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2 digit USMLE scores are going away

August 4, 2011

So the two digit score is going away, sort of.

From ECFMG Reporter issue 169 May 2011: “Starting July 1, 2011, USMLE transcripts reported through the ERAS reporting system will no longer include score results on the two-digit score scale. USMLE results will continue to be reported on the three-digit scale. This affects the Step 1, 2 CK, and 3 examinations only; Step 2 CS will continue to be reported as pass or fail. These changes do not alter the score required to pass or the difficulty of any of the USMLE Step examinations.”

This doesn’t have any effect on the applicant as most programs use the 3 digit scores in their filters anyway.  What it does mean for the IMG community is a frame shift in the thinking of what the scores mean.    What this means is that “99/99” will become a thing of the past.  No more “he is a 99/99 so he must be good.”  A 99 two digit score represented about the top 20% of scores, not the 99th percentile.  True 99th percentile is a three digit score of 260 according to a nice analysis by My Dominant Hemisphere. This was a big point of confusion for a lot of people for a long time.  The only people I ever heard mention the two digit score were IMGs.  And the mention bordered on obsession.  The two-digit scores were designed for the state medical boards and will still be reported to the states and to the test taker but not the residency programs.

On the two-digit scale, the minimum passing score is always a 75 but with the 3 digit score it depends on the distribution.  Minimum Passing three digit Scores for last year were Step 1 188, Step 2 CK 189, Step 3 187. My advice is to think of your scores in the three digit form and compare them to the NRMP data to see in which specialties that you might fit.

The views expressed in this post are those of Kenneth Christopher, MD and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dr. Christopher’s employer Partners HealthCare.

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  1. December 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm
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