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Review of USMLE Step 3 minimum passing performance

Posted: September 03, 2019

The USMLE Management Committee is scheduled to review the minimum passing score for the USMLE Step 3 examination at its meeting on December 4-5, 2019. The Management Committee includes physicians drawn from medical education and licensing as well as members of the public.

The committee establishes and monitors Step 3 performance and completes an in-depth review of the minimum passing standard for each USMLE Step or its component every three to four years.

For the 2019 Step 3 review, information from multiple sources will be considered, including:

  • Results of content-based standard setting exercises conducted with three independent groups of physicians in 2019;
  • Results of surveys of various groups (e.g., state licensing representatives, medical school faculty, samples of examinees) concerning the appropriateness of current pass/fail standards for Step examinations;
  • Trends in examinee performance; and
  • Measurement precision near the cut score.

If the Committee determines that a change to the minimum passing score is appropriate, the new recommended minimum passing score will become effective for all examinees who take a Step 3 examination on or after January 1, 2020. The decision of the Committee will be posted at the USMLE website.


USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK content changes scheduled for mid-2020

Posted: November 05, 2019

Beginning in mid-2020, the Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) examinations will include an increased number of questions assessing communication skills, system-based practice and patient safety, and legal/ethical skills and professionalism. The length of the testing days for Step 1 and Step 2 CK will not change.

Decisions about the balance of content on USMLE examinations are the responsibility of two groups: the USMLE Composite Committee and USMLE Management Committee. Both are composed of educators, practicing physicians, members with experience on state medical licensure boards, and public members. These committees approved the increase in the number of test items assessing the important competencies listed above. 

Timetable:

  • Beginning in May 2020, Step 1 will include additional questions assessing communication skills.
  • Beginning in June/July 2020, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge will include additional questions on systems-based practice, patient safety, legal/ethical issues, and professionalism.
  • No changes to the Step 3 examination are planned during this timeframe. 

Sample test items illustrating assessment of communications skills, systems-based practice and patient safety, and legal/ethical skills and professionalism are provided in the Step 1 Content Description and General Information booklet (pp. 7-11) and in the Step 2 Clinical Knowledge Content Description and General Information booklet (pp. 8-11).

The practice materials available on USMLE.org will be updated in early 2020 to reflect these changes in the distribution of exam content across content categories on Step 1 and Step 2 CK.


Possible changes to USMLE scores – continuing the discussion

Posted: October 08, 2019

A podcast featuring two members of the Invitational Conference on USMLE Scoring (InCUS) planning committee, Dr. Michael Barone, Vice President of Licensure Programs for NBME, and Dave Johnson, Senior Vice President, Assessment Services for the Federation of State Medical Boards, is now available. They discuss themes from the public comments, upcoming improvements to USMLE, and insight into the vision for the program.

You can listen to the podcast here.


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