USMLE to stop reporting two digit scores on examinees’ transcripts starting April 2013


usmleTo eliminate the misuse of and confusion surrounding the 2-digit scale, the USMLE Composite Committee, the governing body of the USMLE program, directed the staff to discontinue its reporting.

Since its beginning in the 1990s, the USMLE program has reported two numeric scores for the Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 examinations, one on a 3-digit scale and one on a 2-digit scale. The 3-digit score scale is considered the primary reporting scale; it is developed in a manner that allows reasonable comparisons across time. The 2-digit scale is intended to meet legislative requirements of some state medical boards that rely on a score scale that has 75 as the minimum passing score. The process used to convert 3-digit scores to 2-digit scores is designed in such a way that the 3-digit minimum passing score in effect when the examinee tests is associated with a 2-digit score of 75.

The USMLE program requires its governing committees to reevaluate the minimum passing score for each Step every three to four years. This process has, at times, resulted in changes in the minimum passing score, expressed on the 3-digit scale, and an accompanying change in the score conversion process, to ensure that a 2-digit score of 75 is associated with the new minimum passing requirement. A by-product of the adjustment of the score conversion system over time has been a shift in the relationship between the two score scales. This shift has no impact for USMLE score users who use the 3-digit scoring scale or for those using the 2-digit scale with a primary interest in whether the examinee has a passing 2-digit score of at least 75. However, it may create challenges in interpretation for score users who are focusing on 2-digit scores, other than 75, and are doing so for purposes of comparing USMLE scores that span several years.

As we previously reported, the USMLE program begun the process of eliminating the reporting of results on the 2-digit score scale to parties other than the examinee and any state licensing authority to which the examinee sends results. This process began on July 1, 2011 with elimination of 2-digit scores from USMLE transcripts reported through ERAS.

The USMLE program yesterday announced to extend this change in reporting to include ALL score recipients (e.g., examinees, state medical boards). This equals that scores on the 2-digit scale will no longer be calculated nor reported. 2-digit score is expected to be eliminate completely on or about April of 2013. This change pertains to the Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 examinations only; Step 2 CS will continue to be reported as pass or fail.