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Changes to USMLE procedures for reporting scores

Posted: May 04, 2011


Starting July 1, 2011, USMLE transcripts reported through the ERAS reporting system will no longer include score results on the 2-digit score scale. USMLE results will continue to be reported on the 3-digit scale. This affects the Step 1, 2 CK, and 3 examinations only; Step 2 CS will continue to be reported as pass or fail. These changes do not alter the score required to pass or the difficulty of any of the USMLE Step examinations.

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 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 simplify matters and make interpretation of USMLE information more convenient for score users, the USMLE Composite Committee has asked staff to report 2-digit scores only to those score users for whom the scale is intended, i.e., the state medical boards. The Committee also asked that examinees continue to receive scores on both scales so that they are fully informed about the information that will be reported when they ask that results be sent to a state medical board. When examinees request that their results be sent to other score users, only the 3-digit score will be reported. Current plans call for these changes to begin with the elimination of the 2-digit score from USMLE transcripts reported through the ERAS reporting system starting July 1, 2011. Other systems and procedures for reporting results will be similarly modified as soon as possible after the July 1, 2011 date.


Updated practice materials for Step 1 examination

Posted: April 23, 2014

Updated practice materials for the Step 1 examination have been posted to the USMLE website. They include:

• Four blocks of downloadable practice test items, with tutorial
• USMLE Step 1 Sample Items booklet (PDF)
• USMLE Step 1 Content Description and General Information booklet (PDF)

As announced in January 2014, all USMLE examinations will be constructed from an integrated content outline that organizes content according to general principles and individual organ systems. Each Step exam will continue to have test specifications specific to that Step. Each Step exam will emphasize certain parts of the outline, and no single examination will include questions on all topics in the outline.

Step 1 examinations administered on or after mid-May 2014 will be constructed using the integrated content outline. However, changes resulting from use of the new outline are minor, and the examination content will be similar to content on previous examinations.

The previous Step 1 content outline will remain available on the USMLE website for reference.


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.



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