How Does The Time and Clock Work On Your Program?

How Does The Time and Clock Work On Your Program?

This may seem like a simple thing to the veteran CCS Students out there, but for the newly studying CCS students, learning the clock can take some time. The key students need to learn is that there are two types of clocks on the USMLE Step 3 CCS portion of the test: virtual time and real time. You mainly deal with virtual time. Real time is the amount of time that you are given to finish a case (either 10 min or 20 min). The only thing you need to worry about is to not run out of time. 

Virtual time is the time you tell the program to advance in the simulation (“not real time”). You could advance the simulation 10 years if you wanted (but the simulation would end before you got there). 

Here is a brief explanation of advancing the clock (same as the real test):

Virtual Time CCS Cases

The “On” option: This will advance the clock by giving an exact time you’d like to advance the clock to. If it’s Day 1 @9:00 and you want to advance the clock 30 min, then you would put Day 1 – Hour 9 – 30 min such as shown in the picture above. We feel that this is a confusing way to advance the time and recommend that you use the “In” or “With next available result” option. 

The “In” option: For this option, you simply put in how many days, hours, or minutes you’d like to advance the clock. If you wanted to advance 30 min, you just put 30 into the minute column. When you click “OK”, the virtual time will advance 30 min. If the time is Day 1 @9:00, the virtual time will advance to Day 1 @ 9:30am

The “With next available result” option: This is probably the most commonly used method to advance the clock. This will advance the clock depending on what is currently pending on your order sheet.  This will advance the clock to the order with the earliest report time. For example, if you have ordered 3 different orders: CBC – > report time in 30 min, LFTs -> report time in 60 min, and Pulse Ox -> report time in 1 min; it will advance the clock 1 min. If you had only the CBC and LFTs ordered, then it would advance the clock 30 min. If you have no orders on the order sheet, this will advance the clock to the next patient update. The only thing you have to be careful about on the real test is that if you have nothing on the order sheet or an order that you don’t realize the next report time is a day later. For example, if you had a report time of Day 2 @ 10:00 and it’s Day 1@9:30. You might mistakenly think that it’s only 30 min away, but if you advance the clock, it will advance the clock 24 hours and 30 minutes! Oops. This would likely cause you to lose a lot of points on the real test day, so be careful about that!

The “Call / see me as needed” option: This essentially will advance the clock until the case will end. You only do this if you are done ordering everything and have nothing further to do. If you have more to do with the patient, do not use this! 

We hope that this brief overview was helpful. The best way to practice this is with real simulation cases with a real program. You can try out our program by downloading the trial version here with 2 free cases. 

Thanks for reading. 

Release of Version 4.9.4

Release of Version 4.9.4.

We continue to work hard to make the program the best we can. We have updated to a new version: 4.9.4. We have updated to the latest back-end technology. We have made some minor adjustments to the formatting of labs. We have also fixed some minor bugs.

We will continue to work hard to make improvements. We have some ideas up our sleeve, but we don’t want to give away any surprises quite yet. Updates are free for paid customers. You can get the update by uninstalling your current version and reinstalling the new version here.

Thanks for your support. 

USMLE Announces Prometric Closures Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

USMLE Announces Prometric Closures Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Prometric Testing Sites Closed due to Corona Virus

The USMLE just recently announced that all prometric testing centers in the US and Canada will be closed for 30 days starting March 18th due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), so no one will be able to take any USMLE Step tests during this time. Anyone who was scheduled to test a USMLE test during the closure will have to reschedule. If you are taking the test outside of the US/Canada, you will have to go to the Prometric website to see if your specific testing center is closed.

The USMLE also announced that eligibility windows will automatically be extended, so you need not worry if you were pushing the edge of your eligibility window when scheduling for your Step test.

The silver lining from the closures is that you can have more time to study for it! Yeah! If you are studying for Step 3, 25% of your grade is from the CCS Portion of your test. Going through real simulated cases during this time of quarantine will help you be prepared for the CCS portion of Step 3. If you’d like to try out our product first before making a decision, try two free CCS cases located here

Stay safe out there! Spend some of you free time studying for the test to take your mind off the chaos going on in the world. 

Thanks for reading.

