USMLE STEP 1 Examination Policy

*This policy has been adjusted for students due to the COVID-19 pandemic. See academic year for more information or contact the Curriculum Office.*

Policy Statement
All students must pass the USMLE Step 1 to graduate from the Medical Doctorate (MD) program.

DISCLAIMER TO USMLE STEP 1 POLICY FOR E18 and prior years for 2020-2021 academic year ONLY. The timeline and procedures in this policy may be adjusted for individual students for the 2020-21 academic year for students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy statement and successful remediation of any required Foundation Phase coursework prior to taking USMLE Step 1 described in the document remain in effect for the 2020-2021 academic year.

E18 Requirements, Procedures and Guidelines

Timeline and requirements to take Step 1:

  • Students will take the UWSOM proctored National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) customized assessment at the end of term 2 and the NBME comprehensive basic science examination (CBSE) at the end of term 3.
  • The deadline to take USMLE Step 1 is March 15.
  • Remediation of any Foundations Phase required coursework must be successfully completed prior to taking USMLE Step 1.
  • Students must take Step 1 prior to the Patient Care Phase start date for their entry year unless they have a mandated delay or an approved deferral (see below).
  • Students who are unable to take Step 1 on the School of Medicine timeline must take Step 1 within one year of completing the Foundations Phase. Students who fail to take and pass USMLE Step 1 within one year of completing the Foundations Phase will be referred to the Student Progress Committee (SPC).

Mandated delay of Step 1 test date (Delayed start of Patient Care Phase)
The performance of all students in the Foundations Phase will be evaluated by the ad hoc foundations phase mastery committee* during term 3. All factors (overall performance in the blocks, threads, and courses, trajectory during the foundations phase, the score on the NBME Comprehensive Basic Science Exam, and extenuating circumstances) will be weighed. Students identified by UWSOM as not demonstrating adequate mastery of the basic science curriculum will be required to delay sitting for Step 1. This will result in a delayed entry into the Patient Care Phase.

[Note: For E17 and E18 students, the delay will not be mandated but will be encouraged for appropriate students.] The requirement to delay the Patient Care Phase will be determined in the third term of the Foundations Phase (before clerkship schedules are completed).

Students identified by UWSOM as not demonstrating adequate mastery of the basic science curriculum will:

  • Delay scheduling their Step 1 test date until spring quarter;
  • Enroll in a UWSOM 8 credit Comprehensive Basic Science Review course to be administered during winter term;
  • Complete self-administered Step 1 practice tests (CBSSA) to assess progress during the dedicated Step 1 study period;
  • Complete a final CBSSA exam at the end of the delay period (by the end of spring quarter). Students whose final CBSSA score is predictive of a passing USMLE Step 1 score will be required to sit for the USMLE Step 1 exam in spring quarter.

Students whose final proctored CBSSA score at the end of the CBSR course (end of spring quarter) is not predictive of a passing USMLE Step 1 score will be placed on leave and will participate in required additional programming. Students will be required to meet with the Student Affairs Dean to formalize a leave of absence and will be dropped from summer quarter Patient Care Phase clerkships. A passing score on Step 1 will be required to re-enter the curriculum and enroll in the Patient Care Phase.

Students who have not taken Step 1 within one year of the completion of the Foundations Phase (end of term 3) will be referred to Student Progress Committee.

USMLE Step 1 Deferral Policy
USMLE Step 1 deferrals will be considered only for extenuating circumstances (personal and health reasons). Students must not plan travel, especially international travel until Step 1 is taken. Students requesting a deferral must meet with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs.

Students who fail to take USMLE Step 1 by the end of spring quarter after the Foundations Phase will be placed on leave of absence and will not receive a Patient Care Phase schedule until they obtain a passing score on the USMLE Step 1 examination. Delaying USMLE Step 1 past March 15 may result in medical school expansion. Students who fail to pass USMLE Step 1 within one year of the approved deferral will be referred to the Student Progress Committee.

