When to Take Step 3: The Ultimate Guide

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Are you done with your step 1 and step 2 USMLE, and now you’re considering step 3? If you are, then you want to know when do you take step 3. You definitely want to know about the best months to take step 3, right? Well, we’re going to talk about that so you can create a plan.

You’re already going to be entering into a residency program that you were accepted to because of your step 1 and likely step 2 scores. This can cause more people to think that the step 3 exam isn’t as important because you’re already in a residency, but we’re going to talk about what you need to know on that as well.

With this article, we’re going to talk about whether you need step 3 when to take step 3 if you do need it, and what you need to know about preparing. After all, your medical training is on the home stretch now, and you want to do everything you can to make this process as smooth and easy as it can be.

Does Step 3 Even Matter?

Does Step 3 Even Matter?

Does Step 3 Even Matter?

When we start talking about Step 3, we have to look at if it’s even an important test to take. For many, this is the one that they skip if they don’t have a lot of time, or they at least question whether they even need to bother. Well, we believe that this exam is absolutely essential and can help you to get into programs that you want as you continue your medical training after graduation.

In general, step 3 is used for students who are seeking a fellowship after their residency, though not all fellowship program directors look at this score. It’s also useful for students who plan to specialize, and especially in primary care fields. It’s a good idea to do the work and to take the exam so that you have something else that you can show to program directors that you have the skills necessary to do well in their program.

Why is When You Take the Step 3 Exam Important?

Why is When You Take the Step 3 Exam Important?

When should you take the step 3 exam? Well, because this one is not used by as many program directors, it’s not necessarily as important when you take the exam. The most important thing is to note that you aren’t able to take it until after you have graduated from medical school. Once your degree has been properly registered (which can take up to 12 weeks), you will be eligible to take this exam. Most who do, however, take it a year after they finish medical school.

The year in the middle allows for time to learn in a residency program and to gain additional post-graduation education and background. While this is not required, it can give you a little bit of help in preparing for the exam. On the other hand, for some, it becomes even more challenging to study after completing their school-based learning.

In these instances, it may be better to take the exam right away, so you are not divided between studying and your program. For others, it can be a bit difficult to make themselves studying during the short amount of time they have to themselves in the middle, so it might make sense to wait. Having the best resources is essential for Step 3 prep. Check out our guide on the best Step 3 review materials here.

How Early Do I Have to Register for My Step 3 Test Date?

How Early Do I Have to Register for My Step 3 Test Date?

How Early Do I Have to Register for My Step 3 Test Date?

Are you looking for the best times to take the step 3 exam? You are able to register up to 6 months before the start of the eligibility period that you select. Keep in mind that, for this exam, you are not able to apply until you have graduated from your medical school. This means you need to wait until your diploma has been registered before you will be able to select the time frame that you would like to take the exam.

If you receive your diploma and are ready to take the exam right away, you may be able to schedule it for a shorter time frame than the six month period. You get to choose the eligibility period that you want. Each eligibility period is three months in length, so make sure that you choose wisely because you are only given one opportunity to change your eligibility period. You will then be able to select a test time within that period.

What Months Are Best for Taking the USMLE Step 3 Exam?

What Months Are Best for Taking the USMLE Step 3 Exam?

When it comes to taking this exam, the best months to take step 3 are right around the middle to the end of summer. Most commonly, students choose to take the exam in May or June, though August and September are prevalent times of the year as well. It seems this is the one portion of the USMLE where students scatter a little more in their preferences of the best times to take step 3.

When it comes to the least popular times of the year to take the exam, October and January actually come in at the bottom of the list. Other months are scattered throughout, with months like March and December being right in the middle of things.

Does the Day of the Week Matter for When to Take the USMLE Step 3 Exam?

Does the Day of the Week Matter for When to Take the USMLE Step 3 Exam?

Does the Day of the Week Matter for When to Take the USMLE Step 3 Exam?

