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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 2012 Bulletin of Information for more complete information on time and attempt limits.



Updated abbreviation list for Step 2 CS patient notes

Posted: November 03, 2014

Examinees complete a patient note after each patient encounter in the Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examination. A list of common abbreviations that may be used in the notes is included in the Step 2 Clinical Skills Content Description and General Information booklet, and is posted at each computer station at all Clinical Skills Evaluation Collaboration (CSEC) test centers.

The Step 2 Clinical Skills Content Description and General Information booklet now includes an updated version of the abbreviation list; this version will be posted at test centers beginning November 3, 2014.

Changes to the list are minor. Examinees should be aware that this is not a complete list of all acceptable abbreviations, but rather represents the types of common abbreviations that may be used on the patient note. Patient notes are rated by licensed, board-certified physicians with experience in medical education, who will understand common medical abbreviations. However, an examinee who is in doubt about the correct abbreviation to use should write out the word or phrase.


USMLE Score Interpretation Guidelines

Posted: October 30, 2014

USMLE Score Interpretation Guidelines (SIG) have been posted to the USMLE website. Topics include:

  • Description of Examinations
  • Understanding Your Score
  • Recent Means and Standard Deviations (SDs)
    • Norm Table
    • Passing Scores
  • Precision of Scores
  • Guidelines for Use of USMLE Step Scores for Selection Decisions

The means and SDs and the norm table will be updated annually. Because percentile ranks depend on the cohort of examinees, you should always use the most recent norm table available on the USMLE website to obtain percentile ranks.


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