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USMLE takes action against individuals found to have engaged in Irregular Behavior

Posted: November 07, 2016

The USMLE Committee for Individualized Review (CIR) meets periodically throughout the year to review cases involving allegations of irregular behavior by applicants and/or examinees.

At its recent meetings, the CIR considered multiple cases involving the following:

  • falsifying information, including the creation of falsified score reports
  • seeking to obtain unauthorized access to examination materials (including the solicitation of exam content via online web forums)
  • communicating about specific test items, cases, and/or answers with other examinees (including the sharing of examination content via online web forums and file sharing websites)
  • applying for and/or attempting to take an examination when ineligible
  • accessing unauthorized items, equipment, or materials while on an unauthorized break
  • making notes on test day  on something  other than the writing materials provided by test center staff
  • failure to follow test center instructions, including typing past the ‘End Patient Note’ announcement in Step 2 Clinical Skills

Actions taken by the CIR at its recent meetings included:

  • annotating individual USMLE records with a finding of irregular behavior
  • barring access to USMLE for periods up to 5 years
  • reporting the finding of irregular behavior to the disciplinary data bank (Physician Data Center [PDC]) at the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB)
  • State medical boards routinely query this data bank as part of their licensing processes
  • cancelling the examinee’s score because the validity of a passing level score is in question

As evidenced by the sanctions listed above, a finding of irregular behavior carries significant potential impact. USMLE applicants and examinees are reminded to read the USMLE Bulletin of Information carefully, follow the rules of conduct during testing, and refrain from any pre- or post-examination conduct deemed to be irregular behavior.

Applicants and examinees are also encouraged to watch the USMLE Security Video.

The USMLE is committed to maintaining the integrity of its examination so that state medical boards may continue to rely upon it as an integral part of their decision-making process for licensure. Applicants and examinees are advised to observe all USMLE policies and procedures to avoid the potentially significant implications arising from a finding of irregular behavior.

USMLE encourages you to provide information about cheating and other activity of which you are aware that may compromise the security and integrity of USMLE. Please use our contact form to report such information.


Scheduling Reminder for Step 2 CS

Posted: January 29, 2016
Updated: August 09, 2017

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. Based on scheduling trends, 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 is an estimate of test appointment availability for the next six months as of the date at the bottom of the graph. Please note that the graph does not indicate availability at any one location. Availability at the testing center you choose may differ.

Appointment availability changes frequently, so if you are unable to schedule an appointment during a particular time period, please continue to check the Step 2 CS scheduling website. Additional appointments may become available 60 days in advance of a test date.



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


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.


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