USMLE Examination Requirements

Overview

Medical students at the WSUSOM are required to:

  • Pass USMLE Step 1 after completion of Year 2 coursework and prior to promotion to Year 3
  • Pass USMLE Step 2CK prior to being granted the MD degree
  • Pass USMLE Step 2CS prior to being granted the MD degree

School of Medicine deadlines supersede the end dates of a student’s USMLE eligibility period, which may extend past the School’s deadline. The fact that the School certifies your eligibility to take the exam does not imply an extension to a deadline.

 

National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Guidelines

The National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) sets the passing scores required for each of the USMLE examinations and can change at any time. In addition, the timing, frequency, and location of all USMLE examinations is determined the NBME. Students are responsible for knowing all NBME regulations for taking Step examinations. For example, the NBME states that it may take up to 6 weeks from the time of the examination until a score is posted. Students should plan according to the published reporting schedule when facing School of Medicine deadlines. For Step 1 also note that there is always a delay in reporting scores for examinations taken from the middle of May through the end of June.

The NBME has established limits on the number of examinations per year, the time between examinations, and the total time to complete all steps of the licensing examinations. Refer to the NBME website for their current polices: www.usmle.org/bulletin

 

USMLE Step 1

Deadline for Taking the Examination

Students are required to take USMLE Step 1 at the end of Year 2 and a passing score is required prior to promotion to Year 3. The deadline for taking Step 1 is prior to the start of the Year 3 Orientation. The deadline remains in effect even where a student is due to go out on any type of leave of absence, rather than continuing directly to Year 3. Students using July as a vacation month rather than as an elective must still meet this deadline.

Starting in the academic year 2016-2017, all students will be registered for a Step 1 Preparation course. This self-directed learning course is a one credit hour satisfactory/unsatisfactory course that will help provide students with additional structure and medical school resources while preparing for the exam. This course will be administered through the Office of Learning and Teaching.

Students identified by the school as being at risk for a low (perhaps failing) USMLE Step 1 score will be given two-months of extended preparation time (July and August) and will be enrolled in a Summer Step 1 Preparation Program for 2 credit hours. Students in the summer program have the option of extending their preparation if they find they are not prepared to take Step 1 and start clerkships in September. Students extending the summer program will pay 1 credit hour per month, until they sit for the exam. The Summer Step Preparation program enrollment ends in December of the year that Year 2 course work was completed. Students not having sat for Step 1 by December will be put on an Administrative Leave of Absence starting the first week of January.

Other students that feel they need additional preparation time may be given the option of taking an approved two-month personal leave of absence. A student needs permission from the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education or his/her designee to extend the Step 1 deadline beyond the end of June, and permission from the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs for a leave of absence. Students extending their personal leave of absence beyond the September date will be required to take an administrative leave of absence and will not be able to start Year 3 unit July of the next academic year

A student eligible to take Step 1, but who delays taking the examination without prior approval, may be subject to any of the following:

  • Cancellation of their registration
  • Adjustment of their schedule
  • Be placed on an administrative leave of absence
  • Be required to post a passing score before being allowed to begin Year 3 course work

Provisional Year 3 Registration Status

Students are enrolled in a Step 1 preparation course that begins after the last WSUSOM examination for Year 2 and ends before the start of Year 3 Orientation. Students are provisionally registered as full-time Year 3 students before the results of the examination are known. Registration eligibility may require proof that the student took the examination. In some situations, a student may be required to pass USMLE Step 1 prior to beginning Year 3 coursework.

Students who pass the examination officially become Year 3 students. Students who fail Step 1 become half-time Year 2 students and are given the status of Special Matriculation until they post a passing score.

 

Deadline for Posting a Passing Score for USMLE Step 1

Students are given one year in which to report a passing score on Step 1, or are academically dismissed from medical school. The one-year Step 1 “clock” begins on June 30, after the end of Year 2, and extends to July 1 of the following calendar year. An Incomplete grade for any Year 2 course does not delay the start of the Step 1 “clock”.

In addition, the Step 1 clock begins regardless of whether a student has been granted additional preparation time for Step 1 or has been placed on a leave of absence. Leaves of absences neither delay the start of the “clock” nor suspend the “clock.” Students going on educational leaves of absence prior to Year 3 must take and pass Step 1 as a precondition of the educational leave of absence.

