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NCQA CErtification

MEDICAL LICENSING EXAMINATION

Frequently Asked Questions for:

USMLE Step 3
SPEX
Transcripts

  USMLE Step 3 FAQs: 
  1. When is Step 3 offered?
  2. What are the Step 3 fees for the 2013/2014 application?
  3. Is there a deadline for receipt of the Step 3 application?
  4. Can I apply before medical school graduation or issuance of my ECFMG certificate?
  5. Can I choose my Step 3 eligibility period?
  6. Do I have to take Step 3 for the medical board of the state where I reside?
  7. Do I have to submit a new Certification of Identity Form each time I apply?
  8. Why do I need to provide an email address?
  9. How can I monitor the status of my Step 3 application?
  10. Can I reschedule my appointment for Step 3?
  11. Does it matter where I take the Step 3 exam?
  12. Can I extend my 90-day eligibility period?
  13. How can I obtain sample questions or study materials for the USMLE Step 3?
  14. What if I lose my scheduling permit?
  15. How soon will my scores be released?
  16. What do I do if I have a problem at the test center while testing?
  17. How do I notify USMLE of a name change/correction or address change?
  18. Can I make a request for a recheck of the step 3 exam scores and how can I do this?
  19. I have seen FCVS mentioned, what is FCVS?
  20. What browsers should I use to complete the FSMB online applications?
1. When is Step 3 offered?
  Step 3 is administered throughout the year, except for the first two weeks of January, and any state/federal holidays, at Prometric Testing Centers.

2. What are the Step 3 fees for the 2013/2014 application?
  The 2013/2014 Step 3 application fee is $800 or higher, depending on the state medical board for whom you are sitting the exam. See the Fees section for full details.

3. Is there a deadline for receipt of the Step 3 application?
  Not at this time. Please contact the FSMB for more details.

4. Can I apply before medical school graduation or issuance of my ECFMG certificate?
  No, as part of the USMLE requirements to take the Step 3, you should apply only after the date of graduation on your medical school diploma or the issue date of your ECFMG or Fifth Pathway certificate. Recent medical school graduates, it can take up to six weeks to verify degrees before approval for Step 3.

If you submit a Step 3 application prior to graduation from medical school or issuance of the ECFMG or Fifth Pathway certificate your application will be cancelled and a portion of your fees forfeited.

5. Can I choose my Step 3 eligibility period?
  No. For reasons involving verification of the postgraduate training required by most boards to sit Step 3, eligibility periods are assigned immediately once your application has been processed and approved. The 2013/2014 application cycle runs through July 31, 2014. Please refer to Bulletin of Information for more information and the FSMB website for any updates.

6. Do I have to take Step 3 for the medical board of the state where I reside?
  No. While many people do this, it is not required.

7. Do I have to submit a new Certification of Identity Form each time I apply?
  No, beginning with the 2005 Step 3 application materials, the Step 3 Certification of Identity Form containing your signature and photograph will be valid for a period of five years from date of receipt. Once this Step 3 Certificate of Identity is on file with FSMB and it qualified you to sit for Step 3, it is not necessary to submit another if you must re-apply for Step 3.

8. Why do I need to provide an email address
 
An email address must be provided on your Step 3 application because it will be used to notify you of your Step 3 application processing status, approvals, scheduling permits and score report releases. You must make sure that you allow emails from usmle@fsmb.org to be received by your email address. Examinees that provide email addresses ending in an .edu and some free accounts will either reject the email notifications all together or will send the email to your spam or junk email folders. Non-receipt of emails will not be accepted to request eligibility extensions, partial refunds or transcripts of scores for the Step 3.

9. How can I monitor the status of my Step 3 application?
 
Although the FSMB will attempt to notify you of incomplete documents, application approvals, scheduling permit availability and score report releases, it is your responsibility to know the status of your application at all stages. You can monitor your application status by visiting the USMLE Candidate website, calling 817-868-4041 or emailing usmle@fsmb.org.

