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Change in Performance Standards for Step 2 CS

Posted: August 04, 2017

This announcement describes a change in the performance standards for the USMLE Step 2 CS examination that will affect examinees testing on or after September 10, 2017.

As stated in the USMLE Bulletin of Information and as explained in a previous posting to the USMLE website, the recommended minimum passing levels for each USMLE examination are reviewed periodically (typically, every 3-4 years) and may be adjusted at any time. Notice of such review and any adjustments are posted on the USMLE website.

At its July 2017 meeting, the USMLE Management Committee* conducted a review of the recommended minimum passing levels for USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS). During the meeting, the Management Committee considered information from multiple sources, including:

  1. Recommendations from independent groups of physicians unaffiliated with the USMLE who participated in content-based standard-setting activities in 2017;
  2. Results of surveys of various groups (e.g., residency program directors, medical school faculty, state licensing representatives, examinees) concerning the appropriateness of current pass/fail standards for the Step 2 CS examination;
  3. Data on trends in examinee performance;
  4. Data on precision of pass/fail classifications.

Based on these data, the Management Committee voted to increase the required minimum passing level for all three Step 2 CS subcomponents: Communication and Interpersonal Skills (CIS), Spoken English Proficiency (SEP), and Integrated Clinical Encounter (ICE). Because numerical scores are not reported for Step 2 CS, the decisions of the Management Committee are reported in terms of potential impact on examinees, using data from recent administrations.

If the new minimum passing requirements were applied to the group of first-time examinees who recently tested, the overall passing rate for examinees from US medical schools would be approximately three percent lower and the overall passing rate for examinees from international medical schools would be approximately eight percent lower.

*The USMLE Management Committee is composed of medical school faculty with experience in undergraduate and graduate education, members of state medical boards, public members, and a resident member. The Management Committee is responsible for setting minimum passing performance levels for all USMLE exams.


No change to minimum passing score for Step 2 CK

Posted: May 24, 2018

The USMLE Management Committee voted to maintain the currently recommended Step 2 CK (Clinical Knowledge) minimum passing score at their May 2018 meeting.

As explained in a previous posting to the USMLE website, the minimum passing score for each USMLE Step examination is reviewed periodically and may be adjusted at any time.

At its meeting, the USMLE Management Committee conducted a review of the Step 2 CK examination minimum passing score. During the meeting, the Committee considered information from multiple sources, including:

  • Recommendations from independent groups of physicians who participated in content-based standard-setting activities in 2018;
  • Results of surveys of various groups (e.g., state licensing representatives, medical school faculty, examinees) concerning the appropriateness of current passing requirements for the Step 2 CK examination;
  • Data on trends in examinee performance;
  • Data on precision of pass/fail classifications.

As a result of its review, the USMLE Management Committee voted to maintain the recommended minimum passing score of 209.


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

Posted: February 13, 2018
Updated: May 23, 2018

The USMLE program recommends a minimum passing level for each Step examination. The USMLE Management Committee is responsible for establishing and monitoring standards, and is asked to complete an in-depth review of standards for each examination every 3 to 4 years.

For the 2018 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 2018;
  • 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 May 2018 meeting.

If the Committee determines that a change 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, 2018. The decision of the Committee will be posted at the USMLE website.


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