What is USMLE?
The USMLE exam stands for the United States Medical Licensing Examination. It is an examination divided into three steps that every individual needs to pass if they wish to practice medicine in the United States. The USMLE is sponsored by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the Federation of State Medical Boards.
While pursuing their medical education and after successful completion of an MD degree, physicians will be required to pass this examination to gain a license to practice medicine in the U.S.
All three steps in the USMLE exam complement each other and are framed to assess the skills and abilities of the physician. It means that one step alone cannot stand in the line of assessment for the readiness of a doctor to gain their medical license.
Generally, the first two steps are taken by the student during medical school. While the third step is taken after graduation.
Who takes the USMLE Exam?
Any physician who wants to earn a license to practice medicine in the US needs to take the USMLE exam.
Overview of USMLE Test
USMLE – STEP 1 Test overview
The Step 1 exam tests the basic knowledge of a candidate in the medical sciences. Step 1 is an eight-hour exam, divided into seven blocks constituting 60 minutes each. USMLE Step 1 has around 280 questions in total, not exceeding 40 questions per block. Most of the material covered in Step 1 evaluates the understanding of the student in subjects they have studied in the first and second year of their MBBS degree.
USMLE – STEP 2 Test overview
Step 2-CK, which stands for clinical knowledge, has a similar structure to Test 1. It is a one-day exam administered in eight blocks, each for 60 minutes. It aims to test the diagnostic ability and knowledge of diseases/conditions that would be imperative for the treatment of patients. The Step 2-CK covers patient care and the clinical sciences which is largely covered in topics taught in the third and fourth year of an MBBS program. Step 2 is taken when you are ready for the examination during medical school.
USMLE – STEP 3 Test overview
USMLE Step 3 is the final step in the USMLE Exam. The main purpose is to test whether a candidate’s skills and maturity levels are advanced enough for them to practice medicine without supervision. This part of the test can only be taken in the USA and is taken over two test days.
What is the USMLE Exam format?
1. What is the Eligibility Criteria of the USMLE Exam?
To be eligible for the USMLE Exam, you must be in one of the following categories at the time of applying and on the day of the examination. Here is the eligibility criteria:
- A medical student enrolled in, or a graduate of a U.S. or Canadian medical school and is leading to the MD degree that is accredited by the LCME, OR
- A student officially enrolled in or is a graduate of a U.S. medical school and is leading to the DO degree which is accredited by COCA or the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation.
- A medical student enrolled in or is a graduate of a medical school which is outside the U.S. and Canada but listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools and meets the ECFMG eligibility requirements
2. How many times can you take the USMLE?
An individual is allowed a maximum of four attempts per step. Examinees who have failed to pass an USMLE step after four attempts are ineligible to apply for the exam.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which USMLE Step Examination is most important?
USMLE Step 1 is the most important exam you will take in your medical career because it is going to determine which medical specialties you can follow and what type of residency program you match for.
2. What is a good score to consider for USMLE?
The minimum score to pass for Step 1 is 194, while the national average is 229. In general, a score of 230 to 245 is considered a good score in USMLE Step 1, while 245 to 255 is considered to be a great score.
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The Saba faculty are highly experienced, with either an MD or a doctorate degree. 94% of Saba graduates have successfully gained residencies in the U.S. and Canada between 2019-2021 and 100% of the students have passed their USMLE Step 1 on their first attempt (2021).
Learn more about the MD program at Saba.
For prospective students
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