USMLE Scoring and Passing Status

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With the exception of Step 2 CS (which is reported as Pass/Fail), there are two scales on which USMLE results are reported: a 3-digit scale and a 2-digit scale.

The 2-digit scale requires minimum score of 75 to be declared pass. On the 3-digit scale, the current minimum passing scores are stated below:

  • Step 1: 188
  • Step 2 CK: 196
  • Step 3: 190

Highlights of Scoring

  • Passing is 188/75 with mean as 221 & 22 points is 1 SD
  • Allopathic med students: 95% pass on first try & 99% eventually pass
  • Osteopathic med students: 77% pass on first try
  • IMGs: 71% pass on first try
  • Just pass the exam means you have a score of 200 − 221
  • Beat the mean reflects your score to be 222 − 244
  • Ace the exam means getting more than 245 score
  • Radiology/Radiation Oncology
  • Ortho/Ophtho/Otolaryngo/Urology
  • Aesthetic Surgery
  • Dermatology

FAQs on Scoring

I just received my score report for a computer-delivered Step. Why are there two different scores on the front of the report?

  • Both scores reflect your overall performance on the examination. Whatever you have answered correctly in the exam, its raw scores will be converted to two equivalent scores, one on a 3-digit score scale and one on a 2-digit score scale. Both scales are used when are reported to state medical boards. If you want scored to be reported to other score users, only the 3-digit score will be reported.

What does the 3-digit score mean?

  • On the 3-digit scale, most scores fall between 140 and 260. The mean score in US of the students who take the exam for the first time is between 215 to 235, and the standard deviation is approximately 20. Your score report also shows your mean scor and standard deviation for recent administrations of the Step.
  • Score information for each Step, including performance data by group, is posted each year for the previous year's examinees.

What does the 2-digit score mean?

  • The 2-digit score is not a percentile. It is derived from the 3-digit score. This score is only for those medical licensing authorities who opt that the passing score should be reported as 75. The 2-digit score is coverted in a manner which reflects that a score of 75 always is the minimum passing score.

What are the graphical performance profiles?

  • We send you the graphical representation of your performance which is reflected on the second page of your individual Step score report. This is only for you to assess your areas of strengths and weaknesses and will not be made available to any third party. Please consult page 2 of your score report for further information on what the profiles mean and how to interpret them.

What is my percentile?

  • Percentiles are not reported in the USMLE scores. The mannerism of calculating and providing such data as to calculate the percentile does not match up with the goal of taking this test which is to provide a series of assessments and recommendations for the least passing requirements to the state licensing authorities to support decisions about initial licensure. Moreover, this data is not much useful as over the period of time, this can change according to situations for the purpose of comparison. For these reasons, USMLE does not report percentiles.
  • Under current procedures, the raw scores obtained in USMLE Step are converted to give 3-digit score which remains the same and comparable for years to come. The score conversion at the levof 200 is comparable on any other administration of the same Step. This equivalence holds even if the pass-fail standard is changed, which permits comparing performance across time.
  • The 2-digit score is not a percentile. It is derived from the 3-digit score. This score is only for those medical licensing authorities who opt that the passing score should be reported as 75. The 2-digit score is coverted in a manner which reflects that a score of 75 always is the minimum passing score. A given 2-digit score may represent a different level of performance if the two administrations were subject to different pass/fail standards.

How can medical schools or residency programs interpret my score without a percentile?

  • The 3-digit score is calculated using statistical procedures that ensure that scores from different years are on a common scale and represent the similar meaning. Performance data from previous years are available to prove this.

What are the passing scores for the three Steps?

  • Information on minimum scores required for clearing the exam is posted on the Scores and Transcripts page.

What are the current pass rates for the Steps?

  • For scoring, the content-based standard is used. This means that no passing standards are predetermined. They may vary from year to year and school to school. It also indicates that as many as 100% of candidates could theoretically pass, or conceivably 0%. Recent performance data for first-time takers and repeaters for each Step are available.

What are the group pass rates by medical school for the Steps?

  • For accredited medical schools in the United States and Canada, performance by medical school is reported by NBME only to individual schools and is available only from those schools. The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®) has responsibility for reporting scores for students and graduates of international medical schools.

I just took a computer-delivered Step. When will I get my scores?

  • Scores for Step 1, Step 2 CK and Step 3 are released each Wednesday. The results are generally of those candidates who took the exam around 3 − 4 weeks before. A delay is likely to happen as far as an individual score reporting is concerned. However usually the problems are solved and the score is released in the next week cycle.
  • Your registration entity will send you an email to inform you that your scores are out. You can refer to registration entity's secure website: For Step 1 results and Step 2, either NBME or ECFMG; for Step 3 results to FSMB.
  • If you do not get your results even after 8 weeks of your test, then contact us to determine the status of your score report. Please note that new scores are not released during the week of 4th of July or the week after Christmas.
  • Step 2 CS: Scores for Step 2 CS are released each Wednesday according to the posted score reporting schedule. Step 2 CS examinees are grouped into testing periods according to the dates on which they test. Generally results of most of the candidates who take the exam during the testing period will be reported on the first Wednesday of the Reporting Period. Results for 98%-99% of examinees taking the test at the time of the testing period are given their results by the third Wednesday in a Reporting Period. The remaining candidates results may not be given during the first three reporting dates as they might have taken the exam in the latter part of the testing period. Results for these examinees will be reported each week throughout the reporting period, and should be reported no later than the last day of the score reporting period.

Why does it take three to four weeks to score a computer-delivered examination?

  • We need to check and assure that the processing and scoring of USMLE examinations are done in a secure and accurate fashion. For this we need to foolow a procedure which include steps such as monitoring reports from test centers about test delivery problems and about possible security violations. For this procedure to complete, we require a time period of 3 − 4 weeks.

Can I retake a Step that I passed to raise my score?

  • If you clear the exam, you are not allowed to retake the exam to improve your score unless to comply with the time limit of a medical licensing authority for the completion of all Steps or a requirement imposed by another authority recognized by the USMLE program. See USMLE Bulletin: Eligibility-Retakes.

How can I request a transcript of my USMLE scores?

  • To send your report of scores to a third party, you are required to contact one of the three USMLE registration entities. Which of the three entities you are supposed to contact, will depend upon which Steps you have taken the test of and where you want your transcript sent.
  • To have a transcript sent to a medical licensing authority at any time, submit your request through the FSMB.
  • If you have not registered for or taken Step 3 and you want a transcript sent to a third party other than a medical licensing authority, submit your request through the same entity that registered you for Step 1 and/or Step 2, the ECFMG or the NBME.
  • Once you register for or take Step 3, all requests for USMLE transcripts must be submitted through the FSMB.

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