Changes to USMLE Procedures for Reporting Scores

Starting July 1, 2011, USMLE transcripts reported through the ERAS reporting system will no longer include score results on the two-digit score scale. USMLE results will continue to be reported on the three-digit scale. This affects the Step 1, 2 CK, and 3 examinations only; Step 2 CS will continue to be reported as pass or fail. These changes do not alter the score required to pass or the difficulty of any of the USMLE Step examinations.

Since its beginning in the 1990s, the USMLE program has reported two numeric scores for the Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 examinations, one on a three-digit scale and one on a two-digit scale. The three-digit score scale is considered the primary reporting scale; it is developed in a manner that allows reasonable comparisons across time. The two-digit scale is intended to meet statutory requirements of some state medical boards that rely on a score scale that has 75 as the minimum passing score. The process used to convert three-digit scores to two-digit scores is designed in such a way that the three-digit minimum passing score in effect when the examinee tests is associated with a two-digit score of 75.

The USMLE program requires its governing committees to reevaluate the minimum passing score every three to four years. This process has, at times, resulted in changes in the minimum passing score, expressed on the three-digit scale, and an accompanying change in the score conversion process, to ensure that a two-digit score of 75 is associated with the new minimum passing requirement. A by-product of the adjustment of the score conversion system over time has been a shift in the relationship between the two score scales. This shift has no impact for USMLE score users who use the three-digit scoring scale or for those using the two-digit scale with a primary interest in whether the examinee has a passing two-digit score of at least 75. However, it may create challenges in interpretation for score users who are focusing on two-digit scores, other than 75, and are doing so for purposes of comparing USMLE scores that span several years.

To simplify matters and make interpretation of USMLE information more convenient for score users, the USMLE Composite Committee has asked staff to report two-digit scores only to those score users for whom the scale is intended, i.e., the state medical boards. The Committee also asked that examinees continue to receive scores on both scales so that they are fully informed about the information that will be reported when they ask that results be sent to a state medical board. When examinees request that their results be sent to other score users, only the three-digit score will be reported. Current plans call for these changes to begin with the elimination of the two-digit score from USMLE transcripts reported through the ERAS reporting system starting July 1, 2011. Other systems and procedures for reporting results will be similarly modified as soon as possible after the July 1, 2011 date.

Delay in USMLE Step 1 Score Reporting

Most score reporting of 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 testing beginning in mid-May 2011. The target date for reporting Step 1 scores for most examinees testing from May 17 through late June will be Wednesday, July 13, 2011.

Examinees should monitor the USMLE website for the latest information.

UPDATE: New Fees for Changing Appointments at Prometric Test Centers Effective January 1, 2011

Effective January 1, 2011, Prometric will charge a fee if USMLE examinees change testing appointments (e.g., reschedule, cancel, change test center location) at Prometric Test Centers thirty or fewer days before their scheduled test date. No fee is charged for changing testing appointments 31 or more days prior to the first day of the scheduled test.

The date that you change your appointment, using local time at the Regional Registration Center for the Prometric Testing Region, will determine whether you pay a fee and the amount of this fee:

  • If you change your appointment 31 or more days before (but not including) the first day of your scheduled test date, there is no fee.
  • If you change your appointment fewer than 31 days but more than 5 days before (but not including) the first day of your scheduled test date, there is a $50 fee.
  • If you change your appointment 5 or fewer days before (but not including) the first day of your scheduled test date, there is a higher fee. This fee varies by Prometric Testing Region and by exam.

For complete information and a schedule of fees, visit the USMLE website.

This policy applies only to appointments for USMLE Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK), and Step 3. For information on the fees associated with changing testing appointments for Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS), refer to Rescheduling in the ECFMG Information Booklet.

(posted December 22, 2010; updated December 29, 2010)

NBME® Self-Assessments with Expanded Feedback

The National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME) offers web-based self-assessments to help medical students and graduates evaluate their readiness for the computer-based components of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). The content of the Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment (CBSSA) resembles the content of USMLE Step 1, while the content of the Comprehensive Clinical Science Self-Assessment (CCSSA) resembles the content of USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK).

The NBME is pleased to announce that it now provides expanded feedback for four forms of the CBSSA and one form of the CCSSA. In addition to the performance profile and score interpretation guide available with all forms, the expanded feedback also shows the number of items answered incorrectly by content category, the average amount of time spent on each incorrect item, and the percentage of incorrect items marked during the assessment. The feedback also provides the capability to review the text of the incorrect items. The fee for expanded feedback forms is $60.00; the fee for standard forms is $50.00.

For complete information, to view a sample assessment, or to purchase an assessment, visit the NBME Self-Assessment Services website.

