I’m starting to study for Step 3 :O

So it feels kind of crazy that I am about to study for the last USMLE exam. I am just taking my initial gander into what’s already out there in terms of a helpful intro to what this exam is about and what the prep will involve.

My initial search yielded this:


Ben White has a great website that is a handy resource for other exams as well. I like that he keeps it simple and concentrates on high yield. Nice to hear that UWORLD is clutch and not much else.

“If you go over all 51 practice cases, as well as, read the 40 or so other cases that are included, you’ll be prepared[…] Yea there are the interactive ones but if you look somewhere on there in the ccs section there are also another 40 or so cases but they are not interactive, they’re just read-only. I would read those as well[…] U world written cases and sim cases together are plenty. I ran through the sims twice and the written cases once and the CCS was my strongest performance on the real thing. But like I said in a previous post of mine, be prepared for 1-2 curveball cases that really require on-your-feet thinking. The rest will be gimmes.” – TeslaCoil on SDN

“Overkill, I went through only the simulation cases offered by nbme, the 6 cases on the website, and felt well prepared.” -Dr.Acula99 on SDN

“The bare minimum should be
1) UWORLD step 3 qbank
2) Kaplan qbank
2) UWORLD step 3 CCS + practice CCS cases on NBME website
4) Crush Step 3 CCS
5) Biostats – UWORLD step 1,2,3 qbanks, First Aid Step 1 Biostats chapter (behavioral science)
+/- UWORLD step 2 CK
+/- MTB step 3, 2
+/- USMLE Rx Step 3″ – playingfrombehind on SDN

“Best advise: Use MTB early as a quick review to familiarize yourself with material, and do another quick review prior to day 2. I scheduled my exam about a week apart which allowed me time to work on CCS cases. I was on IM the month prior to my exam, so I didn’t have a lot of time to study. I thought NOT scheduling it on back to back days was key for me.
Also, take NBME about a 3 weeks out to scare yourself if you need an extra push to study hard. I kinda started slacking prior to the last week.
Buy Uworld Biostats for $25, This was the best $25 ive spent all year!!! I promise!!
For CCS cases, develop a good approach that you for each type of case. And practice, practice, practice!! I watched some YouTube videos and read through like half the practice cases prior to doing the interactive cases.

Day 1: I felt like I was guessing throughout the MCQs, but narrowed the choices down to 2 on most of the exam. Like everyone else, Day 1 was saturated with biostats. It was probably about 20% of questions on day 1, but I felt very well prepared as I reviewed a **** ton the day before. Day one was super long.

Day 2: MCQ sucked the life out of me on day 2, and it was refreshing to start the CCS portion. The CCS cases were not easy, but were not impossible. I stumbled on a few, but for the majority of cases I finished early and the patient got better. It kinda reminded me of step 2 CS but on a computer, so order tests and treatments to get all your points!

Summary, if I passed I think CCS and biostats saved my ass!” – DTmakeKCpaid on SDN

Book: Kaplan’s Master the Boards To be fair, the book does contain a ton of information that probably did show up on the exam. But it’s hard to read it as an intern. Skimmed through the book once (and I really mean skimmed, any long list was instantly glossed over) over a period of 4 weeks. Tried to get through key sections the weekend before my exam and well, didn’t work out so well. Not a huge book person when it comes to these Step exams.

Test Questions: USMLEWorld, USMLE Step 3 software

Completed all the questions in UW as well as all the UW CCS case scenarios. Did this over a 3 week period and spent the last week just redoing questions. Always in tutor mode, always 12 questions at a time. Scores ranged from 50-70% although by the time I hit the repeats, we were looking at 80-100%. Also completed the Step 3 questions provided by the NBME. I thought the CCS questions from UW were a lot more helpful than the sample ones offered by the USMLE Step 3 software but I would take a look at the official questions anyway because they are more representative of what you’ll see on the exam. For the UW ones, it seems like they let you delve a little further in the case even proceeding to follow-up. On the real thing, the instant you skim the surface of the answer, the software will move you along. Also, after completing all the CCS case scenarios, I re-read the explanations for all of them the final weekend.


4 weeks-off to study although if we distill it to actual time spent studying, probably < 1 week. In retrospect, I would have liked to take the exam a little more seriously as I did feel it was pretty tough on the two days I as taking it. Endurance is also a factor if you prepare for the exam the way I did (12 sample questions at a time). I will note that my 2nd day was ridiculously short (<4 hours). If you acquaint yourself with the software and go through all 50+ UW CCS cases, you’ll pick up pretty quickly what they want you to do and you almost fall into a rhythm when completing these CCS cases. I have never walked out of any medical-related exam with 4 hours left in my test day!And the CCS cases were the only portion of Step 3 where I was clearly above average.

Score: >230/99

(A large drop from my Step 1/Step 2 scores. Still, I’m not sure that Step 3 is graded on a similar scale and I’m not sure if Step 3 is actually used for evaluation of residents in any capacity. As far as I’m concerned, it’s pass/fail and, needless to say, very happy to have passed and be done with Steps, forever!)”  – asmallchild on SDN

“My advice would probably be UW over and over again. It does a great job of prepping you for the CCS cases and hopefully with enough of the regular questions, you’ll get a feel of what you need to work on and can directly address it with focused reading from Master the Boards.” -asmallchild on SDN


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s