Exciting news was released earlier this month in regards to the USMLE Step Exams. Key changes are coming into play, from the USMLE Step 1 scoring report, the amount of attempts for each exam, to exam prerequisites. 

To start, the USMLE Step 1 scoring report will be changed from a three-digit numeric score to a Pass/Fail, effective no earlier than January 1, 2022. The objective for this monumental USMLE Step 1 score change, is to ideally reduce the overemphasis on USMLE performance. Taking the 2018 NRMP Director Survey into account, residency program directors held a citing factor of 94%, and a 4.1 out of 5 average rating of significance when it came to considering USMLE Step 1/COMLEX Level 1 scores. In regards to the Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) and Step 2 Clinical Skills both will remain to be a numeric score and Pass/Fail respectively.

The change will evidently affect how residency program directors, and residency admissions committees review a residency application. USMLE co sponsoring organizations Federal State of Medical Boards (FSMB), and National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®) believe that the USMLE Step 1 changes, alongside the original score reporting of USMLE Step 2 CS, and USMLE Step 2 CK, will force residency programs to make a more holistic view of a residency application, without negatively affecting the overall educational and licensing environment.

To further analyze the current most up to date NRMP Director Survey, we can then expect an increased significance in applicant’s: letter of recommendations in the applied specialty, Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE), USMLE Step 2 CK, Personal Statements and so forth. With the initial news just settling, there is still much to be anticipated on just how residency programs, admission committees, and program directors will adjust to said changes.

Below, we will continue to update this post with questions asked by residency candidates. Please click each to read our responses:

As of March 9, 2020, the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) had not made a decision if they will disclose both the 3 digit score of an examinee who took the exam in the past on transcripts issued after January 1, 2022. However the NBME has established precedence on not displaying an examinee’s 2 digit score when they transitioned to 3-digit scoring system. Due to the reasons why the 3 digit scoring system is being abolished (such as the residency programs using the 3 digit scores to filter residency applicants), we predict that the 3-digit score will be completely replaced by a simple Pass or Fail as of January 1, 2022.