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Computer-assisted scoring coming to Step 2 CS

Posted: September 26, 2019

The United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) program is committed to applying the best available technology and the most current assessment practices to ensure accuracy and validity for all its examination programs. Beginning October 2019, computer-assisted scoring technology will be used to score patient notes created by examinees for the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examination.

The use of computer-assisted scoring will not change the cost of the exam, nor the timing with which examinees receive their scores. The computer-assisted scoring program is based on the scoring rubrics developed by experienced physician note raters. For cases in which computer-assisted scoring is used, notes with machine scores below the 50th percentile in performance will also be scored by physician patient note raters. The machine scores and physician scores will then be averaged to produce the examinee’s score on the patient note portion of the Step 2 CS exam.

Much consideration has gone into the implementation of computer-assisted scoring. Most importantly, the crucial role of clinical judgment in the evaluation of Step 2 CS performances will be preserved. Second, the examinee experience will not be adversely affected. The expert judgment of physicians will be used on an ongoing basis for the development of patient note scoring guidelines and in the training of the computer-based scoring system.

Click here for FAQs related to computer-assisted scoring. To read more about NBME’s work with natural language processing, see a recent article in Academic Medicine here.


USMLE program announces upcoming policy changes

Posted: February 12, 2020

Today, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®), co-sponsors of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®), announced upcoming policy changes to the USMLE program.

These new policies will continue to enable the USMLE program to provide high-quality assessments for the primary user of exam results (state medical boards) while also addressing other considerations, such as exam security and unintended consequences of secondary score uses. The secondary uses of Step 1 scores for residency screening, in particular, have been the focus of extensive discussion over the past year at the FSMB and NBME, within the USMLE program, and with multiple stakeholders within the broader medical education and regulatory communities.

“These new policies strengthen the integrity of the USMLE and address concerns about Step 1 scores impacting student well-being and medical education,” said Humayun Chaudhry, DO, MACP, President and CEO of the FSMB. “Although the primary purpose of the exam is to assess the knowledge and skills essential to safe patient care, it is important that we improve the transition from undergraduate to graduate medical education.”

“The USMLE program governance carefully considered input from multiple sources in coming to these decisions. Recognizing the complexity of the environment and the desire for improvement, continuation of the status quo was not the best way forward,” reported Peter Katsufrakis, MD, MBA, President and CEO of NBME. “Both program governance and staff believe these changes represent improvements to the USMLE program and create the environment for improved student experiences in their education and their transition to residency."

These policy changes are currently planned to be phased in over the next 11-24 months. For specific information on each policy, consult the links above to the detailed statements accompanying each policy change. A podcast supplementing the information contained in this announcement is below.


Potential impact of coronavirus on USMLE examination administrations

Posted: January 30, 2020

The USMLE program continues to monitor the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and is prepared to take appropriate measures as warranted to protect the health and safety of examinees and the public.

Whenever an examinee has a scheduled testing appointment, it is important to monitor the impact of illness, weather, or other conditions on USMLE administrations by going to the Prometric website (for Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 exams) and the CSEC website (for Step 2 Clinical Skills exams) for updates. Test centers may close at any time. 

If you have been impacted by a test center closure related to the corona virus and need assistance with rescheduling your examination, please contact your registration entity.

It is also always important to monitor your own health. If you do not feel well on the day of your test, we strongly encourage you to reschedule your examination. If you become ill while taking any USMLE exam, inform a proctor promptly.

Please check the USMLE website for updates on the potential impact of coronavirus on USMLE administrations.


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