Exam prerequisite for Step 2 Clinical Skills

The USMLE program is implementing an examination prerequisite for Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS)—specifically, all examinees will be required to pass Step 1 in order to take Step 2 CS. Further details are forthcoming and this policy will take effect no earlier than March 1, 2021.

In taking this action, the USMLE Composite Committee, the governing body of USMLE, considered multiple factors to ensure that the program fulfills its ongoing mission to protect the public by providing medical licensing authorities with a secure, high-quality assessment of prospective physicians.

The committee reviewed data indicating that the vast majority of examinees routinely take and pass Step 1 before attempting Step 2 CS. Limiting access to Step 2 CS to those individuals with a track record of prior success on a USMLE Step protects the integrity of the exam and limits the time and resources examinees might commit unnecessarily without first having demonstrated success along the path to licensure. The committee also noted similar prerequisite policies in other exam programs for medical licensure, which require examinees to first pass a knowledge exam before a performance exam.

For more information regarding this policy change, please review the FAQs below.

Prerequisite FAQs

When does the Step 2 CS prerequisite policy take effect?

This policy change will take effect no earlier than March 1, 2021, with further details forthcoming later this year.

What is the new prerequisite policy?

The USMLE program is implementing an examination prerequisite for Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS)—specifically, all examinees will be required to pass Step 1 in order to take Step 2 CS.

Why is the USMLE implementing a prerequisite policy?

The USMLE Composite Committee, the governing body of USMLE, reviewed data indicating that the vast majority of examinees routinely take and pass Step 1 before attempting Step 2 CS. Limiting access to Step 2 CS to those individuals with a track record of prior success on a USMLE Step also protects the integrity of the exam and limits the time and resources examinees might commit unnecessarily without first having demonstrated success along the path to licensure. The committee also noted similar prerequisite policies in other exam programs for medical licensure, which require examinees to first pass a knowledge exam before a performance exam.

What does the prerequisite policy mean for someone who has not passed Step 1 before the policy takes effect?

Specific details regarding the timing and logistics of this policy change will be announced in the coming months.


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