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Review of USMLE Step 3 minimum passing performance

Posted: September 09, 2015

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 2015 Step 3 review, information from multiple sources will be considered, including:

  • Results of content-based standard setting exercises conducted with three independent groups of physicians in 2015;
  • 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 3 examination at its meeting on December 9-10, 2015.

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 3 examination on or after January 1, 2016. The decision of the Committee will be posted at the USMLE website.



Updated practice and informational materials for the Step 2 CK examination are available

Posted: June 10, 2016

Updated practice and informational materials for the Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) examination have been posted to the USMLE website. These materials reflect the change in number of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) per block described in a prior announcement, as well as new test delivery software .

Examinees planning to take a Step 2 CK examination on or after July 10, 2016 should read the following materials and practice with the updated sample items:

Downloadable practice test materials, with tutorials
USMLE Step 2 CK Sample Items booklet (PDF)
USMLE Step 2 CK Content Description and General Information booklet (PDF)


New features in Step 1 and Step 2 CK examinations

Posted: March 03, 2016
Updated: June 09, 2016

The National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®) has developed new software to deliver Step 1 and Step 2 CK of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®). The new software incorporates user-adjustable display features, specifically text magnification and reverse color (color inversion)

The new features will begin to be administered in Step 1 examinations during a transition period beginning the week of May 9, and in Step 2 CK examinations during a transition period beginning the week of July 10. Although the transition will occur quickly at many test centers, there may be some locations where the changes take slightly longer to complete. The overall transition period will likely last approximately 6 weeks. 

NEW FEATURES

Two new user-adjustable display features will be available in the new software:

  • Reverse color (color inversion)
  • Text magnification

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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