10. Can I reschedule my appointment for Step 3?
 
If you are unable to keep your testing appointment on the scheduled date(s) or at the scheduled location, you may change your date(s) or center by following the instructions on your Scheduling Permit for contacting Prometric. You will need to provide your Prometric Confirmation Number when you cancel and reschedule. A fee may be charged if you change your appointment, depending upon how much notice you provide when making the change. If you reschedule, your rescheduled test date(s) must fall within your assigned eligibility period.

11. Does it matter where I take the Step 3 exam?
  No. While you will sit Step 3 under the eligibility requirements of a specific licensing authority, you can take the exam at any Prometric test center in the United States or its territories.

12. Can I extend my 90-day eligibility period?
  Yes, if you are unable to take the test within your eligibility period, a one-time contiguous 90 day extension to your eligibility period is possible. Due to the need for re-verification of eligibility prior to approving extensions, requests must arrive no later than 25 days after the end of the original eligibility period. Use the Eligibility Extension application found here.

13. How can I obtain sample questions or study materials for the USMLE Step 3?
  Software resembling the actual test delivery system is available on the USMLE website. It is important and recommended that you acquaint yourself with the software before testing. It is important to take advantage of this opportunity prior to the exam, as practice time cannot be accommodated on the test day.

14. What if I lose my scheduling permit?
  If you lose your scheduling permit you can print a duplicate permit, by going to the Candidate website.

15. How soon will my scores be released?
  Allow at least eight weeks after your test date to be notified of your score report availability. If you do not receive an email notification of your score report availability, you should check the Candidate website. Your score report will remain available for approximately 120 days from the date of email notification.

16. What do I do if I have a problem at the test center while testing?
  If you experience a computer problem or any other problem during the test, notify test center staff immediately. The testing software is designed to allow the test to restart at the point it was interrupted. In most cases, your test can be restarted at the point of interruption with no loss of testing time. However, it is possible that a technical problem may occur that does not permit you to complete your examination. In the rare event that this occurs, please send a written description of the incident to the FSMB via email to test administration staff at testadmin@nbme.org and the FSMB at usmle@fsmb.org, within two weeks of your test date. Include your scheduled dates for testing, the test center you are scheduled to test at and your USMLE id number. Your problem will be thoroughly investigated, and if necessary, arrangements will be made to allow you to test at a later date.

17. How do I notify USMLE of a name change/correction or address change?
 

All requests for a change of name must be submitted in writing using the name change/correction form. Visit the Forms section of this website for the name change/correction authorization form. You must also include a copy of your driver's license or passport showing the changed/corrected name. Address and email changes must be made through the Candidate website.

18. Can I make a request for a recheck of the step 3 exam scores and how can I do this?
  Standard procedures ensure that the scores reported for each examinee are an accurate reflection of the responses recorded by the computer, and a change in score based on a recheck is an extremely remote possibility. In a recheck, staff will take an examinee's computer record and, using an independent scoring system, check to verify that the originally reported score is accurate. The recheck is not processed manually and it is not a reassessment of the correctness of your answers.

If you wish to proceed with a recheck, the Federation of State Medical Boards charges a $65.00 processing fee per exam for a recheck of the Step 3 examination. It is a Federation policy not to process any recheck until the appropriate fees are received in full. Please send this form alongwith a letter with your name, USMLE or Social Security number, exam date, mailing address and email address, along with your $65.00 check or money order (payable to the Federation of State Medical Boards) to the address provided below and your recheck will then be processed. Your request must be received in our office within 90 days of your score report being released.

EXAMS - STEP 3 RECHECKS
Federation of State Medical Boards
400 Fuller Wiser Rd., Suite 300
Euless, TX 76039-3856

Requests for score rechecks can take four to six weeks to be processed.

19. I have seen FCVS mentioned, what is FCVS?
  Federation Credentials Verification Service (FCVS) is a uniform process for state medical boards to obtain a verified, primary source record of a physician's core medical credentials. FCVS obtains primary source verification of medical education, postgraduate training, examination history, board action history, board certification and identity. This repository of information allows a physician and/or physician assistant to establish a confidential, lifetime professional portfolio with FCVS which can be forwarded, at the physician's request, to any state medical board that has established an agreement with FCVS, hospital, health care or any other entity. [ More on FCVS ].

