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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.


Change in minimum passing score for Step 3

Posted: December 09, 2019

The recommended Step 3 minimum passing score will change from 196 to 198. This change will affect examinees who take a Step 3 examination that begins on or after January 1, 2020.

As stated in the USMLE Bulletin of Information and as explained in a previous posting to the USMLE website, the minimum passing score for each USMLE Step examination is reviewed periodically and may be adjusted at any time. 

At its December 2019 meeting, the USMLE Management Committee* conducted a review of the Step 3 examination minimum passing score. During the meeting, the Committee considered information from multiple sources, including:

  • Recommendations from independent groups of physicians who participated in content-based standard-setting activities in 2019;
  • Results of surveys of various groups (e.g., state licensing representatives, medical school faculty, examinees) concerning the appropriateness of current passing requirements for the Step 3 examination;
  • Data on trends in examinee performance;
  • Data on precision of pass/fail classifications. 

As a result of its review, the USMLE Management Committee decided to raise the recommended Step 3 minimum passing score from 196 to 198. 

As noted above, this change will apply to Step 3 examinees who take a Step 3 examination that begins on or
after January 1, 2020.

*The USMLE Management Committee is composed of medical school faculty with experience in undergraduate and graduate education, members of state medical boards, public members, and a resident member. The Management Committee is responsible for setting minimum passing performance levels for all USMLE exams.


USMLE score reporting schedule

Posted: December 02, 2019

Scores for all USMLE Step examinations will be released as regularly scheduled on Wednesday, December 18, 2019. Scores for all USMLE Step examinations will also be released on Tuesday, December 24, 2019. 

Only Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) score reports will be released on Tuesday, December 31, 2019. 
All USMLE scores will be released as regularly scheduled on Wednesday, January 8, 2020.


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