From January 1, 2012, there will be a new set of rules outlining the time between attempts for USMLE. The ECFMG Reporter outlines the present rules which shall be applicable for examinees taking the tests before that date:
– For the computer-based examinations (Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3), you may take the examination no more than four times within a 12-month period.
– For Step 2 CS, you may take the examination no more than three times within a 12-month period.
But for all attempts after January 1, 2012, there is an entirely new set of rules. Once again, quoting from the ECFMG Reporter:
You may take the same examination no more than three times within a 12-month period. Your fourth and subsequent attempts must be at least 12 months after your first attempt at that exam and at least six months after your most recent attempt at that exam. Attempts at that examination (complete and incomplete) prior to January 1, 2012 will be counted in determining whether these rules apply.
The reporter cites an example as well, which took me three reads to get a hang of. I am sorry, I understand stuff easier when I get a visuo-spatial reconstruction of the same! I mean, its very confusing with all the dates and stuff. So, I used their example to construct a flow chart. Here you go:
So while I totally think this is not going to affect anyone’s chances (come on, if you are repeating step 1 four times, the chances of getting through any interviews and land a residency are pretty slim, right?), it still is interesting because this may significantly alter the time schedules for those who decide to repeat the test.
Meanwhile, here’s hoping that you DO NOT have to think about this and ace the exams on the first go itself!