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How will COVID-19 affect USMLE testing?

Activity Forums USMLE Step 1 Forum How will COVID-19 affect USMLE testing?

This topic contains 8 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Dr. David Delnegro MST USMLE Tutor Dr. David Delnegro MST USMLE Tutor 5 months ago.

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  • #282
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    I’ll save recommendations on how to adjust study schedules for another post – or perhaps one of my colleagues will tackle that topic – but I just wanted to summarize here the information we have regarding the impact of COVID-19 on USMLE testing.
    1) Starting March 18th, all Prometric testing centers will be closed for at least 30 days (so re-opening 4/16 at the earliest). Prometric says changes impact testing centers in: USA, China, Italy, Belgium, Poland, Slovakia, Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, Qatar, Kuwait, Canada, France. Follow along with updates here: https://www.prometric.com/corona-virus-update https://www.usmle.org/announcements/?ContentId=267
    2) Step 2 CS testing is postponed from at least 3/16/2020 to 4/12/2020. Hoping to resume operations 4/13, though this seems unlikely.
    3) As of March 13th, USMLE has been waiving fees for eligibility period extensions and testing region changes. Expect this to continue as long as the pandemic continues.
    3) UWorld has extended subscriptions for anyone with a subscription expiring between 3/17 and 4/29 to 4/30 in response to Prometric closure.

    Sorry for all of those test-takers being affected by these changes – I know that this is just stress being piled on stress right now. Please prioritize your mental well-being and take a day or two off from studying to process all that is happening and to connect with loved ones!

    I will keep posting here as I pick up any new information. Others please feel free to do the same!

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    #290
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    A few updates:
    – Federal guidelines encouraging social distancing through at least 4/30 means any CS dates and Prometric closures are likely to be extended until at least that time, but these changes have not happened yet. Some Prometric centers in states where shelter in place orders already extend beyond mid April do have updated closure status. Updated prometric site specific closure dates can be found here: https://www.prometric.com/closures
    – USMLE is automatically extending all unexpired eligibility periods to December 2020
    – USMLE now has a COVID-19 page where info and FAQs are being collected: https://www.usmle.org/frequently-asked-questions/#covid19
    – NBME is making “retired” exams re-available for free with answer explanations, which students may find helpful to use in the setting of unexpectedly prolonged dedicated time. For Step 1, these are NBMEs 13, 15, 16, 17, and 19. They will become available on 4/3: https://www.nbme.org/news/free-nbmer-self-assessments-and-answer-explanations-available-april

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    #291
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    One more bit of news:
    – Prometric updated their overall statement. https://www.prometric.com/corona-virus-update Despite acknowledging that federal social distancing guidelines now extend through 4/30, Prometric says: “As previously announced in March, Prometric made the difficult decision to temporarily close all of its test center locations in the US and Canada through April 15th with an anticipated resumption of testing effective April 16th. At this time, there is no deviation from this planned resumption of operations.” They promise some changes to the operation when it reopens, but the only specifics are that candidates will be allowed to wear masks and gloves.

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    #293
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    USMLE has acknowledged that, if testing suspension is extended beyond April at most Prometric centers in US and Canada, the date of increasing the number of “communications” questions maybe be pushed back from the current plan of May 4 (https://www.usmle.org/announcements/?ContentId=256 , https://www.usmle.org/frequently-asked-questions/#covid19 Item 15)

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    #296
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    – Step 2 CS suspension to continue through May 31st
    – Prometrics to remain closed through May 1; no word yet on pushing changes to Step 1 (increased communication questions) back from May 4th, but seems likely

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    #297
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    USMLE claims testing will resume on May 1
    – Prometric pushed back date of re-openign to May 31 (from May 1) with the following language: “We have determined it is necessary to further extend the closure of test centers in the U.S. and Canada through May 31st. This applies to all testing programs, with the exception of a limited set of essential services programs.” ( https://www.prometric.com/corona-virus-update )
    – USMLE tweeted that they are “essential” and therefore will reopen on May 1 ( https://twitter.com/TheUSMLE/status/1253373119458353152 https://usmle.org/announcements/?ContentId=272 ); more info hopefully to come

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    #299

    Super helpful updates! Nice spot to have it all consolidated, thanks for this!

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    #301
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    Dan S., MST USMLE Tutor
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    – Step 1 content changes (increase in communication questions) pushed back until at least 6/1 ( https://www.usmle.org/announcements/?ContentId=271 )
    – Prometric randomly canceling testing dates, presumably to be able to enforce social distancing within testing centers upon re-opening
    – USMLE has said they are “exploring remote proctoring, delivery at alternate sites (including medical schools), and additional solutions to address testing backlog and capacity restraints”, and that exploration will finish at end of June with scaling of solutions in July
    – In the same announcement, USMLE noted willingness to work with regulators around graduation requirements: “Some solutions may involve temporary changes to policy and/or requirements, e.g., relaxing requirements for promotion, graduation, or licensing decisions.”

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    #306

    To follow up on that last post, the USMLE has indeed move forward with their plans for medical schools to host regional exams. For example, the State of Florida may take their exam at the University of South Florida in Tampa. There’s also plans for a Midwestern, northeastern, and other regional sites.

    This dynamic is ongoing and changing so check the USMLE website for the latest information about regional testing centers.

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