News from USMLE :

USMLE Step 3 Change in number of items and score delay

Beginning the week of January 18, 2016, the number of items on the Step 3 examination will decrease. There will be a delay in reporting scores for exams administered between January 18 and April 30, 2016. The target date for reporting Step 3 scores for most examinees testing during this time period is May 25, 2016.

Although this change will occur quickly at many test centers, there may be some locations where the transition takes longer to complete. The overall transition period should last approximately six weeks. Please note that:

  • The length of the testing days will not change.
  • Day 1 (Foundations of Independent Practice [FIP]) will continue to be an approximately 7-hour testing session, including time for breaks and tutorials.
  • Day 2 (Advanced Clinical Medicine [ACM]) will continue to be a 9-hour testing session, including time for breaks and tutorials.
  • Day 1 (FIP) will continue to be divided into six 60-minute blocks.
  • Each FIP block will have 38 to 40 multiple-choice questions (MCQs).
  • The total number of MCQs on the FIP portion of the examination will be 233.
  • Day 2 (ACM) will continue to be divided into six 45-minute blocks of MCQs, and 13 computer-based case simulations (CCS).
  • Each ACM MCQ block will have 30 items.
  • The total number of MCQ items on the ACM portion of the examination will be 180.
  • Scores on examination forms taken before and after the change – as well as scores on forms with different numbers of items – will be comparable; the possible variation in the number of items per form will be accounted for in scoring the examination.

Score reports for Step 3 are usually available within four weeks of testing. However, because of the change described above, as well as routine modifications to the test item pool, score reporting for most Step 3 examinations administered from January 18, 2016 through April 30, 2016 will take longer. As noted above, the target date for reporting Step 3 scores for most examinees testing during this time period is May 25, 2016.

Read the original post at http://www.usmle.org/announcements/default.aspx

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Question of the week # 480

A 32-year-old man comes in regularly because his back hurts. You suspect malingering because he continually requests narcotic pain relievers and imaging studies of his spine. He has come 5 times in the last 6 months with the same problem, typically stating that the pain improves with exercise and leaning forward but is worse at night; pain also occurs at times in his buttocks and does not improve with rest. On physical examination you find no abnormalities of the spine besides inflexibility of the lower spine when he leans forward. Neurological examination is normal, including the absence of pain on a straight-leg raise test. X-ray of the spine and sacroiliac joint is normal. All blood tests including rheumatoid factor, ESR, and C-reactive protein are normal. Today, he again claims to have only minimal improvement with ibuprofen. He is requesting narcotics and a “doctor’s note to get out of work.” What is the next best step in management?

A. MRI of the sacroiliac joint
B. Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP)
C. HLA-B27 testing
D. Methotrexate
E. Report to employer for malingering
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