Master USMLE Step 1 Test Taking Skills

August 29, 2022


More than two years ago, the Federation of State Medical Boards and the National Board of Medical Examiners announced policy updates that would change the USMLE Step 1 exam to pass/fail scoring. In addition, the number of attempts that a medical student would have to pass the exam was reduced from six to four. Just a couple more reasons why you need to master USMLE Step 1 test taking skills.

As of January 26, 2022, the initial licensure exam for medical students officially changed to pass/fail. Although the NBME’s goal was to decrease burnout among medical students, others have expressed concerns that reducing stress to improve the well-being of first-year and second-year medical students would likely only delay the stress felt when applying to a residency program.

No doubt receiving a pass or fail on the Step 1 is more straightforward than comparing one’s performance to the graded percentiles previously used for score reports. Nonetheless, the most desirable specialties will continue to be competitive for as long as there are more medical students seeking acceptance than there are available slots.

Fact is, simply changing the Step 1 to pass/fail should not change a student’s focus on becoming a competent physician in any chosen field. Whereas reducing stress levels may have been the intent, the purpose of Step 1 is to assess whether a student understands and can apply the important concepts of the sciences needed to successfully practice medicine.

Accelerate the Review Process with POWER 5

Once you have completed the registration process for the USMLE Step 1 exam, it is the perfect time to explore the testing resources you have available. Here at WOLFPACC, we focus on helping you master USMLE Step 1 test taking skills by teaching you how to navigate the exam through our four-week or eight-week interactive review and NBME testing experience. Programs include some combination of the following content areas:

  • Anatomy
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Interdisciplinary Topics

Our POWER 5 approach focuses on a major system and correlates it to the previous one presented. POWER 5 takes the memorization out of medicine (as well as preparing for your Step 1 exam) by showing you how all organs are connected through physiology.  Our methodology allows you to have total command of the material in every situation presented for general principles and individual organ systems, such as:

  • Hematopoietic/Lymphoreticular
  • Nervous/Special senses
  • Skin/Connective tissue
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Respiratory
  • Cardiovascular
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Renal/Urinary
  • Reproductive
  • Endocrine

POWER 5 places special emphasis on principles and mechanisms of underlying health, disease, and modes of therapy to help you apply, not only the basic sciences that provide a foundation for the safe and competent practice of medicine, but also the scientific principles that are necessary to maintain competence throughout your practice of medicine. WOLFPACC’s revolutionary approach teaches you more than just how to pass the Step 1; it empowers you to achieve exceptional results.

Interpreting the USMLE Score Report

Since the USMLE Step 1 changed to a pass/fail score report, the results a medical student receives will provide a recommended pass or fail outcome and will no longer be interpreted based on historical percentiles. The recommended performance standards for the USMLE Step 1 are currently based on a specified level of proficiency. There will no longer be a predetermined percentage of examinees who pass or fail the examination. Instead, a predetermined minimum performance level will be established for passing the Step 1. As noted in the USMLE Bulletin of Information, score requirements may be reviewed periodically and adjusted at any time to provide better metrics for assessing a student’s performance on the Step 1 examination.

For examinations that contain multiple-choice items, the percentages of correctly answered items required to pass may vary from form-to-form but students taking the exam typically must answer approximately 60 percent of items correctly to achieve a passing score. This is similar to previous scoring standard where a medical student had to achieve a score that was better than the lowest 5% of all test-takers. When your score is available, you will receive an email notification from the organization that registered you for your Step 1. Your score report will remain available on the website of that organization for approximately 365 days from the date of the email notification. You can visit the USMLE website for more details, including how to request a transcript for yourself or for a third party.

Although many medical students would prefer to have a target Step 1 score that would allow them to be considered as a strong applicant for residency programs, we believe it is most likely a waste of time trying to figure out your exact minimum score. Instead, we focus on helping you master USMLE Step 1 test taking skills to be better prepared for all future exams as well as to become a competent practicing physician. Let Dr. Hans Wolf and his experienced staff empower you with the skills to achieve exceptional results on all USMLE medical licensing exams