NBME Step 1 CBSE & CBSSA Score Report Changes

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • Last week, the NBME released a statement shining some new light on how the USMLE Step 1 pass/fail change is rolling out. In particular, they spoke to the Comprehensive Basic Science Exam (CBSE) and Comprehensive Basic Science Self Assessment (CBSSA) are transitioning to pass/fail reporting.

    Dr. Stephens breaks down the coming changes, reviews how the CBSEs and CBSSAs will help you assess your probability of passing the USMLE Step 1, how your performance insights will be shared, and more.


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    What’s Changing on the CBSEs and CBSSAs:

    We’ve included the official update below for reference, and to save you time, here’s the Cliff Notes version: Come mid to late February 2022, CBSEs and CBSSAs will no longer report a three-digit score. Instead, they will report the overall percentage correct as well as provide an estimated probability of passing the USMLE Step 1. With this change, they will continue to give breakdown of performance by content area as they have on the numerical score reports.

    How This Impacts Your USMLE Step 1 Studies:

    While we await formal word from the NBME regarding whether the passing benchmark for the USMLE Step 1 (which currently is designated with the passing score of 194) is going to be raised, the good news is that the core piece of these assessments is still in tact.

    Whether you’re studying on your own or working with a tutor, you will still be able to look at your performance breakdown by content area to get a clearer understanding of where your strengths and weaknesses lie. With that knowledge, you can study smarter not harder, and tailor your continued efforts to the areas that need refinement the most.

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    Read the Official Update:

    Upcoming Score Report Changes for the Comprehensive Basic Science Examination and Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment

    As the USMLE® Step 1 exam will transition from a numeric score and pass/fail outcome to pass/fail only for exams taken on or after January 26, 2022, NBME will update how we report scores for the Comprehensive Basic Science Exam (CBSE) and the Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment (CBSSA). Ongoing market research has demonstrated that students and faculty value numeric scores on CBSE and CBSSA score reports, and NBME will continue to provide this information.
    The numeric score for both assessments will be reported as an equated percent correct score that will enable educators and examinees to assess how much of the exam content has been mastered, instead of a 3-digit score that corresponds to the numeric Step 1 score scale.
    The revised CBSE and CBSSA examinee score reports will also provide an estimated probability of passing the USMLE Step 1 exam. (This estimated probability assumes the student takes their USMLE Step 1 exam within a week of taking their CBSE or CBSSA.)
    Information will be provided for examinees to compare their score to a score range that represents low passing performance on Step 1, so they can continue to evaluate their readiness. The score reports will continue to allow examinees to compare their scores against the performance of a national cohort of students.
    In addition, the revised CBSE and CBSSA score reports will be enhanced to provide more detailed information about examinees’ content area performance.
    Continued information about upcoming changes and enhancements to CBSE and CBSSA score reports will be provided over the coming weeks. Our current release dates are targeted for mid-late February 2022, and we will provide more specifics as we can.