USMLE Step 1 Transition to Pass/Fail Only Score Reporting Begins with Exams Taken on or After Jan. 26, 2022

The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Step 1 score reporting will transition from a numeric score and pass/fail outcome to pass/fail only for exams taken on or after January 26, 2022. The USMLE program views this change as an important first step toward facilitating broader, system-wide changes to improve the transition from undergraduate to graduate medical education.

Dates for USMLE Step 1 Transition to Pass/Fail Only
Transition Begins with Exams Taken on or After January 26, 2022

To receive a numeric score, examinees must take their exam on or before January 25, 2022*

Step 1 Exams

Test on or before Jan. 25, 2022
(Please schedule your appointment with Prometric well in advance of your desired test date)

Test on or after Jan. 26, 2022
(Schedule your exam date for on or after Jan. 26, 2022)

Score Reports

Numeric score and pass/fail outcome

Pass/fail outcome only

Transcripts**

Numeric score and pass/fail outcome

Pass/fail outcome only

* For multi-day exams, the date of the first day of testing will determine score reporting.
**Includes transcripts produced by the National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®), ECFMG, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and through the Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®).

View Example January 26, 2022 Score Reports

View common questions

Examinees should monitor the USMLE website for the latest information.

Step 3 – Scheduled Delay in Score Reporting

If you need to receive United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Step 3 scores before March 16, 2022 it is recommended that you take the exam no later than December 31, 2021.

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 2022. The target date for reporting Step 3 scores for examinees testing in January and February 2022 is Wednesday, March 16, 2022.

No USMLE Step 3 examinations will be administered January 1-14, 2022. 

USMLE Step 1 Updates on Score Reporting and Standard Setting

Two United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Step 1 changes may coincide in early 2022. First, Step 1 score reporting will transition to pass/fail only for administrations on or after January 26, 2022. Second, as part of best practices for licensing and certification examinations, the USMLE program reviews the minimum passing score of each Step exam every three to four years. The standard review process for the Step 1 minimum passing score is currently underway, which includes substantial input from licensing authorities, medical educators, and subject matter experts. If any change to the minimum passing score is determined appropriate by the USMLE Management Committee, it will become effective for examinees who take Step 1 on or after January 26, 2022. While the timing may overlap, the standard review process is unrelated to the upcoming transition to pass/fail score reporting.

Pass/Fail Score Reporting
The pass/fail reporting change is in alignment with the Invitational Conference on USMLE Scoring (InCUS) recommendations, which were based on a broad range of input from state medical board members, physicians, medical educators and examinees. To support this transition, USMLE Step 1 score reports for administrations on or after January 26, 2022 will be updated in the following ways:

  • Passing outcome reports will only display the notification of “Pass.” This change is intended to reduce the overemphasis of USMLE Step 1 scores on secondary uses while retaining the ability to use the exam for its primary purpose of medical licensure eligibility.
  • Failing outcome reports will display “Fail” and have 1) a visual illustration showing the distance between the examinee’s overall score and the minimum passing standard and 2) content area feedback that shows whether the examinee scored lower, about the same, or higher than examinees with a low pass (ie, above but near the passing standard) for each content category. This additional information is intended to guide study plans for future exam attempts.

Sample score reports for USMLE Step 1 examinations taken on or after January 26, 2022 are available here. USMLE transcripts will be similarly revised to display only a “Pass” or “Fail” for Step 1 exams taken on or after January 26, 2022. USMLE transcripts for Step 1 exams taken January 25, 2022 or earlier will continue to report a numeric score along with a “Pass” or “Fail” outcome.

Minimum Passing Score Review
The USMLE program reviews the minimum passing score for each Step examination every three to four years with extensive input from faculty and subject matter experts. This ensures that the standard is aligned with the potentially changing expectations within medicine.

Based on its routine schedule, the review of the Step 1 minimum passing score was originally scheduled to occur in December 2020 but was postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the review will occur in December 2021, and any change to the minimum passing score will be made effective with Step 1 administrations beginning on or after January 26, 2022. This review is consistent with USMLE’s standard operating procedures and is not connected to the upcoming transition to pass/fail score reporting. For reference, the last reviews of the minimum passing scores for Steps 1, 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) and 3 resulted in changes that ranged between 0 and 2 points.

Four types of data are considered:

  • Results of content-based standard-setting exercises conducted with three independent groups of physicians;
  • Results of surveys of various stakeholders (e.g., samples of examinees, state licensing representatives, medical school faculty) concerning the appropriateness of current pass/fail standards for Step examinations;
  • Trends in examinee performance;
  • Score precision and its effect on the pass/fail outcome.

Changes to the minimum passing score, if any, are determined by the USMLE Management Committee. This committee is comprised of a diverse national group of medical professionals from undergraduate and graduate medical education as well as state medical boards. Two public members and a resident member also serve on the committee.

An additional announcement that reports the outcome of the minimum passing standard review, whether there is a change or not, will be made on December 9, 2021.

Examinees should monitor the USMLE website for the latest information.

Step 1 Pass/Fail Score Reporting Implementation Date

United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Step 1 score reporting will transition to pass/fail outcomes only for administrations on or after January 26, 2022. Step 1 examinations administered before January 26 will include a three-digit numeric score.

