The old adage “two months for Step 1, two weeks for Step 2, and two #2 pencils for Step 3” doesn’t make sense anymore. Step 1 will be pass/fail soon and Step 2 CK remains a nuisance, so when should you take Step 3 during residency?
Step 3 is notoriously known for its emphasis on biostatistics, which requires students to not only have a solid foundation of biostatistical concepts and equations, but also be able to apply this knowledge in the context of medical research and literature. It can feel daunting to study these concepts, especially for students who have forgotten some of the basics in the years since taking Step 1 and Step 2 CK.
“Two months for Step 1, two weeks for Step 2 CK, and a number 2 pencil for Step 3, right?” Not exactly.
You cannot bring your own pencils into the testing facility nor would you need them. And more importantly, Step 3, though not the most crucial of the three USMLE examinations, is not an exam to disregard. It is an expensive and grueling exam that you would only wish to have to take once and is increasingly being used in the fellowship match. This outline will breakdown how to plan for the Step 3 exam and what to expect as you prepare and take the test.
Below are our top tips and tricks for a stellar USMLE Step 3 exam day.
When it comes to Step 3, it turns out that in between the 80 hour work weeks and general adjustments to life as an intern, you’re expected to find the time to study for not one, but two days of the USMLE.
And while this is finally the light at the end of the tunnel, for most test takers it is a significant source of anxiety added to their intern year.
What’s more is that while you are a seasoned veteran when it comes to the standard USMLE questions, the CCS component of Step 3 is a whole new ballgame. However, there is some good news: With a little bit of practice, you can easily turn this unknown entity in to an opportunity to excel and boost your exam score.
After surviving medical school, Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 2 CS and possibly even internship and parts of residency, you have just failed the last test standing in your way of obtaining a permanent medical license: Step 3.
After so many years of studying and so many exams passed, you cannot fathom how on earth you failed Step 3. Let me assure you that you are not alone.
Many people fail Step 3 every year, especially after new changes were made to the exam format and content in recent years. There is now more emphasis on statistics and the inclusion of Step 1-esque material. If you recently failed, take a deep breath and assess the situation by asking yourself the following five questions:
By now, you’ve probably heard from everyone around you how challenging your intern year is going to be. Learning how to put in orders, dose medications, stay awake for 27 hours at a time, and just how to function when working 80 hours a week is a steep learning curve. So how are you supposed to study for another Step exam at the same time? Believe me, it can absolutely be done! You just might need to be more proactive in planning out your study time in advance.
The day has finally come. You’re about to click start on your first question on the USMLE. Your breathing is rapid and your heart is fluttering, but you try to stay calm. The first question appears and you jump right in. It's a long case, which you start reading from the top... but by the time you finish, you realize you were so nervous you don’t remember anything you just read! On the next question, you try to compensate by reading with extreme attention to detail. You focus on the vital signs and lab work of a sick infant girl, trying to diagnose her illness, only to get to the end of the case and realize it’s an ethics question and the diagnosis doesn’t even matter. Now you’ve wasted more time!
If this sounds familiar, it may be time to refine your question-taking strategy on the USMLE. The following steps provide some helpful tips for best tackling a case-based question on the boards or any medical school exam.
In my last post, I gave my first four secrets on what to look for to solve any Step 2 CK or Step 3 question stem. Now, with rotations finishing up for many students and Step 2 CK looming on the horizon, I can’t think of a better time to share the rest!
So you’ve got Step 1 under your belt and you should be feeling pretty good about yourself. However, now that you’re preparing to take Step 2 (or 3), you may be wondering how Step 2 and 3 questions differ from Step 1, and whether you’ll need to change your approach. Not to worry! In this post, I’ll cover the techniques I teach my students for tackling question stems.