The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a three-part qualifying exam to test the basic medical science, clinical skills and knowledge of medical students and graduates. Registering for and taking any one of these exams is rigidly controlled by strict guidelines imposed and enforced by the USMLE organization. Once you sit for an exam, you will receive a score on your transcripts. While the USMLE board can revoke test scores, and they do provide avenues to challenge scores, the likelihood of ever removing a failing score from your transcript is “extremely remote.” But, it doesn’t hurt to try.

Verify your test scores with USMLE. Transcription and human errors do happen in this world, and you should double-check your e-mail notification scores by contacting USMLE directly. Speak to a customer service representative who can help verify the test scores they have recorded.

Request a recheck of your scores from USLME. Score rechecks mean USMLE will retrieve your original test responses and then check them against an answer key. Rechecked scores are then compared against your original scores to assess if a different grade should be issued. Ask for rechecks of computerized tests and for clinical skills assessments.

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Review your online eligibility status for the date you took the USMLE exam. Confirm you were even eligible to take the exam at the time you took it. USMLE has strict requirements for registering to take a test, however, your eligibility could actually change by the time the testing date rolls around. For instance, a foreign medical school could lose accreditation between the time you register and the time you take your test. Challenge a failing grade by sighting ‘USMLE Eligibility Change in Status’ rules to have your score revoked.

Request a removal of a failing USMLE grade from your transcripts. Petition the USMLE board to review your situation and to remove your failing scores from your transcript. Submit a written statement that explains any extraordinary circumstances you feel should warrant a dismissal of your grades. Supply as much information as possible to give a full description of your situation.

Tips

  • The USMLE Steps 1, 2, 3 and Clinical Knowledge tests are reported as numerical values, while the Step 2 Clinical Skills examination is reported only as a pass or fail.
  • Remember tests can be re-taken. A failing grade doesn’t necessarily reflect your lack of knowledge or skill. It can indicate you were nervous, not up to the task, or had difficulty with the testing format.
  • Only you can authorize the transmission of your scores to your medical school or medical board. Retake exams and report your scores when you do get a passing grade.

About the Author

Erin Moseley is an advocate for science education. Since 1985, she has written numerous technical, user and training manuals for major corporations, public agencies and universities. She holds a Bachelor of Science in geology.