News

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.

AAMC Service for Applicants Seeking Residency Positions

Offered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), FindAResident® is a web-based search tool for finding open residency and fellowship positions in a variety of accredited specialties.

Open year-round, FindAResident is an effective resource for residency candidates who:

  • experienced an unsuccessful match through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) or post-Match Scramble,
  • are looking for off-cycle positions or specialties not featured in ERAS, or
  • want to change specialties, locations, or residency or fellowship programs.

By registering with this online service, candidates can post their resume, test scores, photo, curriculum vitae, and other pertinent information for programs to view. Users can also search a database of open training positions by post-graduate year level, specialty, and geographic preference. Programs are able to directly update vacancy information at any time, so the unfilled position information remains accurate and current.

FindAResident complements both the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®) and the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP); it does not replace these services. FindAResident offers additional benefits to applicants participating in ERAS. ERAS participants can import information from their certified ERAS Common Application Form (CAF) directly into FindAResident.

Use of this service requires registration and a subscription fee; active ERAS users receive a discount on that fee. Subscriptions begin on the date of purchase and conclude at the end of the FindAResident season (September 14). For more information or to subscribe, visit FindAResident on the Web.

Step 2 CS Scheduling Restrictions

Demand for the Step 2 CS examination is expected to be heavy at all clinical skills evaluation centers at certain times throughout the year. The CS scheduling system is designed to handle the expected high volume, while maximizing the likelihood that most examinees can meet requirements and deadlines. This system also provides a representative mix of examinees at most testing sessions, which is helpful in maintaining a high quality assessment system both within and across test centers.

Spaces within test sessions may be allocated based on a variety of factors, including time of year, location of the test center and whether the examinee’s institution of undergraduate medical education is located within the US or Canada, or is an international medical school. These controls on spaces for each test session will remain in place until 60 days before the test date, at which time all testing spaces that have not been filled will be available to all registered applicants on a first come, first served basis. Scheduling patterns and demand will be monitored, and allotment of spaces may be changed as needed.

Applicants rescheduling into newly-available testing spaces will not be charged a rescheduling fee, provided they cancel existing testing appointments with more than 14 days’ notice. However, applicants who cancel with notice of 14 or fewer days will be charged a rescheduling fee of $150.

Scheduling Guidelines for Applicants

If you plan to take Step 2 CS, you should consider the following:

  • Applicants for Step 2 CS are encouraged to register and schedule their testing appointments as soon as possible.
  • Registered applicants are encouraged to schedule a testing appointment, even if they are uncertain that they will be able keep the testing appointment. You will be able to cancel an existing appointment without incurring a rescheduling fee, provided that you give more than 14 days’ notice.
  • Registered applicants can check which test dates are available to them at any time by accessing Step 2 CS Calendar and Scheduling from the website of their registration entity.

(posted December 21, 2004, updated February 16, 2005, March 18, 2005, December 1, 2006, March 3, 2006, December 7, 2006)

Step 2 CS Rescheduling Policy Allows Early Scheduling, Flexibility in Changing Testing Appointments

There are no Step 2 CS rescheduling fees for applicants who cancel scheduled testing appointments more than 14 days before the scheduled test date. Rescheduling fees do apply to applicants who cancel within 14 days of their scheduled test date and those who miss their scheduled test date without canceling.

This policy allows applicants registered for Step 2 CS to schedule their testing appointments early, while retaining the flexibility to reschedule at no cost, with a minimal period of notice. Applicants are strongly encouraged to register early and schedule testing appointments for the earliest possible date. If you have registered or plan to register for Step 2 CS, you should be familiar with the requirements and fees associated with rescheduling a Step 2 CS testing appointment.

  • If you cancel more than fourteen calendar days before (but not including) your scheduled test date, there is no fee to reschedule.
  • If you cancel during the fourteen-day period before (but not including) your scheduled test date, your fee will be $150 when you reschedule.
  • If you miss your scheduled testing appointment without canceling, your fee will be $400 when you reschedule.

Registered applicants can check which test dates are available to them at any time by accessing Step 2 CS Calendar and Scheduling. For complete information on Step 2 CS rescheduling policies, refer to Rescheduling in the ECFMG Information Booklet.

(posted June 22, 2005, updated December 1, 2005, March 28, 2006, December 7, 2006)

Important Information for Step 2 CS Registrants Attempting to Schedule or Reschedule a Testing Appointment

It has come to our attention that some Step 2 CS registrants have offered to exchange their scheduled testing appointments for those of other registrants who must take Step 2 CS by specific deadlines. The exchange of testing appointments between applicants is not consistent with the “first-come, first-served” basis on which Step 2 CS testing appointments are offered. It is also highly unlikely to be successful. If you are registered for Step 2 CS, you should know that:

  • The Step 2 CS Calendar and Scheduling system does not allow an applicant to reserve his/her scheduled testing appointment for another applicant, nor does it allow the transfer of a testing appointment from one applicant to another. When an applicant cancels a scheduled appointment, the appointment returns to the pool of available testing appointments where it can be claimed by other registrants.
  • At any given time, there are many applicants registered for Step 2 CS who may be attempting to schedule or reschedule testing appointments. It is common for appointments that become available to be claimed immediately by another applicant.
  • The Step 2 CS Scheduling Email Notification System allows registered applicants to indicate their preferences for test dates and centers. When a testing appointment is canceled, all applicants participating in the email notification system who have expressed a preference for this date/center are notified immediately by email.

The best way for registered applicants to monitor the availability of testing appointments is to indicate their preferences for dates/centers using the pilot Step 2 CS Scheduling Email Notification System. To indicate your preferences, access Step 2 CS Calendar and Scheduling, and follow the link “Add/Edit Scheduling Email Notifications.”

For detailed information on policies and procedures related to Step 2 CS scheduling and rescheduling, refer to the ECFMG Information Booklet and USMLE Bulletin of Information.

(posted November 21, 2006, updated December 7, 2006)