What Is the USMLE®️, and When Do You Take It?
USMLE stands for the “United States Medical Licensing Examination” and is the exam that each physician in the U.S. needs to take to demonstrate they have the necessary knowledge and skills to safely practice as a physician.
How Many USMLE®️ Exams Are There?
The licensing examination consists of three parts:
- USMLE®️ Step 1
- USMLE®️ Step 2 CK
- USMLE®️ Step 3
When do you take the USMLE®️ Step 1?
Most people take the USMLE®️ Step 1 after their second year in medical school. By then, they will have covered all the basic sciences that are tested on this exam. Graduates of international medical schools need to take the test to practice in the U.S. after finishing their studies.
When do you take the USMLE®️ Step 2?
In the U.S., most students take the USMLE® Step 2 after their third year of medical school, immediately after finishing clinical rotations. This is because much of what is tested in Step 2 directly relates to what you learn during your clinical rotations.
When do you take the USMLE®️ Step 3?
The USMLE®️ Step 3 is recommended not to be taken before you have completed at least a year of clinical experience after medical school. Many people therefore take it one year into their residency program.
How Many Questions Are on the USMLE®️ Step 1?
There are 280 multiple choice questions on the USMLE®️ Step 1.
Topics covered include the following:
- General Principles
- Blood & Lymphoreticular/Immune Systems
- Behavioral Health & Nervous Systems/Special Senses
- Musculoskeletal, Skin & Subcutaneous Tissue
- Cardiovascular System
- Respiratory & Renal/Urinary Systems
- Gastrointestinal System
- Reproductive & Endocrine Systems
- Multisystem Processes & Disorders
- Biostatistics & Epidemiology/Population Health
- Social Sciences: Communication and Interpersonal Skills
Master your USMLE® Step 1
How Long Is the USMLE®️ Step 1?
It is a one-day examination lasting eight hours that covers all topics from the basic sciences. The exam is divided into seven 60-minute chunks and has a minimum break time of 45 minutes and an optional 15-minute tutorial. The number of questions per block will be 40 at the most.
Eligibility: Who Can Take the USMLE®️?
At the time you apply and on your test day you must fall into one of the following categories:
- You are an officially enrolled medical student or graduate in a U.S. or Canadian school that leads to the MD degree and is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME)
- You are an officially enrolled medical student or graduate in a U.S. school that leads to the DO degree and is accredited by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA)
- You are an officially enrolled medical student or graduate in a school outside the U.S. and Canada that is listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools as meeting ECFMG eligibility requirements, and that meets other eligibility criteria of the ECFMG
USMLE®️ Step 1 Registration
Students and graduates of LCME- and COCA-accredited programs in the U.S. and Canada have to apply through the National Board of Medical Examiners. After registration, you will receive your USMLE®️ ID via email. Then, you apply for the exam and pay the registration fee. After your registration is completed and you are verified, you will receive your scheduling permit. This can take up to two weeks. To schedule your test day and location, visit the Prometric website. You can schedule your exam up to six months in advance.
Students and graduates of medical schools located outside the U.S. and Canada have to apply through the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. Make sure that your passport is still valid! After registration, you will receive your USMLE®️ ID via email. This can take up to 5 business days.
- Before you begin your exam application, you have to complete the application for ECFMG certification and pay the certification fee.
- After payment, you have to complete and notarize the Certification of Identification Form 186. This can be done online through NotaryCam.
- After the ECFMG accepts your application for ECFMG certification and the notarized Form 186 you can complete the USMLE®️ Step 1 application form and pay the fees.
- With the payment process complete, you will have to verify your medical school status online or on paper using Form 186.
- The next step is submitting all other necessary documentation required by the ECFMG. After receiving your scheduling permit you can finally schedule your test day and location at the Prometric website.
In case you need an in-depth tutorial, IMGPREP is a great resource you should visit.
USMLE®️ Step 1 Cost
The registration fee is $660 for students and graduates of LCME- and COCA-accredited programs in the U.S. and Canada.
International medical graduates (IMGs) have to pay $150 to apply for ECFMG certification. To apply for the USMLE®️ Step 1, you will have to pay $975; an additional $180 fee is added if you choose a testing region outside the U.S. and Canada.
USMLE®️ Step 1 Exam Dates in 2023, and How Can I Reschedule My Exam Date?
Step 1 will take place between April and June 2023. More detailed information should be provided very soon here.
You can reschedule your USMLE®️ Step 1 exam on the Prometric website. Note that you have to pay a fee for changing your exam appointment within 45 days or fewer before test day. Here you can check the fees for rescheduling your exam appointment. The fees range from $0 to $328.
Is the USMLE®️ Step 1 Pass/Fail Now?
Since January 2022, the USMLE®️ Step 1 is not scored numerically anymore, but participants only receive a pass/fail outcome.
How Long Does It Take to Get Step 1 Results?
You will typically receive your test results within 3–4 weeks after completing your exam. Examinees who pass the exam will not receive content-based feedback.
Examinees who fail the exam will receive information on how far they were from passing as well as content-based feedback.
How to Prepare for the USMLE®️ Step 1
First, you should plan enough time to study for the USMLE®️ Step 1. You can use this 40-Day Study Schedule if you’re a student with a strong foundation of medical knowledge. If you have significant knowledge gaps, go for the 99-Day Study Schedule.
Visit our blog post for in-depth information about how to study for the USMLE®️ Step 1.