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USMLE step 1 score report


Understanding USMLE Scores: What You Need to Know

Understanding USMLE scores is an important step in achieving success in the medical field. USMLE results are reported on a 3-digit scale, with the current minimum passing scores being: Step 1 reported as pass/fail only; Step 2 CK 214; and Step 3 198. 

The USMLE Management Committee reviews data for each component in the USMLE sequence approximately once every four years to determine whether the recommended minimum passing score needs to be changed. Additionally, examination data from USMLE examinations may be used by the USMLE program or made available to third parties for research and other purposes. 

If an examinee does not wish for their examination data to be made available, they must advise the USMLE Secretariat in writing no later than 30 days before their administration. 

USMLE Step 1 score reporting will be reported as pass/fail only for exams taken on or after January 26, 2022 and the passing standard is 196. For more information about scores, view Scores Common Questions.

The Current Minimum Passing Scores for the USMLE

The USMLE program provides a recommended pass or fail outcome on all Step examinations. This outcome is based on a specified level of proficiency and is reviewed periodically. For Step 3, your performance on the case simulations will affect your score and could affect whether you pass or fail. 

Examiners typically need to answer approximately 60% of items correctly to achieve a passing score. The proportional contribution of the score on the case simulations is no greater than the amount of time you are given to complete the case simulations. It is important to understand the scoring mechanisms for USMLE examinations in order to maximize your chances of success.

How the USMLE Management Committee Establishes Minimum Passing Scores

The USMLE Management Committee is responsible for establishing the minimum passing score required to pass USMLE examinations. The Committee reviews data for each component of the USMLE sequence every four years and decides whether to change the recommended minimum passing score. 

The current minimum passing scores are: Step 1 is reported as pass/fail only, Step 2 CK is 214 and Step 3 is 198. Examination data from USMLE exams may be used by the USMLE program or made available to third parties for research purposes, however individual examinees will not be identifiable in any publication. If an examinee does not wish their examination data to be used for such purposes, they must advise the USMLE Secretariat in writing no later than 30 days before their administration.

 

What Data is Used for USMLE Examinations?

The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a three-step medical licensing exam that assesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities of medical students and graduates. The USMLE program uses data from the National Board of Medical Examiners to provide continuous test administration, minimum passing scores, and performance data to examinees. 

This data includes the number of examinees tested, the percentage of those who passed, and the scores required to meet the recommended level of proficiency. The USMLE also provides data for Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge, and Step 3 examinations for examinees from US/Canadian schools, as well as for 1st takers and repeaters from non-US/Canadian schools. 

This data is used to ensure that the level of proficiency required to pass remains uniform across forms of the examination. The USMLE Score Interpretation Guidelines provide score interpretation information for each of the three Steps.

 

How ECFMG Discloses USMLE Results to International Medical Schools

ECFMG provides international medical schools with performance data on their students and graduates who take USMLE Step 1 and Step 2. 

The data is provided electronically through the ECFMG Medical School Web Portal (EMSWP) Performance Data program and includes the examinee's name, USMLE/ECFMG Identification Number, unique medical school identification number, the examination taken, the date it was taken, whether the examinee passed or failed, and, for Step 1 and Step 2 CK, the numerical score. 

Examinees have the opportunity to have their individual exam results withheld from their medical school by submitting a request through ECFMG's Interactive Web Applications (IWA). Aggregate performance data, including pass rates by examination, may also be made available to eligible medical schools on an annual basis.

 

How to Ensure Your USMLE Step 1 Exam Data is Confidential

To ensure that your USMLE Step 1 Exam data is kept confidential, it is important to follow the Test Center Rules of Conduct. This includes not bringing any electronic devices, study materials, notes, or other personal items into the secure areas of the test center. 

Additionally, it is important to maintain the confidentiality of all USMLE content and not communicate with anyone about test items, cases, and/or answers before, during, or after the examination. 

Violations of these rules may result in sanctions such as cancellation of exam scores, a ban on future testing, an annotation on your USMLE transcript, and reports to the Federation of State Medical Boards' Physician Data Center. To prevent this, familiarize yourself with the Rules of Conduct prior to taking the exam and be sure to follow them closely.

