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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.



USMLE Physician Tasks/Competencies

Posted: July 10, 2014

USMLE Physician Tasks/Competencies, a publication that provides a common organization of competencies and tasks assessed in USMLE examinations, is now available.

The outline comprises seven major sections:

  • Medical Knowledge/Scientific Concepts
  • Patient Care: Diagnosis
  • Patient Care: Management
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  • Professionalism, including Legal and Ethical Issues
  • Systems-based Practice, including Patient Safety
  • Practice-based Learning

While this outline is common to all USMLE examinations, each Step will continue to have test specifications specific to that Step and will emphasize certain parts of the outline.

The USMLE Step 3 Content Description and General Information booklet contains a description of physician tasks/competencies covered in the restructured Step 3 examination for examinees taking the Step 3 examination on or after November 3, 2014. An updated USMLE Step 2 CK Content Description and General Information booklet containing a description of physician tasks/competencies covered in that examination will be available in July 2014.

USMLE Physician Tasks/Competencies is useful for understanding competencies assessed by multiple-choice question (MCQ) formats such as Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge, and the MCQ portion of Step 3. The outline will be updated as work to identify competencies covered by non-MCQ exam formats progresses.


Practice materials and other information for examinees taking the restructured Step 3 examination on or after November 3, 2014

Posted: July 10, 2014

Practice and informational materials for the restructured Step 3 examination have been posted to the USMLE website. Examinees who plan to take a Step 3 examination on or after November 3, 2014 should read the materials and practice with the sample items and cases. The materials include:

A summary of changes resulting from the restructuring of the Step 3 examination is also available.
Practice and informational materials for examinees taking the current Step 3 examination, which will be administered through September 30, 2014, will remain available on the USMLE website until early October, 2014.


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