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USMLE Part 1 CBT field trials

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by John Powell, Feb 20, 1999.

  1. John Powell

    John Powell New Member

    Feb 19, 1999
    Likes Received:
    I have an issue regarding the new computer based testing of the USMLE Part 1 exam that I would like to share with everyone.

    USMLE recently held what they called a 'field trial' in which a random sample of both US and international students who are registered to take Part 1 this summer were sent invitations to sit for a full length 350 question test at the Sylvan Test Centers. I believe this test involved several thousand students. These individuals who participated will receive a estimated part 1 score report which includes a review of their strengths and weaknesses on this exam in approximately 8 weeks. The purpose of this field trial was for the USMLE to test out all of their infrastructure involved in the test administration - from sending out the letters, to phone scheduling, to test admin., to scoring, to sending out the reports, etc.

    I feel that this 'field trial' compromised the integrity and impartiality of the exam by giving these students who participated an unfair advantage. As we all know, the Part 1 scores are used by residency programs all across the country to rank potential candidates. Performance of this exam is career-determining, and giving some students, even a randomly selected group, an advantage is inappropriate and legally questionable in a professional licensing exam.

    I feel that the USMLE acted inappropriately in their actions during the field trials. I feel that the only way that the USMLE can remedy the advantage that the selected students received is to give all students who are registered to take part 1 this summer a similar opportunity to take a full length exam and receive an estimated score report.

    Comments????? Please include in your response whether you took the exam or not.

    John Powell
    Albany Medical College
    Albany, NY
    Class of 2001
    email: [email protected]

    P.S. (I did not take this field trial exam.)

  2. OldManDave

    OldManDave Fossil Bouncer Emeritus
    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Feb 26, 1999
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    Attending Physician
    First, I have a question about the 'field trial.' For the students who took the CBT version, did this testing count in place of the paper version; or were they required to take both?

    If the CBT was offered in lieu of the paper exam, then there was no advantage. In fact, if anything, it may have proved dis-advantageous [strenuous testing with novel technology] .

    On the other hand, if these people indeed took CBT prior to sitting the paper exam...they may very well have derived some advantage. Whether or not this perceived advantage is significant can not be known until after the scores of both groups are analyzed.

    I think the prudent approach would be to wait and see if there even is a problem before I went tooting my horn. The risk is, were there no unfair advantage, you may come off looking rather abrupt. This could place you at a disadvantage in spite of your own USMLE1 performance...

    Food for thought,

    'Old Man Dave'

    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  3. StillBorn

    StillBorn Member
    10+ Year Member

    Nov 23, 1998
    Likes Received:
    It is my understanding (and this can be confirmed by a visit to www.usmle.org) that paper and pencil tests will no longer be administered as of this year. In other words, CBT is it from now on.

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