 

The Impact of USMLE Step 1 score Reporting Changes

The recent change to pass/fail score reporting for the USMLE Step 1 exam has created understandable concern among residency program directors. Historically, three-digit scores have been used to review residency applications, as it was believed that student performance on this exam correlated with ABOS Part I exam success. 

However, this change in score reporting provides an opportunity for the orthopedic community to reflect on what is truly important for a successful orthopedic surgeon and if there are better ways to evaluate applicants. 

It also provides an opportunity to improve diversity in the profession, as USMLE Step 1 scores have been found to be correlated to student demographics and the proliferation of test prep materials has led to an "arms race" among students with financial resources. 

This change in score reporting can help to level the playing field and allow for a more holistic evaluation of residency applicants.

 

Strategies to Prepare and Achieve a High Score on the USMLE

7 Strategies to Prepare and Achieve a High Score on the USMLE

  • Start Preparing Early: Start studying for the USMLE Step 1 as soon as you enter medical school. Take practice exams and create a digital study diary to track your progress.

  • ake Practice Exams: Make sure to take Step practice exams regularly to get familiar with the format and types of questions. This will help you understand how to narrow down possible answers more quickly.

  • Get 1:1 Tutoring: Consider getting private tutoring to help you increase your performance. MedSmarter offers USMLE Step 1 tutoring both in person and online via web conferencing.

  • Invest in Test Prep Courses: Enroll in a Step 1 Prep Course if you feel like you need additional help. Small class sizes in a clinical-like environment from doctors holding MDs and PhDs can help you perform higher on the USMLE Step 1.

  • Utilize Free Resources: Take advantage of free resources such as questions breakdowns, Step 1 practice quizzes, and MCAT practice quizzes.

  • Don’t Waste Time on Clinical Questions: The USMLE Step 1 is not a clinical exam, and it only includes a few clinical questions. Place emphasis on studying pathways, pathology, mechanisms, genetics, biostatistics, and experiments instead.

  • Stay Well-Prepared: Make sure you’re well-prepared in biostatistics, calculations, and terminology. Also get a good night’s sleep, stay hydrated, eat brain proteins, and plan your Step 1 breaks accordingly.

How to Opt-Out of USMLE Data Being Used for Research and Other Purposes

If you do not wish for your USMLE data to be used for research and other purposes, you can opt out of having your data shared by following the steps outlined in the Notice. 

First, you can choose to not provide certain personal information when completing various forms for the USMLE and/or NBME programs and services for medical schools, students, and graduates of medical schools. 

Second, you can control the use of cookies at the individual browser level. 

Third, you can opt out of interest-based advertising by participating companies in the Digital Advertising Alliance’s self-regulatory opt-out page, the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance's consumer opt-out page, or the Network Advertising Initiative’s self-regulatory opt-out page. Finally, you can opt out of Google Analytics and other third-party services for analytics and marketing purposes by visiting the Google Analytics opt-out page.

 

Common Question about USMLE Step 1 score Report 

Q: How can I opt out of USMLE data being used for research and other purposes?

A: You must submit a request to the USMLE Secretariat via email at least 30 days before your examination administration. For Step 1 and Step 2 CK, you must also submit a request from your email account of record at least 10 business days before your scheduled test date. For Step 3, you must specify your reporting preference on your application.

Q. What happened to my USMLE examination data?

A. Your USMLE examination data (including performance information) may be used by the USMLE program or made available to third parties for research and other purposes. The data will remain confidential and individual examinees will not be identifiable in any publication. If you do not want your examination data to be used for such purposes, you must notify the USMLE Secretariat at least 30 days before your test date.

Q. Can my USMLE results be reported to my medical school?

A. Yes, NBME may report the results of the USMLE to LCME- and COCA-accredited medical school programs for their students and graduates. For Step 1 and Step 2 CK, you must send a request from your email account at least 10 business days before your scheduled test date in order to opt out of having your results reported to your medical school. For Step 3, you must indicate your reporting preference on your application. 

The ECFMG may provide the results of the USMLE to international medical schools for their students and graduates; a request for each examination administration must be submitted via the ECFMG website at least 10 business days before your scheduled test date in order to opt out.

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