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USMLE Scores

The scoring system for the three steps of the United States Medical Licensing Examination is designed to provide an accurate assessment of the candidate's knowledge and skill in providing basic clinical treatment. The three multiple-choice components of the USMLE (Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3) are taken on a computer, which then sends the scores to the National Board of Medical Examiners. This organization scores the tests and converts the number of items answered correctly into two scores. Note that the USMLE scores are based on the number of items answered correctly; in other words, there is no penalty for questions answered incorrectly. For this reason, it is always best for a candidate to make the best possible guess for those items he or she does not know.

You can get an idea of how your score compares to your peers by entering your stats in the toolbox at the top of the page. The stats show how you stack up for individual specialties and are based on national figures.

USMLE Scores for the Multiple Choice Sections of the USMLE Exam

The two scores generated by the NBME are placed on a three-digit and a two-digit scale, respectively. The three-digit score is considered to be the more descriptive measure, but many medical licensing authorities specifically require a passing score of 75, and so the three-digit score is converted into a two-digit equivalent. On the three-digit scale, the vast majority of scores on the Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 exams fall somewhere between 140 and 260. The mean score is between 200 and 220, with a standard deviation of about 20. As indicated above, the minimum passing score on the two-digit scale is 75. Depending on the difficulty of the test version, candidates will typically have to answer 60 to 70% of the multiple-choice questions correctly in order to pass.

USMLE Scores for the Step 2 CS Section of the USMLE Exam

The Step 2 CS exam, meanwhile, must be scored differently since it is an observation exam. No numerical score is assigned to candidates on the Step 2 CS; the candidate will only be told whether he or she has passed or failed. If for some reason the candidate does not see the complete number of patients, he or she can still be given a grade based on performance in the rest of the exam. In other words, if the candidate performs well enough on the other patient encounters to off-set any negative result on the patients not seen, the candidate can still pass the exam.

USMLE Preparation information provided by Morrison Media LLC

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