The Day of the Exam

What should I wear and bring to the exam?

Professional dress, as would be appropriate in a clinical setting, is required. You should wear your white coat and bring a stethoscope and penlight to the exam. No exam aids, notes, or mobile devices will be permitted on the exam floor.

Although you will be permitted to leave the exam center for lunch, you may opt to bring your lunch in order to save time. No refreshments will be provided.

When and where do I sign in?

When you arrive for orientation on your test date at 8:30am, please report to Berryhill 302. You will receive scrap paper, your starting room assignment, and an honor code agreement.

There will be a short orientation to review the schedule and procedures for the exam. Please be on time. If you are late for the orientation, you will miss important information and risk missing patient encounters, which would result in a failing grade for those cases. Extensions will not be granted for students who arrive late.

The examination will be administered using the CAE LearningSpace recording system. You will use your UNC email address and ONYEN password to log in at each station. All encounters will be recorded. Door notes and post-encounter activities will be computer based.

Signing the Honor Code

You will be asked to sign the honor code and agree to keep confidential:

  • all details of the cases themselves, case-specific exercises, and accompanying materials;
  • your differential diagnoses and/or treatment plan for each of the cases; and
  • the identity and performance of all standardized patients.

So that CPX is fair for all students, it is essential that you not discuss any aspect of the exam with students who have not yet taken the exam.

How many patients will I see during the exam?

You will see 12 patients during CPX. You will have up to 15 minutes with each patient and an additional 10 minutes in for the post-encounter note, which will include documentation of the encounter and may include ordering tests and labs and determining differential diagnoses.

Cases may simulate a clinic, in-patient, or emergency room setting. You may be required to take a history, perform a physical examination, counsel the patient, explain procedures, or perform simulated tasks on the patient.

While working with standardized patients, remember to act professionally and be aware of your patient's dignity and privacy at all times.

In what order will I see these patients?

You will rotate in sequential order from your starting exam room through 6 encounters in the morning.  After lunch, you will complete the remaining 6 encounters.

How will I know when I move on to the next patient?

You have a total of 25 minutes at each station: 15 minutes with your patient and 10 minutes to complete the post-encounter exercises. Announcements will occur at the following intervals:

  • 0 minutes to let you know to log in and begin your encounter
  • 10 minutes to let you know that you have 5 minutes remaining with the patient
  • 15 minutes to tell you to complete the encounter and exit the exam room
  • 23 minutes to tell you that you have two minutes remaining for the post-encounter note
  • 25 minutes to tell you to submit your checklist, rotate to the next station, and log in.

Please note that you may leave the room before the announcement at 15 minutes.  However, once you leave the room you may not return.

What kind of information will I receive about each patient?

As you stand at the door of the patient's room, you will find a case stem on the computer screen, much as you would find a chart on a patient's door in the clinic. A paper copy of this information is also in the patient's room for your reference during the encounter.

The case will include:

  • patient's name
  • presenting complaint or other reason for visit
  • setting for the encounter (clinic, ER, hospital)
  • type of questions or tasks you will be asked to complete following the patient encounter

Take a few moments to read the door note thoroughly and plan the encounter before entering the room.

What are the post-encounter exercises?

After seeing each patient, you will be asked to write a note documenting your encounter with the patient. When you exit the patient's room, click 'data entry' to open the post-encounter activity. This note is in a similar format to that found on the Step 2 CS exam. You will have 10 minutes to complete each note, plus any additional time not used with the patient in the exam room.


To find out about how you will be assessed, please visit Performance Assessment.