USMLE Exam Tips – How I Passed the USMLE Step 3 Exam: An Exam Prep Story

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How to Prepare for USMLE Step 3 - Exam Prep Story

How I Passed the USMLE Step 3 Exam: An Exam Prep Story

Preparing for USMLE Step 3 exam? Hear USMLE exam tips from a recent USMLE Step 3 exam taker.
If you are reading this, you are likely preparing to take the USMLE Step 3 exam, the third and final (yes, the END is in sight!) United States Medical Licensing Exam!  Today's "how I prepared for the USMLE Step 3" exam story offers insights and tips for how to prepare for USMLE Step 3 exam from recent USMLE Step 3 test taker, Jacob Perera, MD, a resident at Mercy Hospital St. Louis Mayo Clinic, PM&R class of 2025.

My USMLE Exam Prep Story

Walking out of my USMLE Step 3 exam, I felt like I had just awoken from getting my wisdom teeth taken out. I was dazed, confused, and wondering where the nearest Taco Bell was. I felt like the exam was in a different language, but I had been down this road before…

Nobody feels amazing after walking out from one of these exams, and this was not the first time I felt this way. Still, I trusted my instincts that have proven themselves so many times before, and they came through yet again. I passed by a wide margin and exceeded my own expectations. 

A lot of students and residents do not take Step 3 seriously, but just like the other USMLE exams, it deserves our attention.

I spent about 3 weeks going through question banks and constantly evaluating myself with practice exams. What they say is true -- the more questions you do, the better you will feel. But when doing questions, take care to understand the explanations, and don’t just try to blow through as many questions as possible. 

I took a practice exam each week and tracked my progress through my question blocks. I alternated between doing multiple choice questions and learning the CCS case software, which is a new component to the Step 3 exam from the previous USMLE tests. These CCS cases are the first element of the USMLE exams that really tests our clinical judgement, and your instincts will play a large role in this. Knowing who is sick and who is not is always the first step. 

During my study period, I made sure to set a schedule including take some time each day for myself so that I would not get burnt out. This was essential to keeping my spirits up. After the exam, I enjoyed myself and spent time with friends and family while awaiting the results. 

My biggest piece of advice is to make sure that you somehow track the questions you got wrong and maintain a document or database with the information you would have needed to get those questions right. Review this document often to fill in knowledge gaps. Remember, do not think that your USMLE step 3 question banks directly reflect your performance on the exam because initially your scores will scare you, but they will improve with time. 

Finally, and most importantly, trust yourself! You have proven yourself so many times in your medical journey, and this exam is no different. You’ve got this! 

These CCS cases are the first element of the USMLE exams that really tests our clinical judgement, and your instincts will play a large role in this. Knowing who is sick and who is not is always the first step. 
Jacob Perera, MD

Need USMLE Step 3 review?

Med-Challenger provides a high-quality USMLE Step 3 review course with 1000's of case-based questions, detailed answers, time-saving remediation features and a low-cost membership plan that can save you money, time, and stress throughout your clinical career.  Special offers available.

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