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June 5, 1991

The Boards: Pass/Fail or a Number?-Reply

Author Affiliations

UCLA School of Medicine

UCLA School of Medicine

JAMA. 1991;265(21):2809. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460210055022

In Reply.—  Dr Berryhill presents an intriguing analysis of the selection process, scholastic excellence, and moral development. He believes that from entry into medical school, all are equal and test scores are therefore meaningless. In theory he is correct; in reality he is naive.A major reason for my support of numerical US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) scores is the appalling belief among some medical students that, once accepted into medical school, "C equals MD." This lazy and cavalier attitude breeds inept, inferior physicians who have studied only the bare minimum in order to pass the medical school curriculum. Numerical USMLE scores would force these "slackers" to either put their noses to the grindstone or face a poor test score and the prospect of a less desirable residency. I emphasize the word prospect because there are multiple residency selection criteria (see below).It is unfortunate that some excellent candidates are