Last Updated: June 05, 2021
The USMLE is a standardized examination that provides allopathy physicians the license to practice in the US. The examination is sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Boards and the National Board of Medical Examiners. It is conducted through 3 different steps each of which can take a duration of one or two days to complete. The people who can apply for the examination are either those who have officially enrolled for an MD course or have graduated with an MD from a school that is accredited by the International Medical Education Directory.
This examination is to be taken within a 7-year period and tests the knowledge the candidate has in both the academic field and in relation to patient care. The examination is one that allows candidates to independently practice medicine. Due to the importance of the exam in the lives of medical students in the US and its territories, there are a lot of questions that have been asked frequently in relation to the examination. These questions have been answered to the fullest in the latter part of the page.
Who is the USMLE examination for?
The USMLE test is taken by medical students in the field of allopathy while they are either enrolled for their MD course or have graduated with the same degree.
What are the eligibility criteria for applying for USMLE?
Students who are officially enrolled for their MD degree or have graduated with their MD degree from a medical school that is accredited by the International Medical Education Directory are eligible to apply for the test.
When should medical students take each Step of USMLE?
Candidates who are taking the USMLE test must consider the following time frame for attempting the examination. Step 1 and Step 2 of the examination must be completed before the candidate is eligible to apply for Step 3 of the examination. Though LCME accredited schools do not have a specific order in which Step 1 and Step should be taken, the general pattern is for students to take Step 1 after their 2nd year and Step 2 after their 4th year.
How many questions are there in each Step of USMLE?
The number of questions in the examination changes according to the Step the candidate is attending. There will be a maximum of 280 questions in Step 1 which will be divided into seven 60-minute blocks. Each block will contain only a maximum of 40 questions. In Step 2, there will be a maximum of 318 questions which is split into eight 60-minute blocks. Each block will contain only a maximum of 40 questions.
Step 3 is split into 2 days where the first day of the examination will have 232 questions split into six 60-minute blocks each block having 38-39 questions in all. The second day of the examination will have 180 questions split into six blocks each one containing 30 questions. This will be followed by 13 case simulations.
What is the time duration of each of the Steps in USMLE?
Each Step of the USMLE is conducted on different days and takes a substantial amount of time enough to be named a one-day examination or a two-day examination.
- Step 1- 8 hours with a 45-minute break
- Step 2 CK- 9 hours with a 45-minute break
- Step 3- Day 1: 7 hours
Day 2: 9 hours
All 3 examinations must be completed within a time frame of 7 years marked from the test date of Step 1.
What is the cost of USMLE?
The cost of the three different steps for the year 2021-2022 is as follows-
- Step 1- $645
- Step 2 CK- $645
- Step 3- $895
Can a candidate retake the examination?
Candidates will be able to take the USMLE examination only 3 times in a 12-month duration. If they require to take the exam a fourth time they will have to wait until 12 months have passed from their first test date and at least 6 months after their most recent test date.
What is the Pass Score for USMLE?
Each Step of the USMLE examination has a different pass mark that has been increased recently due to the increase in the average or median overall score of candidates. This score keeps changing year after year and is based on the performance of students who take the test. The pass scores for the academic year 2021-2022 are-
- Step 1 - 194
- CK Step 2 - 209
- Step 3 - 198
Does the USMLE have an age limit?
No, the USMLE examination has no set age limit. The eligibility criteria only state that the candidate should either be enrolled officially for an MD program or have completed their MD degree in a school listed within the International Medical Education Directory.
What can a candidate carry to the examination hall?
Candidates will not be allowed to keep their personal belongings inside the examination hall. They will be only permitted to carry soft-foam earplugs without strings during the computer examination. It should not be packaged and should be readily provided for inspection during the beginning of the examination.
What should the candidate carry to the examination hall?
Candidates will need a printed copy or an electronic copy of their scheduled permit with them while entering the examination hall. They should also carry an ID card along with them which can be-
- Driver’s License with Photograph
- National ID
- Any Unexpired Government ID
Will the candidate be permitted to take the test if they arrive late due to unprecedented events?
If the candidate arrives later than 30 minutes for the test, they will not be admitted to the test and will have to pay a nominal fee for rescheduling the test to another date. Candidates must take care to have the rescheduled date fall within their eligibility period of 7 years from the test date of Step 1.
How can a candidate request for a rechecking of USMLE scores?
Candidates who have doubts relating to their final scores of USMLE will be able to request a score recheck by following the following sites according to the organization with which they have registered for the examination.
- If the candidate registered through NBME, they have to visit the NBME examinee page.
- If the candidate registered through ECFMG, they have to visit the ECFMG Recheck page.
- If the candidate registered through FSMB, they have to visit the FSMB Step 3 page.