(posted October 20, 2009; updated September 15, 2011)

On-line Posting or Discussion of USMLE Content Constitutes Irregular Behavior

If you post or discuss United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) examination content via the Internet, you will be in violation of the USMLE Rules of Conduct, as outlined in the USMLE Bulletin of Information. Examination content includes, but may not be limited to, questions, case content, and answers.

The Bulletin specifically advises that, “you will maintain the confidentiality of the materials, including the multiple-choice items, and the case content for Step 2 CS and Primum CCS. You will not reproduce or attempt to reproduce examination materials through memorization or any other means. Also, you will not provide information relating to examination content that may give or attempt to give unfair advantage to individuals who may be taking the examination. This includes postings regarding examination content and/or answers on the Internet.”

The USMLE program continuously monitors Internet forums and chat rooms. Examinees who post information about examination content are identified and referred to the USMLE Committee on Irregular Behavior. If the Committee finds that you posted examination content, your scores may be delayed and you may be subject to the following sanctions:

  • Permanent annotation of your USMLE transcript (such annotations will read “Irregular Behavior/Security Violation” and will be seen by any entity that receives your transcript, i.e., residency training programs, state licensing authorities, etc.);
  • A report to the Federation of State Medical Boards Board Action Databank (a central repository for formal actions taken against physicians and available to licensing and disciplinary boards, the military, governmental and private agencies, and organizations involved in the employment and/or credentialing of physicians);
  • A bar from taking future administrations of USMLE.

A determination of irregular behavior can put your medical career in jeopardy. Do not endanger your career: Do not post information from exams you have taken and do not solicit others to provide such information.

For more information, refer to Testing Regulations and Rules of Conduct and Irregular Behavior in the USMLE Bulletin of Information, available on the USMLE website.

Reminder: Time Limit for Completing Examination Requirements for ECFMG Certification

ECFMG would like to remind applicants that they are required to pass those United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Steps and Step Components required for ECFMG Certification within a seven-year period. This means that once an applicant passes a Step or Step Component, the applicant will have seven years to pass the other Step(s) or Step Component(s) required for ECFMG Certification. (For complete information on the examination requirements for ECFMG Certification, see Examination Requirements in the ECFMG Information Booklet.)

This seven-year period begins on the exam date for the first Step or Step Component passed and ends exactly seven years from this exam date. If an applicant does not pass all required Steps and Step Components within a maximum of seven years, the applicant’s earliest USMLE passing performance will no longer be valid for ECFMG Certification.

EXAMPLE: An applicant took his first Step or Step Component on October 1, 2006 and passed. The applicant has through October 1, 2013 to take and pass all other Step(s) and Step Component(s) required for ECFMG Certification. If he does not take and pass all other required Step(s) and Step Component(s) on or before October 1, 2013, his passing performance on the October 1, 2006 exam would no longer be valid for ECFMG Certification.

This seven-year limit does not apply to the former ECFMG Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA) because the CSA was not a USMLE Step or Step Component. Applicants who satisfied the clinical skills requirement for ECFMG Certification by passing the CSA are required to pass only Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) within a seven-year period for ECFMG Certification. For these applicants, the seven-year period begins on the exam date for the first USMLE Step or Step Component passed, regardless of when the CSA was passed.

On June 14, 2004, USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) became a requirement for ECFMG Certification, replacing the ECFMG CSA as the exam that satisfies the clinical skills requirement. As part of the USMLE, Step 2 CS may be subject to the seven-year time limit for ECFMG Certification as described below:

  • If an applicant’s earliest USMLE passing performance that is valid for ECFMG Certification took place on or after June 14, 2004, the applicant is required to pass Step 1, Step 2 CK, and, if required for ECFMG Certification, Step 2 CS within a seven-year period for ECFMG Certification.
  • If an applicant’s earliest USMLE passing performance that is valid for ECFMG Certification took place before June 14, 2004, the applicant is required to pass only Step 1 and Step 2 CK within a seven-year period for ECFMG Certification; if required for ECFMG Certification, Step 2 CS can be passed outside the seven-year period.

The policies outlined above apply only to ECFMG Certification. The USMLE program recommends to U.S. state medical licensing authorities that they require applicants to pass the full USMLE sequence (including Step 3, which is not required for ECFMG Certification) within a seven-year period. See Time Limit and Number of Attempts Allowed to Complete All Steps and Retakes in the USMLE Bulletin of Information.

Many state medical licensing authorities accept the USMLE recommendation, but some do not. You should contact the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States, Inc., (FSMB) for general information and the medical licensing authority of the jurisdiction where you plan to apply for licensure for definitive information, since licensure requirements vary among jurisdictions.

Additionally, applicants who retake a previously passed Step or Step Component to comply with a time limit should understand the implications for Step 3 eligibility of a failing attempt on a retake. See Official Performance of Record for Examinees Retaking a Previously Passed Step in the USMLE Bulletin of Information.