What Do You Think About USMLE Step 1 Becoming Pass/Fail?

February 19, 2020

News that the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) program will change its Step 1 scoring from a 3-digit number to pass/fail starting January 1, 2022, has set off a flurry of shocked responses from students and physicians.

The USMLE cosponsors — the Federation of State Medical Boards and the National Board of Medical Examiners — say the Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) exam and Step 3 will continue to be scored numerically. Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) will continue its pass/fail system.

The change was made after Step 1 had been roundly criticized as playing too big a role in the process of becoming a physician, causing students to study for the test instead of engaging fully in their medical education.


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