20. What browsers should I use to complete the FSMB online applications?
  The FSMB online applications may be completed using Internet Explorer Version 7 or higher, Safari Version 5 or above, Google Chrome Version 22 or above, or Mozilla Firefox Version 16 or higher. All supported browsers must allow cookies and have JavaScript enabled. All features may not be fully supported or available through other browsers.

Send additional questions to usmle@fsmb.org or call (817) 868-4041.

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  SPEX FAQs: 
  1. Am I eligible to take SPEX?
  2. How do I register for the SPEX?
  3. Where and when is SPEX offered?
  4. What is the SPEX fee?
  5. What kind of exam is SPEX?
  6. What is the best way to prepare for the SPEX?
  7. I'm a specialist - will I be able to pass the SPEX?
  8. Upon receipt of my Scheduling Permit, how long do I have to sit for the exam?
  9. Can I extend my 90-day eligibility period?
  10. Can I reschedule my appointment during my eligibility period?
  11. Is break time available during administration of the SPEX?
  12. When will scores be available?
  13. If I fail the SPEX exam the first time can I take it again right away or is there a waiting period?
  14. If I take the SPEX for one licensing board or by Self-Nomination, can I later use those scores for licensure in another jurisdiction?
  15. What if I need special arrangements to accommodate my disability?
  16. I don't have a copy of my medical license, which is required as a part of the application process. What should I do?

1. Am I eligible to take the SPEX?
  Eligibility requirements for admission to the SPEX are dependent on your method of application. To be eligible to take the examination through the board-sponsored process, you must have held a valid, unrestricted license in a United States or Canadian jurisdiction and otherwise have met eligibility requirements established by the individual licensing boards pursuant to their statutory and regulatory provisions. To be eligible to take the examination through the self-nominated process, you must have a current, unrestricted license to practice medicine in a United States or Canadian jurisdiction.

2. How do I register for the SPEX?
  You may click here to go through the eligibility requirements and download the SPEX application. Complete and return the application along with the appropriate fees and supporting documentation to the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). Upon receipt of your application, we will determine your eligibility, process your application, and register you for the exam. Allow one to three weeks for the processing of your application. A Scheduling Permit will be mailed to you once your application has been approved.

3. Where and when is SPEX offered?
  The SPEX is administered through a national computer-based testing network called Prometric Testing Centers. The test can be scheduled Monday through Friday throughout the year; some locations have Saturday hours. There are more than 300 test sites across the United States and Canada. Test site information will be provided to the applicant upon contacting Prometric to schedule their exam. Test site information is also available on Prometric's website.

4. What is the SPEX fee?
 

The SPEX exam fee is $1300 per administration, $650 of which is non-refundable. If you need to extend your eligibility period, you may submit an eligibility extension request for review. If your request is approved, a one-time contiguous 90-day extension may be granted. To request an extension, you must complete the Eligibility Extension application form and submit a $65 processing fee.

5. What kind of exam is SPEX?
  SPEX is a one-day, computer-administered examination that focuses on a core of clinical knowledge and relevant underlying basic science principles deemed necessary to form a reasonable foundation for the safe and effective practice of medicine. Content of the SPEX is intended to reflect the knowledge and cognitive abilities of all practicing physicians, regardless of specialty practiced. The exam consists of seven blocks of 64 minutes each (48 questions in each block).

6. What is the best way to prepare for the SPEX?
 

The FSMB provides the SPEX Information Bulletin and a practice test that should provide familiarity with the formats used in the exam.

7. I'm a specialist - will I be able to pass the SPEX?
  Every physician, regardless of specialty, is expected to be familiar with a core of clinical principles that are essential for safe and effective patient care. Examinees who have stayed current with the general medical literature are unlikely to encounter many questions on the SPEX with which they are totally unfamiliar. SPEX content is constructed around two primary dimensions reflecting experience in medical practice - disease categories and physician tasks - not by specialty areas. A complete description of the examination content is outlined in the SPEX Information Bulletin.

8. Upon receipt of my Scheduling Permit, how long do I have to sit for the exam?
  Your scheduling permit will include the beginning and end dates for a 90-day eligibility period in which to take the exam. If your eligibility expires before you take the exam, a new application and fee must be submitted.

