Urgency Functionality Removed from the Real Test (and ours too)!

When the USMLE Step 3 CCS Cases first came out, they had the functionality called Urgency. After each order, you would select how “urgent” the order was. You would select “Routine” or “stat.” The USMLE realized students would agonize over an order was routine or stat which would be distracting (In our opinion, they never did grade the difference between urgency or stat – this was heavily emphasized on exam preps, but we felt that this was an unnecessary detail). About a year later, the USMLE decided to just make all orders “stat” and not have the option of “routine.” This is what our program also showed for a long time. We received a lot of e-mails asking us about where “routine” went, and we had to explain that the real test eliminated this function.

Now, the USMLE has eliminated “stat” as well, so there is no Urgency options anymore. You will no longer need to even think about whether an order is “stat” or “routine” anymore. For consistency sake, we also have removed this functionality as well, so in new versions, there will no longer be a “stat” or “routine” options when ordering orders.

You will still have the option to select “Frequency” which is an uncommonly used option in the USMLE. The new box will look like this:

We stay up-to-date in the changes occurring on the real test so that you will not be surprised on test day. We recommend that you try our CCS Cases simulator for free here.

Practice makes perfect.

Final Diagnosis Window Removed from Real Test (and ours too)

This window may have looked familiar. At the end of the case, if you ended the case prior to the case running out of time, this window would pop-up (it would pop-up on the real exam as well). You would enter the diagnosis of what you felt that the patient had. This window has never been graded. We always felt that it was confusing that you would enter data which is never looked at or graded at all.

A lot of students would focus unnecessarily on getting the correctly worded diagnosis entered into this window which was never graded. We have been saying for years that it was never graded, but still unnecessary attention was focused on this.

The USMLE has removed this window from the real test, so you will no longer enter any information into a window. When you hit the “End Case” button at the end of the case, then it will go to the break window and allow you to move on to the next case.

In order to be consistent, we also have removed the final diagnosis window in our program. The best way to prepare for the USMLE Step 3 CCS cases is to practice in real simulation software. You can try out 2 free cases here.

Thanks for reading.

Release of Version 4.5.1

We had a big version jump because we’ve been testing and upgrading internal versions. We have released Version 4.5.1. There are some neat features and updates that we think that you will enjoy. Here is what’s new:

  • 4 additional custom time limits added.
  • Added the ability to generate a random length of a network lag.
  • Urgency functionality (Routine vs Stat) was removed as this was removed on the real test.
  • Improved Night Mode (Reverse Color in the real test).
  • Removed Final Diagnosis Window as this was removed on the real test.
  • Improved performance.
  • Added a User Log Data to the Grading Section. You can track all the orders that were ordered, when they were ordered, and when the results were given.
  • Added the ability to disable grading (not sure why you’d want to do that, but it’s an option now).
  • Updated the back-end software for better performance and compatibility.

As usual, updates are free to paid users. You can download the update here.

Enjoy! We will continue to offer updates and improve the program.

Changes to Step 3 CCS Grade Reporting

Changes to Step 3 CCS Grade Reporting

In our previous posts, the CCS Reporting gave you a performance report independent of your multiple choice performance. Meaning, you will receive feedback on how you did the CCS Grading report with a confidence interval in the “Lower Performance” “Borderline Performance” and “Higher performance.” The USMLE has changed the way your CCS performance is reported. Now instead of giving you an independent performance on how you did on the CCS portion of the test, it will tell you how you did compared to how you did on the multiple choice portion of the test. Therefore, if you did poorly on the multiple choice portion of the test, and you did poorly on the CCS portion of the test, your results would show that your CCS case performance was the “Same” “Relative to your Overall Step 3 Performance.” Your report would look something like this:

Changes to Step 3 CCS Grade Reporting

This makes it much more difficult to determine how you did on just the CCS Portion of the test, and you will have to make a lot of assumptions based on how you did on the multiple choice portion of the test. In our opinion, this is unfortunate because this is much less helpful in determining one’s performance on the CCS Cases because it does not tell you how you did independent of the multiple choice part of Step 3. We feel that the prior reporting was much more helpful, but this is the way it is now, so we have to get used to the new CCS reporting now.

It’s important to be prepared for the CCS portion of the test, so we recommend that you practice case after case after case so that you will become a master at the CCS portion which is a large percentage of your grade.

You can try our program out free by downloading it here.

Release of 4.0.3

We have released version 4.0.3 today. We have made the following improvements:

  • Improved the activation process
  • Made some minor user interface changes to the case selection menu
  • Minor updates to select cases
  • Updated the back-end software to the latest technology
  • Added the ability to Clear your data. Essentially, this will allow you to delete all of your case feedback. This has been a request from our users.

We are continuing to improve and have some exciting updates/features coming in the future. We know some want to be able to use on portable devices which we are working on. This is a bit tricky, so it will take us some time. We will post more information when we have it available.

As usual, new versions are free to paid users. You can download the new version here.

Enjoy!

How come my CCS case ends at 8 minutes when it’s a 20 minute case?

