Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2021



In February of 2020 the sponsors of the USMLE examinations, which includes the NBME and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) decided to change the scoring system of the USMLE Step 1 from a three-digit numeric score to a Pass/Fail outcome1. The basis of this change was made to “address concerns about Step 1 scores impacting student well-being and medical education”2. Historically, the three-digit numeric score from Step 1 has been one of the top determining factors for admission into residency3. This change will cause a shift in the priority of objective and subjective factors about applicants that residency program directors use to assess medical students. The purpose of this study is to further assess the correlation between core clerkship NBME Shelf exam scores with performance on the USMLE Step 2. Predicting performance on the USMLE Step 2 is of more importance now that the Step 1 scoring system was changed to a Pass/Fail outcome. We expect that the scores on the NBME shelf exams will be correlated to the overall performance on USMLE Step 2, further supporting the conclusions of the previous study by Zahn et al4.


Data containing students’ performance on the USMLE Step 2 and NBME Shelf exams was obtained from Blackboard and One45. In order to protect student confidentiality, data will be de-identified at the point of collection by supervising faculty. From the clerkship assessment score (professionalism, clinical knowledge, shelf exam, etc.) each component will be standardized and converted into a z-score. The NBME Shelf Exams and USMLE Step 2 score will also be converted into a standardized z-score. Standardized USMLE Step 2 T-scores will be substituted in place of NBME Shelf T-scores and final grading computation will analyze the frequency of each grade type (Honors, High Pass, Pass, Fail). Linear regression will be used to determine the correlation between USLME Step 2 scores and performance on the Clerkship Shelf Exams. To assess the effect size of the regression equation, a squared correlation coefficient (R2) will be computed between scores of the USLME Step 2 and NBME Shelf Exams.


Data collection complete after update to IRB research proposal was approved. Data analysis underway with preliminary results expected in early Spring 2021.


Further analysis of the data is required for proper conclusions to be drawn.

Academic Level

medical student

Mentor/PI Department

Medical Education



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.