Scheduled Review of USMLE Step 3 Passing Standard

Posted September 28, 2023

The USMLE Management Committee is scheduled to conduct a review of the passing standard for USMLE Step 3 at its December 2023 meeting.

As part of the USMLE program’s operational procedures and in alignment with best practices for licensing and certification exams, a comprehensive review and analysis of the passing standard for each Step exam typically occurs every three to four years. This ensures that the passing standard is consistent with expectations of the level of content mastery of the knowledge and skills needed to support effective medical practice and licensure.  

For the 2023 Step 3 review, information from multiple sources will be considered, including:

  • Recommendations from independent groups of physicians unaffiliated with the USMLE participating in content-based standard-setting panels in September and October 2023;
  • Results of surveys of various groups (e.g., state licensing representatives, residency program directors, medical school faculty, examinees) concerning the appropriateness of current passing standards for the Step 3 examination;
  • Data on trends in examinee performance; and
  • Score precision and its effect on the pass/fail outcome.

The USMLE program provides advanced notice of Step exam reviews and any adjustments on the USMLE website. The review process also appears in the USMLE Bulletin of Information.

If the Committee determines that a change to the passing standard is appropriate, the new recommended passing standard will become effective for all examinees who take the Step 3 examination on or after January 1, 2024. As more information becomes available, updates and the final decision will appear on the USMLE website.