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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.


USMLE Score Interpretation Guidelines

Posted: October 30, 2014

USMLE Score Interpretation Guidelines (SIG) have been posted to the USMLE website. Topics include:

  • Description of Examinations
  • Understanding Your Score
  • Recent Means and Standard Deviations (SDs)
    • Norm Table
    • Passing Scores
  • Precision of Scores
  • Guidelines for Use of USMLE Step Scores for Selection Decisions

The means and SDs and the norm table will be updated annually. Because percentile ranks depend on the cohort of examinees, you should always use the most recent norm table available on the USMLE website to obtain percentile ranks.


New display features to be piloted in Practice Sessions

Posted: October 27, 2014

Practice Sessions are primarily intended to provide examinees with the opportunity to become familiar with the Prometric Test Center environment.  From time to time, the USMLE program uses Practice Sessions to pilot new features and get feedback from examinees.

Three new user-adjustable display features will be piloted in USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) Practice Sessions delivered at a limited number of Prometric Test Centers on or after November 3, 2014: 

  • Reverse color (color inversion)
  • Text magnification
  • Image magnification

The new display features are NOT currently available on live USMLE administrations or in practice materials available on the USMLE website.

Examinees are encouraged but not required to use the new features; they will not interfere with an examinee’s practice experience. Examinees who take a Step 1 or Step 2 CK Practice Session during this period will be asked to complete a brief post-session survey about their experience, which will help USMLE determine whether examinees like the new features.

If the features become available in the future for use in USMLE Step examinations or the online practice materials, examinees will be notified well in advance.

NOTE: the first 500 examinees to schedule an appointment for a Practice Session with the new display features on or after November 3, 2014 will have a $40 discount applied to their fee. Scheduling is restricted to a limited number of Prometric Test Centers during this pilot.
 
Reverse color
Inverts the color of the text and background from black-on-white to white-on-black. The ability to reverse color (also known as color inversion) improves readability for some users.

 

Text magnification
Two levels of text magnification will be available.

Image magnification
Magnifies images, such as photographs and graphs.
Click anywhere within the image to enlarge or to return to original size.


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