Educational systems use combinations of grades and standardized examinations to assess knowledge for advancement, remediation, and application to higher tiers of education and employment. The US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 examination, which is designed to assess medical applications of scientific foundations, is widely used in conjunction with other metrics to screen hundreds of applicants to residency programs. Despite this, the National Board of Medical Examiners1 has recently declared that Step 1 numerical performance will be replaced by a simple pass/fail status. The announcement, which was supported by the Association of American Medical Colleges, stated that pass/fail reporting will reduce “overemphasis on USMLE performance”1 and improve the “overall experience of medical students.”1 The USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge and Step 3 examinations will continue to be reported with numerical scores, as will the parallel Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examinations.
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Walsh DS. USMLE Step 1 Scoring System Change to Pass/Fail—Perspective of a Program Director. JAMA Surg. Published online September 02, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2020.2847
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