What if you have been notified that the Committee on Score Validity found your exam "indeterminate"?
You have four choices when you have learned that your Step Score has been presented to the United States Medical Licensing Examination Committee on Score Validity and it has been found indeterminate. The first choice is to request a rehearing before the Committee. If your undisclosed portion of the test had a passing score, and your percentage of exposed questions is 20% of less, your score should represent a valid measure of your competence and you should not be penalized due to a random question or two showing up on the server of the review course you took. Of course, if you did not even take the Optima course and your scores are being questioned, this will require a totally different strategy. So the first consideration is requesting a rehearing before the Committee - this may be especially effective if you have had a hearing and presented your case to the Committee. You can also always retake the Test. Go to Step Two for the Next recommendation.
Should you appeal to the USMLE Composite Committee if you score was an "Indeterminate Score"?
In the USMLE Policies and Procedures Regarding Indeterminate Scores B (12), the examinee may appeal if there is a reasonable basis to believe that: (1.) the Committee of Score Validity did not act in compliance with applicable USMLE-NBME policies and procedures OR (2.) the decision of the Committee was clearly contrary to the weight of the evidence before the Committee. When you start looking at the grounds for the appeal and you realize that the USMLE Composite Committee only considers the written record - in other words, the examinee and counsel can not appear before the Composite Committee, you recognize the importance of appearing before the Committee on Score Validity and having a TRANSCRIPT made of that proceeding, so that in turn, the TRANSCRIPT of what happened before the Score Validity Committee can then be presented to the Composite Committee. No appearance before the Score Validity means no TRANSCRIPT. The next Step provides what else should be considered to appeal.
Other Considerations to appeal the Committee on Score Valifity decision.
If you have appeared before the USMLE Committee on Score Validity, and have a transcript of the appearance, that along with the WRITTEN RECORD of all information available to the Committee, the records of the USMLE Committee meeting, and the basis of the appeal or what can be called the written appeal, is what will be considered by the Composite Committee. No personal appearance is allowed by the medical student and no appearance by counsel is allowed. This is a point that may be contested later. The next point concerns the standard of review and the time frame for the appeal.
USMLE Standard for Review and Time Frame for Appeal
The medical student or examinee as the term is used by USMLE has Six Months in which to make a determination to appeal the Indeterminate Score. This Six Month Period appears to commence upon notification that the score is indeterminate. The Composite Committee will then decide if the Committee on Score Validity did not act in compliance or the weight of the evidence is clearly contrary to the decision reached. Apparently, if a decision is reached that is favorable to the examinee, the indeterminate score can be ruled valid and the medical student is home free or the decision may be to return the appeal back to the Committee for Score Validity for further consideration. Our final point addresses the uncertainty surrounding the appellate process.
The Uncertainty Surrounding the Appeal or Asking for Reconsideation
If you are a medical student who is being scrutinized by the USMLE-NBME by a letter asking for further information on your Step Scores or you have received notice that you score may be INDETERMINATE, you have entered a world of test review that has it's own rules, regulations, and procedures. It is a legal situation where the normal rules of due process and fair play do not operate. The attorney for the USMLE-NBME is not your attorney and does not have your best interest in mind. The Committee for Score Validity is not set up to be your friend or advocate. If your score is found to be indeterminate, and you do not have a transcript of the proceeding, you are at a grave disadvantage. If your attorney has not appeared before the United States Medical Licensing Examination Secretariat Committee on Score Validity or written an appeal for the Composite Committee of the USMLE, this may be a disadvantage. So in summary, ask for reconsideration, appeal, retake the test, or give up.
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