Purpose: The United States Medical Licensing Examination series Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examination is a high-stakes performance assessment that uses standardized patients (SPs) to assess the clinical skills of physicians. Each Step 2 CS examination form involves 12 SPs, each of whom portrays a different clinical scenario or case. Examinees who fail and repeat the examination may encounter repeat information—the same SP, the same case, or the same SP portraying the same case. The goal of this study was twofold: to investigate score gains for all repeat examinees, regardless of whether they experienced repeat information, and to perform additional analyses for only those examinees who did encounter repeat information.
Method: The dataset consisted of 3,045 Step 2 CS repeat examinees who initially tested between April 2005 and December 2007. The authors used paired t tests and analysis of variance models to assess mean score gains (first attempt versus second attempt) and to determine standardized mean differences between encounters with repeat information and those without. The authors ran each set of analyses by test score component and by examinee subgroup.
Results: The authors observed significant mean score increases on second attempt examinations for the entire group of repeat examinees. However, they observed no significant score increases for the subgroup of examinees who encountered repeat information.
Conclusions: Examinees taking Step 2 CS for the second time improve on average, and those with prior exposure to exam information do not appear to benefit unfairly from this exposure.