Three Important USMLE Policy Updates You Need to Know

August 27, 2021


Heads up! If you’re preparing to take the USMLE exam, we’ve got a few important updates you need to be aware of. The US Medical Licensing Examination Composite Committee, the governing body of the USMLE, recently met to determine how the prior discontinuation of Step 2 CS due to the COVID-19 pandemic will impact various USMLE policies.

The USMLE’s Step 2 CS was first suspended in May 2020. At the time the organization intended to conduct a thorough review of the progress of the exam in terms of rapidly evolving medical education, practice and technology landscapes and to utilize findings to create a more effective assessment. In January, however, officials announced a change in plans. Step 2 CS would be permanently discontinued while medical educators and members of state medical boards develop all new ways to access clinical skills. In the meantime…

“The Composite Committee’s role is to ensure that the program fulfills its mission to support medical licensing authorities in the United States by providing them with meaningful information from assessments of physician competencies —including medical knowledge and skills—that are important to the provision of safe and effective patient care,” the organization said in a recent release. “The decisions surrounding these policies reflect that mission.”

Three top decisions include:

  1. Reinstatement of Step 3 requirements: Having originally planned to take 12 to 18 months to bring back a modified Step 2 CS, the organization announced a set of temporary Step 3 eligibility requirements. Now that the initial plan has been nixed, those temporary requirements are no longer necessary. So, it’s back to the criteria established before Step 2 CS became part of the USMLE. These include:
    1. Passing scores on Step 1 and Step 2 CK
    2. And MD degree or DO degree from an LCME- or COCA-accredited US or Canadian medical school or
    3. The equivalent of the MD degree from a medical school outside of the US and Canada that is listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools as meeting Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) as meeting requirements to obtain ECFMG certification
    4. And meeting all other eligibility criteria as listed in the USMLE Bulletin of Information.
  2. Step 2 CS results reporting: As a medical licensing examination agency, the USMLE program has a responsibility to provide transcripts that report to state medical boards a complete exam history for each examinee. Thus, If you’ve taken the Step 2 CS, your results will continue to be reported on your USMLE transcript.
  3. Attempts limited to four: Beginning with applications submitted after July 1, USMLE examinees will be limited to four attempts per Step exam. This is a reduction from the six allowed under the previous policy and the move is aimed at protecting the integrity of the exam and more closely matching the attempt limits imposed by state medical boards for the USMLE in most states.

With attempts now more limited, you’ll want to make sure you ace your USMLE test early on, preferably on the first take. WOLFPACC can help you do just that. Call 904-209-3140 to speak with an enrollment specialist today.

To learn more, check out the USMLE Connection March 4 podcast episode detailing the Step 2 CS discontinuation and featuring David Johnson, the Chief Assessment Officer at the Federation of State Medical Boards, and Chris Feddock, Executive Director for the Clinical Skills Evaluation Collaboration.