The day of the week that you choose to take the USMLE Step 3 is really going to be up to you. That’s because there’s no better date or time than others. It’s all about how you’re going to study and whether you’re going to be prepared for the exam on the date that you choose. In general, Fridays are an excellent day to take the exam because they give you a weekend off to recover after.

When it comes to the USMLE Step 3, however, you’re already working in a residency program in most cases (unless your program allowed for you to take a summer off first). This means that you won’t necessarily have time off after your exam, even if you take it on a Friday. As a result, this exam is generally the same no matter which day of the week you take it, though if you can schedule a couple of days off to relax after it will be a good idea.

Should You Take Your Step 3 Exam Before Residency Starts?

Should You Take Your Step 3 Exam Before Residency Starts?

Taking your step 3 exam before residency is going to be a difficult task for most. While it is possible and some students prefer this way, it requires you to spend a great deal of time studying right before you enter into what will be a very intense program. For most, this means that it’s a good idea to wait until after you get into your residency program to start studying. This gives you a bit of time to get into the swing of things and time to take a little bit of a break between finishing your education and starting your residency.

How Should I Time My Test Date to My Step 3 Study Schedule?

How Should I Time My Test Date to My Step 3 Study Schedule?

How Should I Time My Test Date to My Step 3 Study Schedule?

If you’re looking to time out the right test date, you should actually look at your study schedule to do it. Instead of timing your test date around studying, plan to study around the test date. Figure out when you would like to take the test or perhaps when you want to have your results (which will give you a timeline of when to take the test) and then plan out the study schedule around that.

Look at the materials you’re planning to study, such as UWorld and test books, and then plan out how much you should study from each of them in order to complete them by the test date you selected. This will help you get through the studying more quickly and will also make sure that you don’t get discouraged or overwhelm yourself, thinking you’re not ready.

What Are Core Essentials for USMLE Step 3 Prep?

What Are Core Essentials for USMLE Step 3 Prep?

When it comes down to it, there are a few essential tips that you should be paying attention to when studying for your USMLE Step 3. We’ve got a whole different article that will walk you through a number of essential steps to follow and tips to get a high score, but here we’re going to focus on just a few of the most important things that you can and should be doing.

1. Upgrade your UWorld Qbank.

There are other portions of UWorld that include the Clinical Case Simulation and the Biostatistics Subject Review. Each of these sections will give you a little more insight into the topics that are on the Step 3 exam. These aren’t offered with the general subscription, so you’ll need to pay a little more for them, but they’re worth it.

2. You don’t have to take both days together.

This is a 2-day exam, but you can schedule the two test days with time in between. This is an excellent idea to think about when you’re prepping for the exam. Schedule yourself a little time to review additional material or just to relax between the two tests.

3. Learn the software.

3. Learn the software.

The second portion of the USMLE Step 3 utilizes a specific type of software that you’ll need to learn how to use. Make sure that you practice this long before test day so that you are familiar with how it works. And also, make sure that you know how to be efficient but effective.

4. Study the ethics.

Day one of your exam is going to test you on ethics, among other things, so make sure you’re studying up on the ethics portions of your material. First Aid can be an excellent way to find this as well as the UWorld questions.

5. Study the diagnosis.

The CCS portion of your exam is likely going to be one of the harder parts of the whole thing (along with ethics), so make sure that you’re studying this. That means working on how to diagnose different patients and how to place orders based on the symptoms that the patient is presenting with. You also need to keep in mind that monitoring patients during this process is essential as well.

Wrapping Things Up: When to Take the Step 3 Exam

In the end, your Step 3 exam may not seem as important as the others, but it can definitely give you a bit more in the way of support when applying for specialties and for a fellowship. You’ll want to take a closer look at when you want to take it, especially in the summer. Then, make sure that you’re studying and using all of the materials that you can to get ready, especially UWorld.

Did you like this post? This is just one of our When to Take guides. Be sure to also check out our ultimate guides on:

> When to Take Step 1

> When to Take Step 2

We also give a ton of free medical school study tips on our site that you can check out here.

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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