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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.


Step 1 and Step 2 CK – score delays in 2020

Posted: September 04, 2019

Most Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) scores are reported within four weeks of testing. However, because of necessary annual modifications to the test item pools, delays occur for examinees who test at certain times of the year.

Please be aware that examinees testing during the following dates may experience delays in score reporting:

  • Step 1 examinees testing early May through early July 2020 - more specific information will be posted January 2020
  • Step 2 CK examinees testing late June through late August 2020 - more specific information will be posted March 2020

Why is this important to know?

If you need to receive a score before a certain date, plan to take that exam before the projected score delay windows to avoid missing deadlines.


Review of USMLE Step 3 minimum passing performance

Posted: September 03, 2019

The USMLE Management Committee is scheduled to review the minimum passing score for the USMLE Step 3 examination at its meeting on December 4-5, 2019. The Management Committee includes physicians drawn from medical education and licensing as well as members of the public.

The committee establishes and monitors Step 3 performance and completes an in-depth review of the minimum passing standard for each USMLE Step or its component every three to four years.

For the 2019 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 2019;
  • 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; and
  • Measurement precision near the cut score.

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, 2020. The decision of the Committee will be posted at the USMLE website.


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