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Attempt limit for USMLE examinations

Posted: June 20, 2012

Examinees who have made six or more attempts to pass a Step or Step component, including incomplete attempts, should be aware that all applications to register for additional attempts will not be processed unless they are submitted on or before December 31, 2012. This limit was first announced in August of 2011.

The effective date for the six-attempt limit depends upon whether an examinee has taken any Step or Step Component (including incomplete attempts) before January 1, 2012.

 Examinees who had NOT taken any Step or Step Component before January 1, 2012
If you did not take any Step or Step Component before January 1, 2012, the six-attempt limit went into effect for all exam applications that you submitted on or after January 1, 2012.

Example 1: On January 15, 2012, Examinee A submits his application for his first attempt at any Step or Step Component. The six-attempt limit is effective at that time for all Steps and Step Components and Examinee A will be allowed to take each Step or Step Component no more than six times, including incomplete attempts.

• Examinees who have taken any Step or Step Component before January 1, 2012
If you have taken any Step or Step Component (including incomplete attempts) before January 1, 2012, the six-attempt limit is in effect for all exam applications that you submit on or after January 1, 2013.  After that date, all attempts at a Step or Step Component will be counted toward the limit, regardless of when the exams were taken.

Example 2: Examinee B’s application for a seventh attempt at a particular Step or Step Component is received on December 15, 2012. For this examinee, the six-attempt limit will not prevent the seventh attempt, since the application was submitted before January 1, 2013.  However, if Examinee B fails the exam, he will not be eligible to submit an application after January 1, 2013 to retake that Step or Step Component.

Example 3:  Examinee C attempts to submit an application for a seventh attempt at a particular Step or Step Component on or after January 1, 2013. The application will not be processed, since all exam applications submitted on or after January 1, 2013 will be subject to the six-attempt limit.


Please refer to the Bulletin of Information for more complete information on time and attempt limits.



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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