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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: April 26, 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.


UPDATE - Review of USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills minimum passing performance

Posted: January 24, 2017
Updated: April 19, 2017

Because severe winter weather resulted in cancellation and rescheduling of one of the standard setting panels that review test content for the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examination, dates for the review by the USMLE Management Committee and for possible changes in the recommended minimum passing requirements to take effect have changed. Please see below for new dates.

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 2017 Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) review, information from multiple sources will be considered, including:

  • Results of content-based standard setting exercises conducted with three groups of physicians who have not previously participated in USMLE test committees;
  • Results of surveys of various groups (e.g., samples of examinees, state licensing representatives, medical school faculty) 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 requirements for the USMLE Step 2 CS examination at its July 29 - August 1 meeting (originally scheduled for May 2017).

If the Committee determines that a change is appropriate, the new recommended minimum passing requirements will become effective for all examinees who take a Step 2 CS examination on or after September 10, 2017 (originally July 16, 2017.)

The decision of the Committee will be posted on the USMLE website immediately following the July 29 - August 1 meeting.


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