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USMLE Update on Resuming Testing

Posted: May 08, 2020

Resuming USMLE testing remains our top priority. Below, please read several key updates.

Status of Prometric Testing

Testing resumed at select Prometric centers on Friday, May 1 in accordance with state and local social distancing guidelines. Although hundreds of examinees successfully tested, the overall examinee experience is not meeting expectations. We continue to exert pressure on Prometric to rectify all issues in a timely manner. We are working daily with Prometric and they have dedicated resources to both resume USMLE testing and address the quality of the examinee experience.
 
We understand that when Prometric test centers reopened, some examinees with confirmed slots traveled to test centers only to find them closed, leading to increased confusion during an already difficult situation. We have been disappointed with Prometric’s failure to fulfill its obligations to examinees and to the USMLE program. We have emphasized to Prometric the importance of their obligations to examinees and the harm that their failures have caused.

Examinees who have suffered direct out-of-pocket monetary losses due to Prometric’s lack of communication or miscommunication regarding test center closures should submit a written claim directly to Prometric at prometric.com/contact-us.

In March 2020, in response to the suspension in testing, the USMLE program extended eligibility periods to December 2020 for all examinees who had a Step 1, 2 CK or 3 scheduling permit with an unexpired eligibility period with an end date in 2020. To help alleviate some of the pressure examinees may be feeling, we will further extend USMLE eligibility periods through June 2021.

  • Note: Eligibility period extensions will be processed approximately over the next eight to twelve weeks.

Alternate Delivery of USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3
To resume testing, we have already identified several options for proctored testing outside of Prometric centers. We are expecting to begin testing at some medical school campuses this month. USMLE is committed to offering a broader distribution of testing at medical schools; we are working through technological challenges in order to do so. While this solution will not completely address the testing backlog, it will provide additional USMLE-specified slots within Prometric’s overall capacity, which is increasing. Schools are being considered based on geographic locations, and a willingness to serve as a regional testing site. Because we are not able to scale this solution to all schools, we plan to deliver other solutions as well. We will ramp-up testing as we institute new systems and processes.

We continue to aggressively explore remote proctoring and expect to have progress to report on the timeline for that project in the next week.

Validity, Reliability, and Fairness
We recognize the burden that reduced testing capacity places on schools and examinees. As we move forward with solutions to alleviate this burden, we must also evaluate the fairness of any test administration method. We need to ensure that our test administration models allow all test takers to reliably and validly demonstrate their skills and maximize, to the extent possible, fairness, access, security, and reliability. Increasing capacity by deploying exam administrations to schools may create differential geographic access. Similarly, with respect to remote proctoring, we recognize that not all schools or individuals have equal access to high-speed internet, a computer that meets the technology requirements for remote proctoring, or dedicated space in which to take the test.

Given these issues of fairness and bias, we will continue to work with organizations in the medical education and the medical regulatory community to identify temporary changes to policy and requirements such as relaxing requirements for promotion, graduation, or licensing decisions. We are committed to continuing our focus on delivering safe testing and fair test results for examinees.

Step 2 CS
As announced previously, Step 2 CS testing has been suspended due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, and the USMLE program is pursuing testing solutions to ensure the health and safety of examinees and test center staff. After careful consideration, the USMLE program has determined that it cannot resume the exam in its current format without unacceptable risk to examinees and staff.

Prior to COVID-19, the USMLE program was in the very early stages of exploring alternate formats and methods for delivery of the Step 2 CS exam, as part of overall efforts to enhance the USMLE. As a result of COVID-19, these plans have been accelerated and are focused on a testing solution that employs a telehealth model, where examinees and standardized patients would interact online, via a web browser. The USMLE program is aggressively assessing this solution, which will require significant redesign of the exam's content and delivery. Expediting such changes to the exam format and delivery will help result in a safe and effective assessment for all involved.

At this time, Step 2 CS testing is expected to resume after July.

Please know that we are doing everything we can to address the challenges of this new environment quickly, and that we will continue to provide you with updates on our progress.


Comprehensive Approach to Gather Perspectives Kicks-off

Posted: July 06, 2020

To obtain stakeholder input on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) assessment and how clinical skills would be ideally assessed for licensure in the future, a wide group of medical educators, clinicians, patient advocates, examinees, and others will be contacted over the next 2 weeks to gather insights and expertise regarding performance-based clinical skills assessment.

The information collected will help identify important characteristics of a performance-based exam for national licensure.

The USMLE program is committed to providing the state medical boards with a valid, standardized measurement of clinical skills. While administration of Step 2 CS is suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak and need to social distance, the program will use the coming months to gather information for identification of the optimal approach to assess clinical skills for licensure.

The initial survey is one step in a comprehensive approach to collect feedback over the course of the months to come.

Visit USME.org/RevitalizeCS for more information and updates as the initiative progresses.


COVID-19 Update for the USMLE® Program

Posted: June 29, 2020
Updated: June 29, 2020

The USMLE program provides updates on the USMLE attempt limit policy, Step 2 Clinical Skills refunds, and testing capacity.  More Info »


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