Step 3: Change is Coming

By Sasmit Sarangi

It is that time of the year again. The time of year that finds many of us looking to schedule our Step 3 exams and complete them before we join residency positions.

There are many advantages to taking your Step 3 exam early, and I will not rehash all of them here. My thinking is that I should try to get it over with as soon as possible while most of the information is still fresh in my mind. This would definitely be easier for me than preparing all over again. There have been some announcements in the last few months about impending changes in several Step exams, and First Aid web team author, Patrick Sylvester, wrote an excellent post on the likely impact of these changes with regard to Step 1. I will be focusing on Step 3 in particular as it can often be neglected.

Beginning November 3, 2014, exam takers will have the option to take the test on two non-consecutive days. Also, state board sponsorship of Step 3 will be discontinued and students no longer have to meet a specific state’s eligibility criteria. There will be a greater thrust on the integration of essential basic science information with clinical problems in the new format.

Content in the areas of biostatistics, epidemiology, and population health; literature interpretation; medical ethics; and patient safety is also likely to be enhanced. Registration for the older format was discontinued July 18th and there will most likely be no exam in October this year. Anyone who takes the exam beginning in November can also expect long delays for their results (expected date is April 2014).

In my case, I am scheduled to take my Step 3 exam before the start of the new format. I feel that I have more resources to properly evaluate my performance before I take Step 3, if I stick to the older format. While it is possible that the new format may not be very significant in determining final performance, I would prefer to be safe than sorry (and not waste time and money taking the exam again).

Please go through some of the detailed USMLE announcements listed at the end and feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.

Key Points

• Applications for the current Step 3 examination are no longer accepted (after 5:00 p.m. (U.S. Central Time) on July 18, 2014).

• Applications for the restructured Step 3 examination were accepted beginning August 4, 2014.

• No Step 3 examinations will be administered during most or all of October 2014.

• Administration of the restructured Step 3 exam will begin on November 3, 2014.

• There will be a score delay following introduction of the restructured Step 3 examination on November 3, 2014. The duration of the score delay will be determined by examinee volume during the early months of exam administration. Based on historic trends, the USMLE Program estimates that scores for Step 3 exams taken on or after November 3, 2014 will be released in April 2015.


More detailed resources-


1 thought on “Step 3: Change is Coming”

  1. Would you know when an updated version of First Aid for Step 3 will be released in order to address the recent changes to the test? Thanks!

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