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#### usmleguy

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hi guys!!

since last few months i have noticed in this forum and from what my friends are getting that people getting scores even like 229 are getting the 2 digit equivalent of 99 which by previous year standard would fall in low 90s??
does it have something to do with the decreased number of questions or something else is the cause or has NBME decided to decrease the 3 digit equivalent of 99??
And my another question which score matters the most... 2 digit score or 3 digit score???

#### ashishkabir

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I've heard that the three digit score is what matters. Arguably, if lower scores equal the same 2 digit score, the exam must be getting harder (ie: less easy to get a three digit score). The problem with that theory is that it implies a correlation between your three digit score and how many questions or which questions you got right. Even if that is the case, the exact relationshiop is an NBME secret we dont have access to. I'd be glad to get a clear answer, but I doubt anyone knows...

#### Sabio

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Here's my guess

As ashishkabir pointed out nobody actually knows how the three digit score is actually calculated (read http://www.usmle-forums.com/usmle-articles/720-how-usmle-scores-calculated.html)

However, here's my best guess:

Recently, the exam has become more difficult. Which means people are getting less and less questions correct. Therefore, in order to be fair, the NBME has to lower the three digit score that is equivalent to a two digit of 99.

In other words, students who are getting 229 nowadays are equal to students who were getting 238 few months ago.

Generally speaking the two digit score is more important than the three digits score (that's why it's standardized at all times, it's always 75 pass and 99 best throughout the years).

The three digit score become important when residency programs want to compare two people having 99. Only then the three digit score plays role. In that case, you will be at an unfair disadvantage if you are compared to someone who took the test months ago, because he/she might be having 240 while you are having 229 while in fact both scores should mean the same. However, with time that disadvantage should disappear as in the future most students will be falling the new lower ranges.

#### ashishkabir

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Sabio's comment makes much more sense.. I think the person from whom I heard that the three digit score matters meant exactly that... it matters because it would be used to distinguish someone who gets a 90 today from someone who got a 90 5 years ago. Thanks!

#### shameldiesel

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Thanks for usmleguy for putting this topic
and much thanks to sabio for the meaningful analysis

#### cool_atomic

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this definitely has to do with increasing difficulty of the exam. My exam was like step-2CK.....lengthy questions and mostly clinical (about 70%). If 229 is a 99, it means that lower scores also weigh more than earlier.

#### Haisook

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But I read that USMLE scores are balanced in such a way that a score of 230 five years ago is equivalent to the same score today. I think it's a very just exam. I see no injustice here.

#### cool_atomic

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But I read that USMLE scores are balanced in such a way that a score of 230 five years ago is equivalent to the same score today. I think it's a very just exam. I see no injustice here.
Then why do you think about the new score correlation b/w the 2 and 3 digits?

#### Haisook

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Then why do you think about the new score correlation b/w the 2 and 3 digits?
I don't know, but still it's fair, because programs look at the 3-digit score, not the 2-digit one.

#### tkourkou

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I don't know, but still it's fair, because programs look at the 3-digit score, not the 2-digit one.
Yeah, but the two digit score was actually invented for the program directors! Not the 3 digit score! There is no way that all tests correlate 100% with each other. Like the other Drs here pointed out a 229 is now a 99 whereas it was a 94 back in the old days... Even the score correlations in official NBMEs change. a 570 few years ago was a 235 and now it is a 238.

Sabio

#### hypermedic

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I don't wanna look dumb here but what is the difference between the 2 and 3 digits score?

Sent from my Nexus One using Tapatalk

#### tkourkou

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