9. Can I extend my 90-day eligibility period?
  Yes, if you are unable to take the test within your eligibility period, a one-time contiguous 90 day extension to your eligibility period is possible. requests must arrive no later than 25 days after the end of the original eligibility period. Use the Eligibility Extension application form found here.

10. Can I reschedule my appointment during my eligibility period?
  Yes, but with certain restrictions. In order to reschedule within your eligibility period, Prometric must be notified at least 5 business days in advance of your test date. To reschedule your examination, you must call the 800-telephone number provided on your scheduling permit. To cancel your application, you must submit a letter, with your signature, to the Federation of State Medical Boards to one of the following:

SPEX
Federation of State Medical Boards
400 Fuller Wiser Road, Suite 300
Euless, TX 76039

Fax: (817) 868-4098
Scan and email: spex@fsmb.org

11. Is break time available during administration of the SPEX?
  Forty-five minutes is allotted for break time and can be divided in any manner you prefer. For example, you can take a short break at your seat after you complete a block, or you can take a longer break for a meal outside the test center after you complete a few blocks. If you complete a block of the test or tutorial section early, the remaining time will be available for breaks. It will not be available to complete other blocks of the test. As you progress through the blocks of the test, you should monitor how many blocks are remaining and how much break time is remaining. If you take a long break and exceed the allocated or accumulated break time, your time to complete the last block(s) in the testing session will be reduced. When section time runs out, you will not be able to move to any new screens. The computer will close the section.

12. When will scores be available?
  Scores are mailed out approximately two to four weeks after the exam has been taken. Scores are reported by mail on official transcript paper and will not be given out over the telephone, by fax, or by email.

13. If I fail the SPEX exam the first time can I take it again right away or is there a waiting period?
  A self-nominated examinee is limited to three attempts within a 12-month period. The examinee may retake the SPEX after the initial attempt with no waiting period and with the submission of a new application and fee. A third attempt requires a mandatory 90-day waiting period from the previous attempt. Any subsequent attempts require a one-year waiting period from the initial attempt.

Board-sponsored examinees, at the sponsoring board's discretion, may not be subject to the same waiting periods. Any additional reexamination eligibility requirements and procedures for unsuccessful examinees are established by the individual licensing boards, pursuant to their statutes and regulations.

14. If I take the SPEX for one licensing board or by self-nomination, can I later use those scores for licensure in another jurisdiction?
  Generally, passing SPEX scores are accepted by a licensing board regardless of the jurisdiction for which the exam is taken. However, because each board establishes its own pass/fail score requirements as well as other specific requirements for licensure, it is recommend that you contact the board from which you desire licensure to confirm the acceptance of the SPEX.

15. What if I need special arrangements to accommodate my disability?
  The SPEX program provides reasonable accommodations to examinees with documented disabilities as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended in 2008, together (ADA). If you are an individual covered under the ADA and require test accommodations, read the test accommodations section and contact FSMB for information regarding procedures and documentation requirements. In all cases, requests for testing accommodations must be made in writing at the time the SPEX application is submitted.

16. I don't have a copy of my medical license, which is required as a part of the application process. What should I do?
 
If you are unable to submit a copy of your license, you must provide one of the following:

  • A written explanation signed by you of why a copy of the license cannot be provided (e.g., was surrendered to the licensing authority).
  • A written explanation signed by a licensing authority verifying that you do have a license. The letter must be on the state medical board's letterhead and must state when the license was issued and whether it is currently in good standing.

The letter should be mailed to:

SPEX
Federation of State Medical Boards
400 Fuller Wiser Road, Suite 300
Euless, TX 76039
Fax: (817) 868-4098

