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Change in minimum passing requirements for Step 3

Posted: December 11, 2015

The recommended Step 3 minimum passing score will change from 190 to 196. This change will affect examinees whose first day of testing is on or after January 1, 2016.

As stated in the USMLE Bulletin of Information and 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 December 2015 meeting, the USMLE Management Committee conducted a review of the Step 3 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 2015;
  • 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 3 examination;
  • Data on trends in examinee performance;
  • Data on precision of pass/fail classifications.

As a result of its review, the Management Committee decided to raise the recommended Step 3 minimum passing score from 190 to 196.

As noted above, this change will apply to Step 3 examinees whose first day of testing is on or after January 1, 2016.

Step 2 CK – Delay in score reporting and change in number of test items

Posted: May 20, 2016

Most score reporting of Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) results occurs within four weeks of testing. However, because of necessary modifications to the test item pool, as well as a change to new test delivery software, there will be a delay in reporting for some examinees who test beginning the week of July 10, 2016.

The target date for reporting Step 2 CK scores for most examinees testing the week of July 10 through late August will be September 14, 2016.  For examinees whose circumstances require that they receive Step 2 CK scores before September 14, it is recommended that they take Step 2 CK no later than July 9, 2016.

During this time period, a transition will occur in the number of items in current forms of the Step 2 CK examination.  The total number of items will decrease from no more than 355 to no more than 318. 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. Please note the following:

  • Scores on new and old exam forms will be comparable; the decrease in the number of items per form will be accounted for in scoring the examination results.
  • The length of the examination day will remain unchanged. The test day will continue to be divided into eight 60-minute item blocks, an optional 15-minute tutorial, and 45 minutes of break time, for a total of 9 hours.

The number of items per block on a given examination form will vary but will not exceed 40 items. The number of items in a block is displayed on the screen at the beginning of the block.  Please note this information and pace yourself accordingly.

Scheduling Reminder for Step 2 CS

Posted: January 29, 2016
Updated: May 18, 2016

Schedules at all test centers fill up quickly. We strongly encourage examinees to complete their scheduling before May 31 of the calendar year in which they plan to test. Testing appointments are typically completely filled at least three to four months in advance. If you try to schedule after August 1, you may find that there are no available testing appointments through the end of the year unless there are cancellations.

The graph below indicates test appointment availability for the next six months. Please note that the graph does not indicate availability at any one center, but across all five locations. Availability at the testing center you choose may differ.


More information is available in the Applying for the Test and Scheduling Your Test Date section of the Bulletin of Information.

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