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Changes to USMLE procedures for reporting scores

Posted: May 04, 2011


Starting July 1, 2011, USMLE transcripts reported through the ERAS reporting system will no longer include score results on the 2-digit score scale. USMLE results will continue to be reported on the 3-digit scale. This affects the Step 1, 2 CK, and 3 examinations only; Step 2 CS will continue to be reported as pass or fail. These changes do not alter the score required to pass or the difficulty of any of the USMLE Step examinations.

Since its beginning in the 1990s, the USMLE program has reported two numeric scores for the Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 examinations, one on a 3-digit scale and one on a 2-digit scale. The 3-digit score scale is considered the primary reporting scale; it is developed in a manner that allows reasonable comparisons across time. The 2-digit scale is intended to meet statutory requirements of some state medical boards that rely on a score scale that has 75 as the minimum passing score.  The process used to convert 3-digit scores to 2-digit scores is designed in such a way that the 3-digit minimum passing score in effect when the examinee tests is associated with a 2-digit score of 75.

The USMLE program requires its governing committees to reevaluate the minimum passing score every three to four years. This process has, at times, resulted in changes in the minimum passing score, expressed on the 3-digit scale, and an accompanying change in the score conversion process, to ensure that a 2-digit score of 75 is associated with the new minimum passing requirement. A by-product of the adjustment of the score conversion system over time has been a shift in the relationship between the two score scales. This shift has no impact for USMLE score users who use the 3-digit scoring scale or for those using the 2-digit scale with a primary interest in whether the examinee has a passing 2-digit score of at least 75. However, it may create challenges in interpretation for score users who are focusing on 2-digit scores, other than 75, and are doing so for purposes of comparing USMLE scores that span several years.

To simplify matters and make interpretation of USMLE information more convenient for score users, the USMLE Composite Committee has asked staff to report 2-digit scores only to those score users for whom the scale is intended, i.e., the state medical boards. The Committee also asked that examinees continue to receive scores on both scales so that they are fully informed about the information that will be reported when they ask that results be sent to a state medical board. When examinees request that their results be sent to other score users, only the 3-digit score will be reported. Current plans call for these changes to begin with the elimination of the 2-digit score from USMLE transcripts reported through the ERAS reporting system starting July 1, 2011. Other systems and procedures for reporting results will be similarly modified as soon as possible after the July 1, 2011 date.


UPDATE - USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK Practice Sessions

Posted: March 23, 2015

Three new user-adjustable display features were piloted in USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) Practice Sessions delivered at Prometric Test Centers beginning November 3, 2014:

  • Reverse color (color inversion)
  • Text magnification
  • Image magnification

The first 500 examinees who scheduled an appointment for a Practice Session with the new display features were offered a $40 discount applied to their fee.

The pilot has ended, and the discount is no longer in effect.

Examinees who take a Step 1 or Step 2 CK Practice Session may see the new display features, but should be aware that the display features are NOT currently available on live USMLE administrations or in practice materials available on the USMLE website.

When the new user-adjustable display features become available for use in USMLE Step examinations and the online practice materials, examinees will be notified.


Step 1 – Delay in score reporting and change in number of test items

Posted: March 18, 2015

Most score reporting of Step 1 results occurs within four weeks of testing.  However, because of necessary modifications to the test item pool, there will be a delay in reporting for some examinees who test beginning the week of May 11th.

The target date for reporting Step 1 scores for most examinees testing the week of May 11th through late June will be Wednesday, July 8, 2015.  For examinees whose circumstances require that they receive Step 1 scores before July 8, it is recommended that they take Step 1 no later than Friday, May 8, 2015.

During this time period (starting the week of May 11th), a transition will occur in the number of items in current forms of the Step 1 examination.  The change will be from a total of 322 items to 308 items. Although the transition will occur quickly at many test centers, there may be some locations where the changes take slightly longer to complete. The overall transition period will likely last approximately 6 weeks. Please note the following:

• Scores on new and old forms will be comparable; the decrease in the number of items per form will be accounted for in scoring the examination results.
• The length of the examination day will remain unchanged. The test day will continue to be divided into seven 60-minute blocks, administered in one seven-hour testing session.
• The number of items per block will decrease from 46 to 44. There will be a total of 308 items on each examination.


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