USMLE attempt cutoff changes from 6 to 4 for Step exams

The USMLE announced attempt cutoff changes. They will reduce the total number of attempts an examinee may take, per Step or Step Component, from 6 to 4. This change will take place no earlier than July 1, 2021. Read on for more details about the Step exams and to learn the reason for this change.

2020 Step Exam Data for IMGs

The USMLE Step 1, Step 2CK, and Step 3 exams are all crucial parts of any residency journey. After spending months preparing, it’s only natural that medical students and others hoping to apply for US Residency strive to pass on the first attempt. While this is exactly the case for 87% – 90% of IMGs, the 10% – 13% who do not pass on the first attempt have to stay their course, adjust study methods, and sit for a second attempt. Even though this isn’t the most desirable scenario, having multiple attempts on a Step exam certainly isn’t the end of the world. You can read more about that in our blog The Truth About USMLE Exam Attempts.

 Step 1 Data                                     Step 2CK Data

Attempt Cutoff ChangesAttempt Cutoff Changes

  Step 3 Data

Attempt Cutoff Changes

Attempt Cutoff Changes

(USMLE Data Source)

What is the reason for the USMLE attempt cutoff changes?

As per the USMLE, the reason for this change is to “protect the integrity of the exam.  Additionally, “it is uncommon for individuals with multiple repeated attempts on USMLE examination Steps or Components to complete the examination sequence successfully, gain access to postgraduate training and, ultimately, receive a license to practice medicine in the United States.” (USMLE Source)

If you have multiple attempts on one or more Step exams, it’s especially important that every other area of your application shines and makes a positive impression on Program Directors. For professional assistance in editing your MyERAS application, Personal Statement(s), and Letters of Recommendation, consider visiting Residency Experts!

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