USMLE reduces number of allowed attempts for Step 3

USMLE reduces number of allowed attempts for Step 3

USMLE reduces number of allowed attempts for Step 3

The USMLE just recently announced that the allowed number of attempts to pass any Step or Step Component has been reduced from 6 to 4. This means that you have four attempts to pass Step 1; four attempts to pass Step 2 CS; four attempts to pass Step 2 CK; and four attempts to pass Step 3. This will be effective starting January 1, 2021. Most students do not have to worry about this, but some students struggle with standardized exams. It is more important than ever to make sure that you pass each exam the first time if possible. Each Step exam should be taken seriously, particularly Step 3 as many students are too busy in residency to study for Step 3. A common mistake is to think that there clinical experience in residency is enough to pass the exam.

In an ideal world, what you learn in practice would correlate to what is on standardized tests, but this is not the case. Many times you must study what the USMLE deems is important even if you feel that it is not relevant. Studying the CCS Cases portion of Step 3 is very important as it is 25% of your total grade on the Step 3 exam. Doing well on this section can help you raise your score or it can contribute to failing the test if performance on this section is not up to par.

The best way to learn for the CCS portion of the test is to simply practice cases. Practice cases that you will be seeing on test day and using the software that you will be using on test day. Of course, we would recommend using our product to help in your preparation to performing well on the CCS portion of the exam. If you’d like to try out our free 2 cases; you can download it and try it out here.

Thanks for reading.

How to Master the USMLE Step 3 CCS

How to Master the USMLE Step 3 CCS

How to Master the USMLE Step 3 CCS

Learning how to master the USMLE Step 3 CCS (commonly misspelled as USMLE Step 3 CSS) is an important piece of being able to pass/excel in the Step 3 exam. As the CCS Cases portion on the exam is roughly 25% of your total grade for the 2 day test, this is not a portion of the test that you should ignore as this can be the difference between passing and failing and having to retake a 2-day test. 

There are some good resources out there that can be helpful and provide good information for managing clinical cases. However, if you have not practiced using a real-time simulator, then you may struggle on test day learning to navigate the software and to understand how it works. The USMLE provides 6 cases for you to study, but most find this insufficient amount of material to be able to master the USMLE Step 3 CCS. Many people are unaware of the nuances of the program such as: how to order; how to advance time; patient updates; ordering a physical exam; importance of preventative care; the meaning of when the case ends before the maximum allowable time, and more.

You can read about these things, but until you actually practice on real software, it is likely that you will not fully understand how the program works, and you definitely do not want to try to “figure it out” during test day. You are already strapped for time, so learning how to navigate the software should be the least of your problems. In addition to helping learn how the real test day works, the program will also teach you good clinical skills on how to diagnose and treat 101 different clinical scenarios which will prepare you for test day.

Try our program out by clicking here and try out two free cases. 

Release of Version 4.9.1

We have released version 4.9.1. What’s new:

  • Improved logging feature to log more events
  • Improved memory management of the program

Enjoy. If you’d like to download the latest version, you can do so here.

New versions are free to paid customers.

If I meet a patient in the Emergency Room, and it’s not emergent, can I just refer the patient to their PCP?

If I meet a patient in the Emergency Room, and it’s not emergent, can I just refer the patient to their PCP?

If I meet a patient in the Emergency Room, and it's not emergent, can I just refer the patient to their PCP

The answer to this question is No!!! This may come as a shock to everyone, but the USMLE Step 3 CCS Cases portion of the exam is not real life. While coming to the ER with high cholesterol is typically not treated in an emergency room setting, if someone comes to emergency room, you treat EVERYTHING YOU CAN FIND! You are the generalist and once you meet this patient, you do everything for them in all types of settings including emergency room, inpatient, ICU, and office settings. This is not realistic, but knowing the Krebs cycle is not used very much in clinical practice and is fairly useless in real life, but it’s frequently tested on the USMLE (Not on Step 3, but you get the point we’re making).

If you don’t believe us, here’s a quote taken directly from the USMLE website: “In the generalist role, you must manage your patient in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Sometimes this may involve management in more than one location—initially caring for a patient in the emergency department, admitting the patient to the hospital, and discharging and following the patient in the outpatient setting.” The reference is located here.

