The USMLE®

The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE®) is the official examination to obtain a medical license in the United States. The USMLE® includes four examinations divided in three steps (Step 1, Step 2 CK & CS, and Step 3). The USMLE® is coordinated by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) in the United States.

More than a simple examination, the USMLE® assesses a student’s readiness to becoming a doctor. In each patient-centered question, the USMLE® measures how well a student is able to integrate and apply scientific knowledge, concepts and skills to a clinical scenario. The goal of the USMLE® is to ensure every future physician in the US can apply knowledge, concepts and principles of medicine to real life scenarios in a safe and effective manner.

Steps USMLE

Step 1

Step 2 CK – Clinical Knowledge

Step 2 CS – Clinical Skills

Step 3

The Step 1 is the first of the steps and the most feared by many students. The Step 1 is an eight-hour computer exam with 280 multiple choice (single best answer) questions divided in 7 one-hour blocks. The Step 1 assesses key basic science concepts of anatomy, behavioral science, biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, physiology, genetics, immunology, nutrition applied to clinical scenarios. The minimum score to pass the USMLE® Step 1 is 192. However, given the fierce competition for a residency placement in the United States, it is best to get a score above 220.
Although a student in the US normally takes the Step 1 at the end of their second year of medical school, an international medical graduate can take it at any point. Step 1 will require dedicated preparation time, so allow yourself at least six months to review content material.