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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.



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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