So, to summarize, if you can find it, you treat it. It’s important to get consults for specialist if needed, but if it’s a problem that can be managed by a typical generalist, then for the sake of your grade, treat every problem and do not assume that “they will follow-up with their PCP.” YOU are their PCP!

We hope that it is helpful. If you feel you need more practice on the USMLE Step 3 CCS Cases portion of the exam, you can try out our two free practice cases here

“Your Performance on the Case Simulations Could Affect Whether You Pass or Fail”

Your Performance on the Case Simulations Could Affect Whether You Pass or Fail

This is a direct quote taken from the USMLE referenced here. The full quote is as follows:

“For Step 3, your performance on the case simulations will affect your Step 3 score and could affect whether you pass or fail. The proportional contribution of the score on the case simulations is no greater than the amount of time you are given to complete the case simulations.” 

This seems like an obvious statement, “yeah, if you fail CCS, you could fail the entire step 3 exam.” However, it states that the CCS portion of the test is graded in proportion to the rest of the test by the amount of time given for the CCS Portion. So lets do some math here:

Day #1 – 6 x 60 min blocks of MCQ = 360 min.
Day #2 – Total is approx 9 hours (9 hrs x 60 min = 540 min). 6 x 45 min blocks of MCQ = 270 min. There is a 5 min tutorial at the beginning and a 7 min tutorial for CCS cases and 45 min of breaks. 540 total time – 270 MCQ – 12 min tutorials – 45 min breaks = 213 min. We will round down to 210 min as it says “the second day is approximately 9 hours.” So total test time (not including breaks/tutorials) for both days is 840 min. The percentage that your grade if proportional to the other days from CCS Cases is 210/840 = 25% of your grade. So, we can estimate that the CCS Cases is 25% of your total grade for the entire Step 3 test. 25% is a significant portion of your grade, so you should be prepared for this.

Reading and studying CCS will not be sufficient. Even excellent students who are very knowledgeable can get tripped up if they are not familiar with how the program operates and how the program works in advancing time and getting results. The only effective way to prepare for the CCS portion of the test is to practice with real cases. We of course are biased in saying that since we offer 101 real cases that you can study. You can download 2 free cases to try out our program here.

Change in passing score for USMLE Step 3

Step 3 Change Minimum Passing Score

In Dec 2019, the USMLE announced that it has changed the minimum passing score again from 196 to 198 for the USMLE Step 3 exam effective as of January 1, 2020. In Dec 11, 2015, the USMLE changed the minimum passing score from 190 to 196. The reasons that are given for the change is that residency directors are seeing the USMLE Step 3 as a pass/fail exam, so apparently, the USMLE is feeling that it should raise the minimum passing grade. Other things were mentioned that justified the change such as “trends in examinee performance” and “precision of pass/fail classifications.” It might be that too many people were scoring higher, so they wanted to adjust the grading downward. There has been discussions to make the USMLE Step 3 Pass/Fail completely, but then again, these discussions have been going on for years and years.

Therefore, there is less leeway to “get by” on the multiple choice portion of the test and neglect the step 3 simulation part the exam. It is getting more and more important to be prepared for both sections. We are of course biased in our recommendations that you use our program to study for the USMLE Step 3 CCS portion of the test. You can try out our trial version and download it here:

It does seem that there seems to be a grade creep over the years. The minimum score has increased by 8 points over the last 5 years, So, we might be doing a similar post in 2025 saying that the minimum passing grade has increased to 200. We recommend that you keep your testing skills sharp and not even get close to the not-passing rate. This is an obvious statement, but many students either get too overconfident or are too busy with residency duties that they do not prepare adequately for Step 3. This can be very embarrassing if you fail, and now there are 2 points less in your padding for passing.Study hard!

We got a makeover!

We got a Makeover!

As you may have noticed, we got a makeover! We redesigned our site to update the look and make things easier and simpler. As typical for technology updates, it didn’t go as smooth as we would have liked. If you had any trouble with our site over the last two days, we apologize, but all the issues should have been resolved.

We hope you like the new look. Happy Holidays!