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National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Advisory Committee

Summer 2013

The NBME Advisory Committee met on July 24, 2013 in Philadelphia. The agenda included updates of USMLE, test development and test delivery issues, subject exams, self-assessment exams, and new products and services.


A number of topics were discussed regarding USMLE exams:

Each USMLE exam’s minimum passing score undergoes re-evaluation by a committee every 3-4 years. Recently, the STEP 2 CK minimum passing score was increased from 196 to 203 in 7/1/13.

STEP 3 Changes:
A number of changes will be introduced in the exam, including the addition of foundational science questions and quantitative skills questions (e.g. biostatistics, reading abstracts). The exam will likely have more flexibility regarding scheduling. Currently, the exam has to be taken on 2 consecutive days. In the future, examinees will be able to schedule the test on 2 separate days within a window of several weeks. These changes will likely be implemented in November 2014. Sample questions can be viewed on the USMLE website.

2 digit scores:
This is the 2nd year the 2 digit score will be eliminated from use through ERAS. Examinees and administrators should refer to the 3 digit score.

Test Development Regarding DSM-V

The USMLE is addressing the recent release of the DSM-V. They are currently eliminating psychiatry questions that may have conflicting answers under DSM-IV vs DSM-V from USMLE and psychiatry subject exams. An announcement will be posted soon on the USMLE and NBME website, and will be sent to medical school administrators.

Subject (Shelf) Exams

There is currently a new advanced exam in Emergency Medicine. The NBME estimates that 20% of medical schools do not distribute score reports to students. The NBME is planning to create an easier system for score report distribution that allows school to determine when score release will occur. Stay tuned for further development in 2014.

Self-Assessment Tests

The NBME has developed a new Clinical Science Mastery series that is a self-assessment test for subject exams (shelf exam). Currently, they are available for neurology, medicine, Ob/Gyn, pediatrics, psychiatry and surgery.


Pivio, formerly known as the e-Folio project, is a joint venture between the AAMC and NBME. It is an online portfolio system that will allow participants to keep track of their information. In January 2014, Pivio will launch. Participants will be able to enter exam scores (e.g. MCAT, USMLE, ACGME case logs), have access to CV/resume/biosketch templates, directly transfer information to ERAS, and export information. Future plans include competency tracking, reflection tools, bench marking tools and integrating with other AAMC/NBME services as well as Evalue and New Innovations. Pivio will cost $100/year for students and $120/year for residents for those who choose to purchase the service. Costs will be lower for institutions when purchased in bulk.

Focus Groups

The NBME is also interested in outreaching to medical students to obtain feedback. They are looking to recruit medical students for 2 focus groups, centering on feedback students find useful. The focus groups will be conducted on 11/1/13 during the AAMC Annual meeting. Please see your OSR email from 9/16/13 for details.

Please feel free to contact me regarding any issues you would like discussed at future meetings or for further information about this committee.

Cathy Sun, MS3
OSR Liaison to NBME
University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, MS4