The USMLE program recommends a minimum passing level for each Step examination. The USMLE Step Committees are responsible for establishing and monitoring these standards, and are asked to complete an in-depth review of each examination every three to four years.

The Step 2 Committee is scheduled to review the minimum passing level for the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examination at its meeting on December 18, 2012. In addition to meeting the requirement of a periodic in-depth review of standards, this effort is prompted by previously announced changes to the exam, which include a redesigned Communication and Interpersonal Skills subcomponent as well as a redesigned Patient Note.

In the review, the Step 2 Committee will considered data from multiple sources, including:

  • Results of content-based standard setting exercises conducted with three independent groups of physicians in 2012;
  • Results of surveys of various groups (e.g., state licensing representatives, medical school faculty, samples of examinees) concerning the appropriateness of current pass/fail standards for Step examinations;
  • Trends in examinee performance;
  • Score precision and its effect on the pass/fail outcome.

The decision of the Step 2 Committee will be published on Medicalopedia after the meeting. If the Committee determines that a change to the minimum passing level is appropriate, the new recommended minimum passing level will become effective for all examinees who take a Step 2 CS examination on or after January 1, 2013.

The USMLE Step Committees have already changed the minimum passing score for USMLE Step 2 CK and USMLE Composite Committee divided Step 3 into two parts earlier this year.