*The ad hoc foundations phase mastery committee will be comprised of learning specialists, foundations deans, and members from student affairs, curriculum, and registrar.

DISCLAIMER TO USMLE STEP 1 POLICY FOR E19 and subsequent classes for 2020-2021 academic year ONLY. The timeline and procedures in this policy may be adjusted for individual students for the 2020-21 academic year for students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students must successfully remediate any required Foundation Phase coursework prior to entering the Patient Care Phase. The requirement that students taking Consolidation & Transition in 2021 must take Step 1 prior to entering the 2021-2022 Patient Care phase is waived. Students must take Step 1 prior to entering the Explore & Focus Phase. Students are required to meet with a dean to consider the pros and cons of exercising this option prior to making a decision to defer Step 1 after completion of the clinical phase.

E19 Requirements, Procedures and Guidelines

Timeline and requirements to take Step 1

  • Students must take the UWSOM proctored National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) customized assessment near the end of Term 2 and the NBME Comprehensive Basic Science Examination (CBSE) during Term 3.
  • The deadline to take USMLE Step 1 is March 15th.
  • An early action Step 1 delay or formal request for deferral is required to move the USMLE Step 1 deadline after March 15th.
  • Remediation of any Foundations Phase required coursework must be successfully completed prior to taking USMLE Step 1.
  • Students must take Step 1 prior to the Patient Care Phase start date for their entry year unless they have an early action delay or approved deferral (see below).

Early action delay of Step 1 test date deadline (Delayed start of Patient Care Phase)
The performance of all students in the Foundations Phase will be evaluated by the ad hoc foundations phase mastery committee* during Term 3.  Overall performance in the blocks, threads, and courses; trajectory during the foundations phase; and extenuating circumstances will be weighed.  Scores on the NBME Comprehensive Basic Science Exam will be used as confirmatory. Students not demonstrating adequate mastery of the basic science curriculum will be recommended to delay sitting for Step 1.  This will result in delayed entry into the Patient Care Phase.

Delayed students will:

  • Enroll in a UWSOM 8 credit Comprehensive Basic Science Review course to be taken during winter term;
  • Complete self-administered Step 1 practice tests (CBSSA) to assess progress during the dedicated Step 1 study period in spring quarter;
  • Complete a final CBSSA exam at the end of the delay period (end of spring quarter).
  • Sit for the USMLE Step 1 exam by the end of spring quarter (in June) if the final CBSSA exam results are predictive of a passing score.

Students with final CBSSA scores not predictive of a passing USMLE Step 1 score will be placed on leave for summer quarter, and/or will participate in additional programming during summer quarter such as enrolling in an independent study course for additional dedicated study time. Students will be required to meet with the Student Affairs Dean to formalize a leave of absence or approval for additional programming, undergo expansion of their medical curriculum, and be dropped from their entire Patient Care Phase clerkships schedule. Taking Step 1 will be required to re-enter the curriculum and enroll in the Patient Care Phase.

Students who do not Step 1 by the last day of autumn quarter (mid-December each year) will be referred to Student Progress Committee for review.

USMLE Step 1 Deferral
Student deferrals to take Step 1 beyond the March 15 deadline will be considered only for extenuating circumstances.  Students requesting a deferral must meet with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs.  Students who are granted a deferral and fail to take USMLE Step 1 by the approved deadline will have their entire Patient Care Phase schedule dropped until they have taken the USMLE Step 1 exam. Delaying Step 1 will likely result in medical school expansion. Students who fail to pass USMLE Step 1 by the last day of autumn quarter following their Step 1 deadline (mid-December) will be referred to Student Progress Committee for review.

*The ad hoc foundations phase mastery committee will be comprised of learning specialists, foundations deans, and members from student affairs, curriculum, and registrar.

 

Effective: Current
Last updated: August 24, 2020
Policy Contact: UW School of Medicine, Curriculum Office, somgov@uw.edu; Education Quality Improvement Office, eqi@uw.edu