CRU Updates - November 2011

Posted November 30th, 2011

New question formats in February 2012 Step 3 Examination


One of the recommendations emerging from the Comprehensive Review of USMLE (CRU) process is that USMLE develop assessments focusing on the examinee's ability to access relevant information, evaluate its quality, and apply it to solving clinical problems. Among the formats under development to help meet this recommendation are multiple choice questions that assess an examinee's ability to appropriately interpret information presented both in the form of a research abstract and a pharmaceutical advertisement.

A small number of items with an associated drug ad or abstract will be introduced into the USMLE Step 3 Examination beginning in February 2012. Updated Step 3 Orientation and Practice Materials are available. Instructions for practicing with these new item formats are provided in the tutorial.

Pharmaceutical Advertisement (Drug Ad) Format

The drug ad item format includes a rich stimulus presented in a manner commonly encountered by a physician, eg, as a printed advertisement in a medical journal. Examinees must interpret the presented material in order to answer questions on various topics, including

  • Decisions about care of an individual patient
  • Biostatistics/epidemiology
  • Pharmacology/therapeutics
  • Development and approval of drugs and dietary supplements
  • Medical ethics

Abstract Format

The abstract item format includes a summary of an experiment or clinical investigation presented in a manner commonly encountered by a physician, eg, as an abstract that accompanies a research report in a medical journal. Examinees must interpret the abstract in order to answer questions on various topics, including

  • Decisions about care of an individual patient
  • Biostatistics/epidemiology
  • Pharmacology/therapeutics
  • Use of diagnostic studies