Outcomes for Step 1 administrations occurring before January 26, 2022 will continue to include a three-digit score and pass/fail. Step 2 Clinical Knowledge and Step 3 examinations will continue to be reported as a three-digit score and pass/fail.

On February 12, 2020, the USMLE program announced it would change Step 1 score reporting to a pass/fail outcome no earlier than January 1, 2022. In taking this action, the USMLE’s co-sponsors—the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®)—considered the broad range of input received from the Invitational Conference on USMLE Scoring (InCUS), the subsequent InCUS report and its preliminary recommendations, and the extensive feedback and national conversation that preceded and followed the conference.

Additional information regarding the change to reporting Step 1 outcomes as pass/fail can be found here: https://www.usmle.org/incus/#decision.

Step 2 CK – Delay in Score Reporting

Most Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) scores are reported within 3-4 weeks of testing. However, because of necessary annual modifications to the test item pools, there will be a delay in reporting for some examinees who test beginning on or after the week of June 27, 2021.

If you need to receive Step 2 CK scores before August 25, 2021, the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program recommends that you take the exam before Friday, June 25, 2021.

The target date for reporting Step 2 CK scores for most examinees testing the week of June 27, 2021, through Friday, August 13, 2021, will be Wednesday, August 25, 2021.

Examinees should visit the USMLE website for the latest information.

Step 1 – Delay in Score Reporting

Most Step 1 scores are reported within 3-4 weeks of testing. However, because of necessary annual modifications to the test item pools, there will be a delay in reporting for some examinees who test beginning on or after the week of May 3, 2021.

If you need to receive Step 1 scores before July 7, 2021, the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program recommends that you take the exam before May 3, 2021.

The target date for reporting Step 1 scores for most examinees testing the week of May 3, 2021 through mid-June 2021 will be Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

Examinees should monitor the USMLE website for the latest information.

Moving Forward: The Step 1 Pass/Fail Score Reporting Policy Change and Revitalization of Step 2 Clinical Skills Examination

The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program recognizes that the upcoming score reporting change for Step 1 pass/fail (P/F) and the suspension of the Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examination have created new questions for medical students, faculty, and state board members. The USMLE program appreciates everyone’s patience and understanding as they work diligently on these two important issues.  As work progresses, the USMLE program is committed to providing monthly updates on these and other topics that are important to their stakeholders.

Step 1 P/F Score Reporting

The transition to Step 1 pass/fail score reporting is on track to be implemented in January 2022. Should this schedule change, the USMLE program will post an updated timeline. Specific dates and information will be made available in advance of the implementation date.

Information about the Step 1 P/F score reporting policy change can be found here.

Revitalization of Step 2 Clinical Skills Examination

As co-owners of the USMLE, the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) collected valuable input over the summer from state medical boards, medical school faculty, and examinees about the prior Step 2 CS exam, including feedback on which skills are important to assess to inform medical licensure decisions. This feedback is greatly appreciated and will be essential in the development of a revitalized exam. An update on next steps and future developments will be shared by the end of November.

Information about the revitalization of Step 2 CS can be found here.

Examinees should monitor the USMLE website for the latest information.

Step 1 and Step 2 CK – Score Delays in 2021

Most United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) scores are reported within 3-4 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.

Please be aware that examinees testing during the following dates may experience delays in score reporting:

  • Step 1 examinees testing early May through early July 2021 – more specific information will be posted January 2021
  • Step 2 CK examinees testing early July through late August 2021 – more specific information will be posted March 2021

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 the latest information.

USMLE Score Reporting Policy Updates

The following announcements provide details on new score reporting policies set by the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Composite Committee for the Step 1 examination and the Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examination. As a medical licensing examination, the USMLE program has a responsibility to produce transcripts that report a complete exam history for each examinee. The following announcements provide details on new score reporting policies set by the USMLE Composite Committee for the Step 1 examination and the Step 2 CS examination.

USMLE Step 1 Examination

Step 1 results will be reported as Pass/Fail no earlier than January 1, 2022. All scores for Step 1 exams taken prior to the date of the policy change will continue to be reported using the three-digit numeric score on all USMLE transcripts. The USMLE program does not retroactively alter transcripts.

USMLE Step 2 CS Examination

Step 2 CS was suspended in March 2020. All Step 2 CS results from exam administrations prior to the suspension will be reported on USMLE transcripts. Due to the Step 2 CS suspension, a significant number of individuals applying for residency in the 2020-2021 cycle will not have a Step 2 CS result or an opportunity to retest after a Step 2 CS failure. Information on the timing of this suspension will be clearly communicated to residency programs through ERAS. While Step 2 CS is suspended, the ECFMG has posted requirements for Certification for the 2021 residency Match, available here.

USMLE Timeline for Step 1 Pass/Fail Score Reporting

The co-sponsors of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®)—the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME)―have recently received requests from examinees and student organizations to accelerate or delay the change to pass/fail score reporting for USMLE Step 1 in light of the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and social movements across the country. The USMLE program’s announcement of the Step 1 score reporting policy change, posted in February 2020, said the change in score reporting would be implemented no earlier than January 2022. After careful consideration of all the recent concerns that have been brought to the USMLE program’s attention, the USMLE program remains committed to the January 2022 timeline.

For more information, please read the full announcement on the USMLE website.