order in which do the questions is not important.
The Case-based questions are designed to be answered in sequential order. Skipping questions can be bad news: the cases often progress in an orderly fashion, and each question may rely on information given in preceding questions. Again, these are multiple-choice, single best answer questions.
For more information on Step 3 question formats visit: http://www.usmle.org/step3/s3tqf.html
Step 3 Eligibility
A big change in 2014 is that people who want to take step 3 no longer have to apply through individual states. This means a more consistent, non-state based eligibility criterion for taking the test.
USMLE Step 3 Passing Score
As of 2013, the minimum passing score for step 3 is 190. This is up from previous passing scores in the 180s. Further information is available at: http://www.usmle.org/news/step3minpass.htm
Kaplan USMLE Step 3 Test Prep
General USMLE Step 3 Resources
To download sample questions, tutorials, and computer-based case simulations: http://www.usmle.org/Orientation/menu.htm