Potential Impact of Coronavirus on USMLE Examination Administrations

The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program continues to monitor the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and is prepared to take appropriate measures as warranted to protect the health and safety of examinees and the public.

Whenever an examinee has a scheduled testing appointment, it is important to monitor the impact of illness, weather, or other conditions on USMLE administrations by going to the Prometric website (for Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 exams) and the CSEC website (for Step 2 Clinical Skills exams) for updates. Test centers may close at any time.

If you have been impacted by a test center closure related to the corona virus and need assistance with rescheduling your examination, please contact your registration entity.

It is also always important to monitor your own health. If you do not feel well on the day of your test, we strongly encourage you to reschedule your examination. If you become ill while taking any USMLE exam, inform a proctor promptly.

Please check the USMLE website for updates on the potential impact of coronavirus on USMLE administrations.

Step 2 CS Testing Appointment Arrival Time to Change in 2020

Effective January 3, 2020, the arrival time for the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) testing appointments will be 15 minutes earlier than in 2019, due to additional security check-in procedures at the testing centers.  During check-in, test center staff will scan examinees with a handheld or walk-through device designed to detect prohibited items.

New arrival times at all CSEC centers

  • AM Sessions:   7:30 AM
  • PM Sessions:   2:30 PM

If you are currently scheduled to take Step 2 CS on or after January 3, 2020, please log in to the Step 2 CS Calendar & Scheduling system to print your confirmation notice with the updated arrival time.

Please note that you must comply with all security procedures for entry into the exam. 

For more information on examination day and testing procedures, please refer to the USMLE Bulletin of Information.

If you have questions, please contact your registration entity, either the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) at info@ecfmg.org, or the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) at webmail@nbme.org.

Examinees should monitor the USMLE website for the latest information.

USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK Content Changes Scheduled for Mid-2020

Beginning in mid-2020, the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) examinations will include an increased number of questions assessing communication skills, system-based practice and patient safety, and legal/ethical skills and professionalism. The length of the testing days for Step 1 and Step 2 CK will not change.

Decisions about the balance of content on USMLE examinations are the responsibility of two groups: the USMLE Composite Committee and USMLE Management Committee. Both are composed of educators, practicing physicians, members with experience on state medical licensure boards, and public members. These committees approved the increase in the number of test items assessing the important competencies listed above.

Timetable:

  • Beginning in May 2020, Step 1 will include additional questions assessing communication skills.
  • Beginning in June/July 2020, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge will include additional questions on systems-based practice, patient safety, legal/ethical issues, and professionalism.
  • No changes to the Step 3 examination are planned during this timeframe.

Sample test items illustrating assessment of communications skills, systems-based practice and patient safety, and legal/ethical skills and professionalism are provided in the Step 1 Content Description and General Information booklet (pp. 7-11) and in the Step 2 Clinical Knowledge Content Description and General Information booklet (pp. 8-11).

The practice materials available on USMLE.org will be updated in early 2020 to reflect these changes in the distribution of exam content across content categories on Step 1 and Step 2 CK.

Computer-Assisted Scoring Coming to Step 2 CS

The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program is committed to applying the best available technology and the most current assessment practices to ensure accuracy and validity for all its examination programs. Beginning October 2019, computer-assisted scoring technology will be used to score patient notes created by examinees for the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examination.

The use of computer-assisted scoring will not change the cost of the exam, nor the timing with which examinees receive their scores. The computer-assisted scoring program is based on the scoring rubrics developed by experienced physician note raters. For cases in which computer-assisted scoring is used, notes with machine scores below the 50th percentile in performance will also be scored by physician patient note raters. The machine scores and physician scores will then be averaged to produce the examinee’s score on the patient note portion of the Step 2 CS exam.

Much consideration has gone into the implementation of computer-assisted scoring. Most importantly, the crucial role of clinical judgment in the evaluation of Step 2 CS performances will be preserved. Second, the examinee experience will not be adversely affected. The expert judgment of physicians will be used on an ongoing basis for the development of patient note scoring guidelines and in the training of the computer-based scoring system.

Click here for FAQs related to computer-assisted scoring. To read more about NBME’s work with natural language processing, see a recent article in Academic Medicine here.

Examinees should monitor the USMLE website for the latest information.

Step 3 – Delay in Score Reporting

If you need to receive Step 3 scores before March 25, 2020, the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) recommends that you take the exam no later than December 31, 2019.

Most Step 3 scores are reported within four weeks of testing. However, because of necessary annual modifications to the test item pool, there will be a delay in reporting for some examinees who test in early 2020. The target date for reporting Step 3 scores for examinees testing in January and February 2020 is Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

No USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK, or Step 3 examinations will be administered January 1-14, 2020.

Examinees should monitor the USMLE website for the latest information.

Step 1 and Step 2 CK – Score Delays in 2020

Most Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) scores are reported within four weeks of testing. However, because of necessary annual modifications to the test item pools, delays occur for examinees who test at certain times of the year.

The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) has announced that examinees testing during the following dates may experience delays in score reporting:

  • Step 1 examinees testing early May through early July 2020 – more specific information will be posted January 2020
  • Step 2 CK examinees testing late June through late August 2020 – more specific information will be posted March 2020

Why is this important to know?

If you need to receive a score before a certain date, plan to take that exam before the projected score delay windows to avoid missing deadlines.

Examinees should monitor the USMLE website for more information.

New Videos from USMLE: “Your USMLE Journey to Medical Licensure in the U.S.” and “Who is USMLE?”

Two new videos about the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program are now available on the USMLE website for students, examinees, medical school faculty, and others.

“Your USMLE Journey to Medical Licensure in the U.S.” looks at what is covered on each Step exam, using colorful scenes and visual elements.

“Who is USMLE?” features program volunteers and committee members who help develop the exams, discussing the perspectives and principles behind work on a licensure examination.

The new videos are a great way to quickly understand the exams that comprise the three Steps of USMLE.

In addition, the USMLE website now includes an easy to locate page for quick access to all videos and podcasts supporting program information.

Keep checking the USMLE Announcements section for news, videos, and podcasts to stay aware of program updates.

Step 2 CK – Delay in Score Reporting

Most score reporting of Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) results occurs within four weeks of testing. However, because of necessary modifications to the test item pool, there will be a delay in reporting for some examinees who test beginning the week of June 23, 2019.

The target date for reporting Step 2 CK scores for most examinees testing the week of June 23 through August 8 will be Wednesday, August 28, 2019. For examinees whose circumstances require that they receive Step 2 CK scores before August 28, 2019, it is recommended that they take the exam no later than June 24, 2019.

Although the transition will occur quickly at many test centers, there may be some locations where the changes take slightly longer to complete. The overall transition period will likely last approximately six weeks. Please note that scores on new and old exam forms will be comparable.

Examinees should monitor the USMLE website for the latest information.

Step 1 – Delay in Score Reporting

Most score reporting of USMLE Step 1 results occurs within four weeks of testing. However, because of necessary modifications to the test item pool, there will be a delay in reporting for some examinees who test beginning the week of May 5, 2019.

The target date for reporting Step 1 scores for most examinees testing the week of May 5 through mid-June will be Wednesday, July 10, 2019. For examinees whose circumstances require that they receive Step 1 scores before July 10, 2019, it is recommended that they take Step 1 no later than May 4, 2019.

Examinees should see the full announcement on the USMLE website for more information.