Note this is a “report a passing score” deadline and not a “take by” deadline. Due to the normal reporting schedule, students will need to take the exam no later than the middle of May to have a score reported before the July 1 deadline. Students who have not passed Step 1 within the one year deadline are administratively dismissed. Only the Vice Dean for Medical Education or his/her designee can grant extensions to this one-year deadline.

 

Extended Preparation for USMLE Step 1

The WSUSOM identifies groups of students who would benefit from additional preparation for USMLE Step 1 beyond what is typically required. Students who fail a Year 2 course during the academic year in which they take the examination are considered to be at risk for a low USMLE Step 1 score (including the possibility of failure). The School also identifies additional “at risk” students who would benefit from additional preparation time. Both types of “at risk” students are enrolled in a Step 1 Summer Preparation Program (July and August). For students given two months of additional preparation time, the first clerkship would begin during the September rotation (which typically begins the last week of August). Students that are not ready to take the exam can remain in the summer program at one credit hour per month until December 31 or until they pass Step 1, whichever comes first. Enrollment in the summer program allows a student access to academic and administrative resources to assist in the successful completion of Step 1.

If a student has not passed Step 1 by December 31 then they are placed on an Administrative Leave of Absence until they pass the exam. Students should contact Financial Aid regarding any change to their financial aid status. Students who continue to delay beyond six months are not guaranteed their previous Year 3 schedule. Additionally, students who do not take Step 1 by November 15 will be required to pass the exam (not just take the exam) in order to start the Year 3 curriculum.

Students granted extended preparation time must register for Year 3 at the regular registration time, prior to the beginning of Year 3, in order to be eligible for the extended preparation time. Failure to register prior to the start of Year 3 Orientation may result in any or all of the following: 1) deletion from directed study; 2) deletion of the entire Year 3 schedule; and/or being placed on an administrative leave of absence.

A written plan of study must be approved by the Assistant Dean for Pre-Clerkship Education in collaboration with the Office of Learning and Teaching, and will include the frequency of meetings with the student. For students are either recommended or required to delay taking Step 1, NBME vouchers are provided to help them to monitor their progress. Each student granted extended preparation time must attend Year 3 Orientation.

Prior to beginning the first clerkship of the student’s remaining original schedule, each student is required to present proof that he/she took the examination no later than the 1st of the month and before an expected return (e.g., taking the exam by August 1 could allow for a “September” return that actually begins the end of August). A certificate is provided at the testing center upon completion of the examination. Only students that are registered for the Step 1 Summer Preparation course are allowed to start Year 3 after the September entry point. These students are required to present proof of taking the exam by December 1. After December 1 the student’s remaining January to June schedule will be deleted and he/she will be put on an administrative leave of absence. The next available return to Year 3 would be the next academic year (end of June), assuming that a Step 1 passing score is received by June 1.

Students granted extended preparation time participate in the same Year 3 scheduling process as other students. The only difference is that their July/August clerkships will be moved to the following academic year. The expected date of graduation will remain the same, assuming that Step 1 is passed on the first attempt and they are able to begin a first clerkship no later than October.

Students, who have already scheduled a June test date when they accept entrance into the Step 1 Summer Preparation Program will need to reschedule their test date to August.

 

Students Requesting Additional Preparation Time Beyond the End of June

If a student not participating in the Step 1 Summer Preparation program requests extended time, he/she must meet with their counselor. If the counselor and student agree that additional time is needed, a student may be granted additional preparation time prior to taking USMLE Step 1 and request a personal leave of absence. The formal request for additional time should be made to the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. The length of the leave of absence is two months which will allow the student to start Year 3 in September. Students will be directed to meet with the Office of Learning and Teaching for academic support and guidance. Students not participating in the Step 1 Summer Preparation course and request to extend their personal leave of absence beyond September will be required to take an administrative leave of absence and cannot start Year 3 until July of the next academic year. Students registered for the Step 1 Summer Preparation course can request an additional delay beyond September, but must sit for the exam by December 1 in order to start Year 3 in January. After December 1, students must wait until July of the next academic year to start Year 3.

 

Special Matriculation for Students Failing USMLE Step 1

Registration and Enrollment. Passage of USMLE Step 1 is required before students officially progress to Year 3 status, and all students begin Year 3 coursework with the presumption that they will pass USMLE Step 1. They are provisionally registered as Year 3 students.

