USMLE Attempt Limit Policy to Change from Six (6) to Four (4) Attempts

Posted March 4th, 2021 by .


The USMLE Program has announced changes in its eligibility rules, reducing the number of permissible failed attempts to four (4) attempts for any USMLE Step examination.  Under the current policy and rule, examinees who failed any Step examination six (6) times became ineligible to again sit for that USMLE examination.  Per USMLE, the change in the attempt limit policy from six (6) to four (4) was made after a review performed by the governing body of USMLE.  As part of the review, the USMLE Composite Committee noted:

“…that it is uncommon for individuals with more than four repeated attempts on USMLE Steps to complete the examination sequence successfully, gain access to postgraduate training and ultimately receive a license to practice medicine in the United States.”

The attempt limit policy change will go into effect “some time in 2021“.  USMLE has not yet specified the specific date, but has advised that the current attempt limit (i.e., six (6) attempts) will remain in effect until that time.  Accordingly, examinees with four (4) or more attempts on any USMLE Step examination should register for and sit for their exam retake as soon as reasonably possible.  Once the  change to the policy becomes effective, examinees who have attempted any USMLE Step exam (including the recently cancelled Step 2 CS) four (4) or more times and have not passed will be ineligible for all USMLE steps.

Should you find yourself in needs of legal advice and counsel regarding USMLE Policies and Procedures, including with respect to eligibility and avoiding or defending allegations of irregular behavior, our experienced attorney stand ready to assist.

For more than 10 years, Dennis L. Abramson has dedicated a significant portion of his practice to counseling and representing medical students, IMGs, residents, fellows, and practicing physicians in compliance and disciplinary matters related to ECFMG, USMLE, NBME, and NRMP, including responding to and defending allegations of irregular behavior and violations of the Match® agreement. Should you need advice or counsel with a related issue, please contact Mr. Abramson at 610-664-5700 or

Mr. Abramson regularly updates this page with the latest developments related to ECFMG, USMLE, NRMP, ABIM, irregular behavior, and physician licensing and credentialing issues, so check back soon.

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