What You Should Know About the USMLE Step 3

What You Should Know About the USMLE Step 3

The USMLE Step 3 is the most important test of your medical career. Here’s the rundown. 


The USMLE Step 3 is the final installment of the USMLE exam series. It is taken during your first year as a resident, which is also referred to as your intern year. The USMLE Step 3 is used to gauge your clinical experience and your knowledge of patient care, and it is the last test you will have to take before acquiring your medical license.

Step 3 Format

You will complete the exam over two days. These days do not have to be taken consecutively. However, they must be taken in numerical order and within two weeks of each other.

The first day consists of a multiple-choice test that is seven hours long. It has six sections with up to 40 questions in each one. You are given an hour to answer each section, and you get a 50-minute break halfway through.

The second day’s portion of the test is nine hours total and is comprised of two parts. The first part is multiple-choice, with six segments containing 30 questions each. The final component is made up of 13 simulations of medical cases. Each case comes with a set of questions that must be answered within 10 to 20 minutes.

How To Study for Step 3

Creating a consistent study schedule will help to break up the information you’ve learned into manageable parcels, which will keep your brain from becoming overly saturated with academic material. You can even encourage other interns to form a study group.

Taking a USMLE Step 3 online course is not required, but it may help you stay on top of things. A study course should be supplementary to your independent research. 

Testing your knowledge on practice exams is highly recommended. Doing so will help you understand what topics you know well and which ones you need to study more. Taking a practice test will also make you more comfortable with the exam’s format.

Keep this information in mind when you prepare for this vital exam.

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Earl Barnes