Students who are remediating USMLE Step 1 failure must meet with their counselor to determine next steps. Students have a choice between being enrolled in a “Special Matriculation” course or taking an Administrative Leave until they successfully passed Step 1. If they choose “Special Matriculation, they will be enrolled as a part-time Year 2 student in a Step 1 directed study course at one credit hour per month until December 31 or until they pass Step 1, whichever comes first. Enrollment in the “Special Matriculation” course allows a student access to academic and administrative resources to assist in the successful completion of Step 1. If a student has not passed Step 1 by December 31 they are placed on an Administrative Leave of Absence until they pass the exam. If a student enrolls in Special Matriculation, they are assessed tuition and fees for this course. Students should contact Financial Aid regarding any change to their financial aid status. Students may not resume Year 3 course work nor can they participate in the Year 3 lottery until they have a passing score on USMLE Step 1. Students are also required to meet with the Office of Learning and Teaching to discuss their plan of study including study techniques, time management, test taking strategies and study skills. NBME vouchers are provided as well as access to additional resources.

Coursework and Credit. While on Special Matriculation, students cannot begin any additional Year 3 coursework (including the Continuity Clinic Clerkship) until a passing score is recorded.

Students who have started a clerkship or elective at the time a failing score is posted will be removed from the clerkship/elective, and do not have the option of completing the clerkship. There are no exceptions to this policy.

Returning to Year 3. Students registered for the Step 1 Summer Preparation course can request an additional delay beyond September, but must sit for the exam by December 1 in order to start Year 3 in January. After December 1, students must wait until July of the next academic year to start Year 3. Those students not registered for the course must take the exam prior to the start of the September rotation. Those students not registered for the course and request to delay their Step 1 exam beyond September will be put on an administrative leave of absence and cannot start Year 3 until July of the next academic year. Students are not guaranteed their original Year 3 schedule or clinical campus.

Prohibition from Participation in School Activities. To ensure success on USMLE Step 1 re-examinations, students who have failed Step I re-examinations, students who have failed Step 1 are not permitted to participate in the Student Senate, serve as class officers, sit on medical school committees, hold leadership roles in student organizations, or participate in extra- curricular international travel projects or programs until they post a passing score. At the discretion of the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, students may be prohibited from participation in other activities not specified here.

 

USMLE Step 2

Starting July 1, 2016, all students will be registered for the Step 2 Preparation course. This self-directed learning course is a one-hour credit hour satisfactory/unsatisfactory course that will help provide students with additional structure and medical school resources while preparing for the exam. This course will be administered through the Office of Learning and Teaching.

USMLE Step 2CK (Clinical Knowledge)

All senior students must take Step 2CK by the end of December in the academic year they expect to graduate, and post a passing score by May 1. Students who have not taken the exam by the end of December will be contacted by the Assistant Dean for Clinical Education to discuss noncompliance. Students without a passing score by May 1 will be removed from the list of students participating in graduation. If a student has obtained a residency position, the student must contact the program and notify them of their delay in starting their residency program on July 1.

Students must post a passing score by the date the medical degree is conferred or will be placed on administrative leave. The deadline for students posting a passing score is May 1 of the academic year following the academic year in which the first attempt was made or they will be dismissed. The clock/deadline for a student begins once they begin Year 4 coursework. Students who then choose to decelerate Year 4 coursework do not change the final deadline for passing the Step 2 exams if either Step 2CK or Step 2CS has been taken.

USMLE Step 2CS (Clinical Skills)

All senior students must take Step 2CS no later than the end of October, and post a passing score by May 1. Students who have not taken the exam by the end of October will be contacted by the Assistant Dean for Clinical Science to discuss noncompliance. Students without a passing score by May 1 will be removed from the list of students participating in graduation. If a student has obtained a residency position, they must contact the program and notify them of their delay in starting their residency program on July 1.

Students must post a passing score by the date the medical degree is conferred or they will be placed on administrative leave. The deadline for students posting a passing score is May 1 of the academic year following the academic year in which the first attempt was made or they will be dismissed. The clock/deadline for a student begins once they begin Year 4 coursework. Students who then choose to decelerate Year 4 coursework do not change the final deadline for passing the Step 2 exams if either Step 2CK or Step 2CS has been taken.

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