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Changes to USMLE procedures for reporting scores - April 1, 2013

Posted: December 26, 2012
Updated: March 13, 2013

As previously reported, the USMLE program has begun the process of eliminating the reporting of results on the 2-digit score scale to parties other than the examinee and any state licensing authority to which the examinee sends results. This process began on July 1, 2011 with elimination of 2-digit scores from USMLE transcripts reported through ERAS.

The USMLE program will extend this change in reporting to include ALL score recipients (e.g., examinees, state medical boards). This means that scores on the 2-digit scale will no longer be calculated or reported. We expect to eliminate the 2-digit score effective April 1, 2013. This change pertains to the Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 examinations only; Step 2 CS will continue to be reported as pass or fail.

Background

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 3-digit scale and one on a 2-digit scale. The 3-digit score scale is considered the primary reporting scale; it is developed in a manner that allows reasonable comparisons across time. The 2-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 3-digit scores to 2-digit scores is designed in such a way that the 3-digit minimum passing score in effect when the examinee tests is associated with a 2-digit score of 75.

The USMLE program requires its governing committees to reevaluate the minimum passing score for each Step every three to four years. This process has, at times, resulted in changes in the minimum passing score, expressed on the 3-digit scale, and an accompanying change in the score conversion process, to ensure that a 2-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 3-digit scoring scale or for those using the 2-digit scale with a primary interest in whether the examinee has a passing 2-digit score of at least 75. However, it may create challenges in interpretation for score users who are focusing on 2-digit scores, other than 75, and are doing so for purposes of comparing USMLE scores that span several years.

To eliminate confusion surrounding the 2-digit scale, the USMLE Composite Committee, the governing body of the USMLE program, directed staff to discontinue its reporting.


Use caution in selecting review courses

Posted: June 29, 2011
Updated: April 04, 2014

Orientation, Practice, and Self-Assessment Materials Available through USMLE, NBME, and Third Parties

The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program recognizes the importance of providing all examinees the opportunity to learn about the design and content of its examinations and to have some exposure, before examination day, to samples of testing formats and materials. USMLE provides orientation and practice materials for all USMLE Steps and Step Components. These materials, which are available at no cost on the USMLE website, include:

• Informational materials on the overall USMLE program and content descriptions for each of the USMLE examinations,
• Tutorials that illustrate the USMLE Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK), Step 3 multiple-choice question software and the Step 3 computer-based case simulation (CCS) Primum® software,
• Sample multiple-choice test questions with answer keys for each Step,
• Sample Step 3 CCS cases with feedback, and
• Orientation materials for Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS).

In addition, the National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®) provides, for a fee, self-assessment services to help the examinee evaluate his or her readiness to take USMLE. These services help individuals become familiar with questions like those that have appeared on USMLE and provide performance feedback on the individual’s areas of relative strength and weakness. See www.nbme.org to obtain additional information and to purchase self-assessment services.

Beyond these USMLE and NBME services, there are a variety of commercial test preparation materials and courses that claim to prepare examinees for USMLE examinations. Examinees who are considering using such services should fully understand the nature of these services, the sources of any content being used, and the basis for any claims being made. None of these third-party materials or courses are affiliated with or sanctioned by the USMLE program and information on such materials and courses is not available from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), NBME, USMLE Secretariat, or medical licensing authorities.
 
Please note that it is unlawful for any test preparation program or any individual to use, disclose, distribute, or provide access to questions or answers from actual USMLE exams. An examinee who is involved with any enterprise that disseminates USMLE content should be aware of the consequences, which include the possible cancellation of USMLE registration and/or testing, the withholding or cancellation of scores, and the imposition of additional sanctions.



Review of USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) minimum passing performance

Posted: March 25, 2014

The USMLE program recommends a minimum passing level for each Step examination. The USMLE Management Committee is responsible for establishing and monitoring these standards, and is asked to complete an in-depth review of standards for each examination every three to four years.

For the 2014 Step 2 CK review, information from multiple sources will be considered, including:

  • Results of content-based standard setting exercises conducted with three independent groups of physicians in 2014;
  • Results of surveys of various groups (e.g., state licensing representatives, medical school faculty, samples of examinees) 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.

The USMLE Management Committee is scheduled to review the minimum passing score for the USMLE Step 2 CK examination at its meeting on May 21-23, 2014.

If the Committee determines that a change to the minimum passing score is appropriate, the new recommended minimum passing score will become effective for all examinees who take a Step 2 CK examination on or after July 1, 2014. The decision of the Committee will be posted at the USMLE website.


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