Everything you need to know!
The United States Medical Licensing Exam is a standardized test that assesses a medical students knowledge on Basic Medical Sciences and their ability to apply that knowledge for practicing medicine. USMLE Exam is a three step exam but in this article we will only be discussing about USMLE Step 1. This exam is administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB).
1. What is USMLE Step 1 Exam Format?
USMLE Step 1 is a computer-based exam taken over a period of 8 hours in a single day. This is a multiple choice question test with seven sections. Each section has 46 questions which make 322 questions in total. Each section must be completed within one hour. So for seven sections with one hour for each section and 322 questions you have around one minute and 18 seconds per question.
Test takers are allowed 45 minutes of personal breaks during the exam. Before the exam students are shown an exam tutorial, if you choose to skip that you get an extra 15 minutes to your total break time. You can only bring soft earplugs in the examination room. Nothing else is allowed – no phones – no electronics – no bags – not even jackets are allowed. We suggest you check with the exam monitor before entering the exam room.
2. How to apply for USMLE Step 1?
Test takers from United States and Canada must apply with the NBME. Test takers from medical schools outside the U.S or Canada need to apply with the educational commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
3. How much does it cost?
As of 2016, Step 1 costs $880.
4. What is covered in the exam?
Step 1 mainly covers basic scientific principles including anatomy, behavioral sciences, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. Interdisciplinary topics covered include genetics, aging, nutrition, immunology, molecular and cell biology, epidemiology, and medical ethics.
Some questions test your understanding of basic facts and definitions. But the majority deal with your ability to solve problems using basic scientific principles. For example, you’ll be asked to interpret graphs, identify gross and microscopic pathology and normal specimens, and apply concepts and principles relevant to individual organ systems.
5. When should you take the test?
Most students take the step 1 exam after finishing courses on Basic Medical Sciences between their 2nd and 3rd years in medical school before their clinical clerkship. Many students get success through this because the basic medical sciences material is still fresh in their minds. They sit down for a few months to review everything and appear in the exam.
6. What are the requirements to pass the exam?
A minimum score of 192 is required to pass the Step 1 exam. The average score in 2013 was 228.
7. When will you get your exam results?
Every wednesday scores for step 1 are released but usually it takes three to four weeks before your score will be released to you. Depending on the entity you registered with (NBME or ECFMG) you’ll receive your results by email. You can also look up your results on their official website. If you don’t receive your results within 2 months you should contact the officials directly. The current pass rate for test takers us around 85%.
8. Can you retake the exam if you’ve already passed?
Unfortunately no, once you have passed the exam the results are final and you’re not allowed to retake the exam.
9. Can you retake the exam if you’ve failed?
Yes you can! If you have failed the first time you can retake the exam a maximum of three times within one year period. Sadly if you’ve failed 3 times your 4th attempt must be atleast 1 year after your first attempt and at least 6 months after your last attempt.
See our Prep course for USMLE Step 1.