CCS Cases ends early

We have been getting this question a lot lately. Users have been frequently contacting us thinking there is a bug in the program because their 20 minute case is ending at 8 minutes. No, there is no bug. This is how the real test program works as well. If you do the correct things either in diagnosis or treatment, then the case will end before the allotted 20 minutes. This typically is a good sign if you do the right time. However, if you advance the virtual time too far without doing the correct orders, the case will also end prematurely.

So, it’s okay! Take a deep breath – This is just the way it works. If you want to do an experiment and just let the case sit there without doing anything, you will notice that the case will last a full 20 minutes. This is good preparation for test day, so you don’t get surprised when this happens on test day as this is a frequent occurrence. We’ve written about this before in our blog about cases ending early, but we thought it would be a good thing to re-emphasize.

If you’d like to test out having the case end early, go to our trial page and download our trial version here, and make the diagnosis quickly and treat appropriate, and you will notice that the case ends early. It can take some getting used to, but after doing a dozen cases, you will get the hang of it.

Release of version 4.0.2

We continue to improve our product. We have released a new version: version 4.0.2. This has made some minor improvements to cases and cleaned up some things. We know that people are anxious to have our product work on more mobile devices that don’t run on OSX/Windows such as iPads/iPhones/Android phones/Chrome Books/etc. Although the display screens will not be the same as a normal computer screen, we are working on something to accommodate this. This is a difficult project as these devices don’t have the computing power needed to run the software, but we are looking into having servers do some of the heavy lifting. More announcements to come on this. It may take us awhile to come up with a solution for this.

What percent correct is considered a passing score on your program?

A common question that we receive is: “What percent correct is considered a passing score on your program?” Essentially, how will my scores on your program translate to a score on the real USMLE Step 3 exam. There is a Pass / Fail cut off for the USMLE Step 3 exam in total. That number is 196 – This includes the multiple choice part of the test. However, there is no “Pass / Fail” cut off for each individual case.

There are 13 CCS cases that you will have to complete on test day. Each case is worth between 2% -2.5% of your total grade.

You don’t pass or fail each case. There isn’t a cut off. Your scores are compiled into a total score and then combined with your multiple choice and given a final numeric value. If you get above a 196, you pass the USMLE Step 3 exam.

Your grade read out will look like this regarding the Step 3 CCS portion of the exam:

What percent correct is considered a passing score on your program?

If you would like the “xxxxxx” or range of your performance to be on the “Higher Performance,” we’d recommend to attempt to achieve a basic competence of 80% or above on each of the cases. 

Some people come to us and are very upset that they didn’t get 100% passing score on each exam. They say that our program is flawed and that in the real world the treatment they offered is top-notch and they should be allotted 100% because of their expertise in handling the case. We kindly remind them that the CCS Cases program is not real life. There are things that are graded in the program that you would likely not do in real life.  Remember, it is likely a computer that is grading your performance (just like our program), so we recommend getting used to it!

Once you are finished and have successfully passed your test, you can go back and practice the way you feel most comfortable, but our product is not designed to train you to practice on real people. Our product is designed for you to pass and do well on the USMLE Step 3 CCS Cases! Ideally, it would be one and the same, but realistically, they are two separate skills.

If you’d like to try out our program, click here to download free trial version of our software.

Release of version 4.0.0

We have been working hard and have finally released a major update: version 4.0.0.

Things may look the same on the outside and run the same, but we have essentially “replaced” the engine. Everything “under the hood” has been changed or updated. This was done to assure stability in future versions of Windows and Mac and to accommodate updating technologies. You might notice some graphic user interface (GUI) updates in the Mac version. The installation process for the Mac was also simplified. We also updated some cases to the most up-to-date treatment protocols. We will continue to improve our software. As always, updates are free to paid users.

We are working on some new features, so we will release these when completed. Enjoy.

What can you expect on test day for the CCS portion of the test?

Student studying for USMLE Step 3 CCS portion

What can you expect on test day for the CCS portion of the test?

Many people are naturally concerned and ask us the question “What can you expect on test day for the CCS portion of the test?” You will be taking your test in a testing center. Typically, each testing center is a carefully monitored room with a bunch of computers divided by cubicles. You will have to empty your pockets and store your things in a locker prior to entering the test room. You can only keep your photo ID in your pocket. You will have to have your finger-print scanned each time you enter and each time you exit the testing room.

You will be given a laminated card with a dry-erase marker and an eraser to allow you to take notes. The room is monitored at all times and there are cameras recording everyone in the room. Big Brother really is watching you during your CCS test day. People have stated that the testing room does vary in temperature and can be either too warm or too hot, so dress accordingly. Test takers have also noted that the quickness of the Internet connection does vary dramatically from testing center to testing center. This can affect your score if you are slowed down by loading delays.

There are 13 cases on the CCS portion of the test. You will be given either 20 minutes of real time or 10 minutes of real time to complete the case. We recommend that you try our software to get used to having time limits on your cases.

If you really want to answer the question of: What can you expect on test day for the CCS portion of the test?, then you should download our free trial of our product. Our program is nearly identical to what you will see on the real test-day. You can download our product here.

Happy studying!