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  Transcripts FAQs: 
  1. I'm an individual or organization requesting a transcript on behalf of someone else. What do I need to know?
  2. If I am using the Federation Credentials Verification Services (FCVS) department, do I need to request a transcript using this form?
  3. Who needs a transcript?
  4. Can I send a transcript to myself?
  5. Is my payment and my information secure?
  6. Which credit cards do you accept?
  7. What scores does the transcript reflect?
  8. What is the maximum number of licensing authorities I can select on one online form?
  9. How can I cancel my request?
  10. Can I add a second recipient at a later date?
  11. Do international graduates request transcripts from FSMB or ECFMG?
  12. How are my transcripts sent?
  13. How do I confirm that a licensing authority has received my transcript?
  14. Who do I contact for technical assistance?
  15. Why can't I enter a transcript request at 3:00am on Sunday?
  16. What browsers should I use to complete the FSMB online applications?
1. I'm an individual or organization requesting a transcript on behalf of someone else. What do I need to know?
  For each individual who you are requesting transcripts for an account needs to be created. This is necessary and crucial as FSMB is developing a portal that will combine all services/products that a physician has previously used and will request in the future. Requesting transcripts for multiple individuals under one login will then be attributed to whomever the original request was made.

Please note that you may designate up to two recipients for each $65 fee, regardless of the number of examinations (USMLE, FLEX, SPEX) included on the official transcript. Cost for transcripts: 1-2 recipients/$65, 3-4 recipients/$130, 5-6 recipients/$195, etc. Once a transcript request has been submitted, only the recipient(s) listed on the request will be processed, additional recipients cannot be added and the fee will not be applied to an additional recipient.

2. If I am using the Federation Credentials Verification Service (FCVS) department, do I need to request a transcript using this form?
  No, the fee paid for FCVS services includes the price of a transcript.

3. Who needs a transcript?
 
  • Students and graduates of accredited medical schools may need to submit one as part of the application process to sit for the USMLE Step 3 examination.
  • Licensed physicians may need to submit one in order to obtain a license by endorsement/reciprocity from another state.
  • Applicants for initial licensure in most states will need to submit one.
  • Students and/or physicians may need one for their personal records or as a submission to a third party such as a residency program.

4. Can I send a transcript to myself?
  Yes, the Federation will send a transcript to any recipient designated.

5. Is my payment and my information secure?
  We use 128-bit encryption (SSL) for transmission of data. We never store the credit card information, except the last 4 digits.

6. Which credit cards do you accept?
  We only accept Visa or Mastercard.

7. What scores does a transcript reflect?
  The FSMB maintains scores for the FLEX, SPEX and USMLE Steps 1, 2CK, 2CS, and 3 examinations.

8. What is the maximum number of licensing authorities I can select on one online form?
  Up to 20 recipients may be entered on one online transcript request. Additional recipients would require a subsequent online form.

8. How can I cancel my request?
  Once a transcript request is submitted it cannot be canceled.

10. Can I add a second recipient at a later date?
  Additional recipients cannot be added once a transcript request is submitted.

11. Do international graduates request transcripts from FSMB or ECFMG?
  If you are an international graduate who has taken Step 1 & 2 only and have not yet registered for Step 3 you must request your transcripts from ECFMG.

If you are an international graduate who is registered for or taken Step 3, the FSMB can send all transcript requests and holds USMLE, FLEX and SPEX scores.

12. How are my transcripts sent?
  Most state medical boards receive the transcripts in a electronic format via a secured website. All other recipients receive the transcript as a paper document via the mail.

13. How do I confirm that a licensing authority has received my transcript?
  Please contact the licensing authority to verify receipt of the transcript. Transcripts are mailed within three business days of receiving a complete transcript request. Some state medical boards have elected to receive transcripts electronically. The electronic transcript is posted to a secure website and is available to the medical board for 45 days from date of posting.

14. Who do I contact for technical assistance?
  For technical support, you may email the FSMB at usmle@fsmb.org or call (817) 868-4041. Assistance is available Monday through Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Central Time.

15. Why can't I enter a transcript request at 3:00am on Sunday?
  Our site is down every Sunday for routine system maintenance between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. CT. If you receive an error outside of these hours, please record the message and report this to technical support at usmle@fsmb.org or call 817-868-4041. If possible, please recall the steps you took to get to this error, your browser type and version, and the date and specific time the error occurred.

16. What browsers should I use to complete the FSMB online applications?
  The FSMB online applications may be completed using Internet Explorer Version 7 or higher, Safari Version 5 or above, Google Chrome Version 22 or above, or Mozilla Firefox Version 16 or higher. All supported browsers must allow cookies and have JavaScript enabled. All features may not be fully supported or available through other browsers.

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