usmle,plab,amc,mci screening test medical exam guide

By Live Dr - Sun Nov 09, 1:09 pm

How Long Will I Have to Wait Before I Get My Scores?

The USMLE reports scores three to six weeks after the examinee’s test date.

Scores are always released on a Wednesday. During peak times, score reports

may take up to six weeks. Official information concerning the time required

for score reporting is posted on the USMLE Web site.

What About Time?

Time is of special interest on the CBT exam. Here’s a breakdown of the exam


15 minutes Tutorial (skip if familiar)

7 hours 60-minute question blocks

45 minutes Break time (includes time for lunch)

The computer will keep track of how much time has elapsed. However, the

computer will show you only how much time you have remaining in a given

block. Therefore, it is up to you to determine if you are pacing yourself properly

(at a rate of approximately one question per 72 seconds).

The computer will not warn you if you are spending more than your allotted

time for a break. You should therefore budget your time so that you can take

a short break when you need it and have time to eat. You must be especially

careful not to spend too much time in between blocks (you should keep track

of how much time elapses from when you finish a block of questions to when

you start the next block). After you finish one question block, you’ll need to

click the mouse when you are ready to proceed to the next block of questions.

Forty-five minutes is the minimum break time for the day. You can gain extra

break time (but not time for the question blocks) by skipping the tutorial or by

finishing a block ahead of the allotted time.

If I Freak Out and Leave, What Happens to My Score?

Your scheduling permit shows a CIN that you will enter onto your computer

screen to start your exam. Entering the CIN is the same as breaking the seal

on a test book, and you are considered to have started the exam when you do

so. However, no score will be reported if you do not complete the exam. In

fact, if you leave at any time from the start of the test to the last block, no

score will be reported. The fact that you started but did not complete the

exam, however, will appear on your USMLE score transcript.

The exam ends when all blocks have been completed or their time has expired.

As you leave the testing center, you will receive a printed test-completion notice

to document your completion of the exam. To receive an official score, you

must finish the entire exam.

Be careful to watch the clock

on your break time.

Gain extra break time by

skipping the tutorial or

finishing a block early.

What Types of Questions Are Asked?

Although numerous changes had to be made for the CBT format, the question

types are the same as in previous years.

One-best-answer items are the only multiple-choice format. Most questions

consist of a clinical scenario or a direct question followed by a list of five or

more options. You are required to select the one best answer among the options.

There are no “except,” “not,” or matching questions on the exam. A

number of options may be partially correct, in which case you must select the

option that best answers the question or completes the statement. Additionally,

keep in mind that experimental questions may appear on the exam (see

Difficult Questions, p. 23).

How Is the Test Scored?

Each Step 1 examinee receives a score report that has the examinee’s pass/fail

status, two test scores, and a graphic depiction of the examinee’s performance

by discipline and organ system or subject area (see Figures 2A and 2B). The

actual organ system profiles reported may depend on the statistical characteristics

of a given administration of the examination.

For 1999, the NBME provided two overall test scores based on the total number

of items answered correctly on the examination (see Figure 3). The first

score, the three-digit score, was reported as a scaled score in which the mean

was 215 and the standard deviation was 20. The second score scale, the twodigit

score, defines 75 as the minimum passing score (equivalent to a score of

179 on the first scale). A score of 82 is equivalent to a score of 200 on the first

score scale. To avoid confusion, we refer to scores using the three-digit scale

with a mean of 215 and a standard deviation of 20.

A score of 182 or higher is required to pass Step 1. Passing the CBT Step 1 is

estimated to correspond to answering 60–70% of questions correctly. In 2004,

the pass rates for first-time test takers from accredited U.S. and Canadian

medical schools was 89% (see Table 1). These statistics prove it––you’re much

more likely to pass than fail. Although the NBME may adjust the minimum

passing score at any time, no further adjustment is expected for several years.

According to the USMLE, medical schools receive a listing of total scores and

pass/fail results plus group summaries by discipline and organ system. Students

can withhold their scores from their medical school if they wish. Official

USMLE transcripts, which can be sent on request to residency programs,

include only total scores, not performance profiles.

Consult the USMLE Web site or your medical school for the most current

and accurate information regarding the examination.

Nearly three-fourths of Step 1

questions began with a

description of a patient.

The mean Step 1 score for

U.S. medical students rose

from 200 in 1991 to 215 in


Passing the CBT Step 1 is

estimated to correspond to

answering 60–70% of the

questions correctly.


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