What is the USMLE?

United States Medical License Examination (USMLE) is a three-step examination. It is mandatory for all medical graduates in order to get residency and to practice medicine in the United States of America (USA). You should pass USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS to be qualified to apply for residency in the USA. Step 3 pass is mandatory to practice medicine without supervision.

USMLE Step 1 Examination:

Step 1 assesses your understanding of basic sciences and application of this knowledge on clinical situations. Most of the questions are clinical scenarios followed by a question and 4 or more answers and you choose the correct one. It is one day examination. The test includes 280 questions divided into 7 blocks. Each block is 1 hour. There is also a presentation of 15 minutes before the test and 45 minutes of break time.

Subjects covered by USMLE Step 1 are:  anatomy, physiology, Biochemistry and cell biology, pathology, pharmacology, microbiology, behavioral sciences, epidemiology and statistics.

USMLE Step 2 CK Examination:

Step 2 CK assesses your decisions on clinical situations regarding diagnosis and treatment and patient care. It is one day examination and it includes 320 questions divided into 8 blocks. Each block is one hour. There is also a presentation for 15 minutes and 45 minutes of break time. It has the same format of multiple-choice questions as Step 1 examination.

Subjects covered by USMLE Step 2 CK are:  general and systematic medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry and forensic medicine.
USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK can be taken in different countries and not only in the USA.

USMLE Step 2 CS Examination:

Step 2 CS assesses your interaction with the patients in terms of patient care, communication, history taking, physical examination and documentation. It uses standardized patients (actors not real patients). The test includes 12 cases. You have 15 minutes to stay inside the room with each standardized patient to take a history, perform exam and discuss the case with the patient. After you leave the room you will have 10 minutes to write patient notes. There is a lunch break of 30 minutes after 4 cases and another break of 15 minutes after 4 more cases. This test is only taken in the USA test centers.

USMLE Step 3 Examination:

This is the final examination of the USMLE series and it assesses your ability to take decisions in clinical situations and follow up without supervision. It is a 2- day exam. The first day includes 256 multiple choice questions divided into 6 blocks. Each block is one hour. There are 5-minute tutorial and 45 minutes of break time. The second day includes 198 multiple choice questions divided into 6 blocks. Each block is 45 minutes. These blocks are followed by 13 case simulations (CCS).  These cases are advancing scenarios on the computer, not standardized patients as in Step 2 CS.  Each case takes 10-20 minutes and there is 45 minutes of break time. This test is also taken only in the USA test centers.

I wish you the best of luck in your examinations.

12 thoughts on “What is the USMLE?”

  1. This is true. Thanks so much for sharing this information.

  2. Pharmacy, a profession that had always played a supportive role from behind the scenes in the entire healthcare sector has been thrown into the limelight as we move from health crisis to economic crisis due to the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.

  3. Hi sir I am currently studying in 2nd proff in India and I am planning to give my step 1 but I am little bit confused as to give it in 3rd year(2021) or in 4th year starting(2022) keeping in mind that in 2022 usmle will become pass and fail and so that I don’t have to worry about my score in step 1

    Sir please help

  4. Firstly this was very informative sir,thanks for sharing
    Myself 2nd proff mbbs student from India what more efforts should I add on in addition to my regular studies for USMLE…

  5. I would say any of them is helpful as long as you have a proof that you are involved in doing medical and clinical work after you finish college.

  6. Do clinical electives prove to be more efficient and useful than observership in general? Or are they more or less similar in increasing our chance of residency? I’m in the last year of my Mbbs, currently doing my internship and I’m really confused if I should go for electives now or do observership after my internship ends.. Please enlighten me.

  7. Thank you Hong. I am just trying to help medical graduates to finish their boards successfully. Thank you for sharing this article and spreading the word.
    I appreciate your time visiting my website and reading this article. Have a nice day.

  8. Thank you Mr Andrade. I am just trying to help medical students and doctors who prepare for the USMLE to do their best without tearing them financially by posting these free questions and answers. Thank you again for forwarding this article to your friend and I hope she likes it. Have a great day.

  9. This is great information to have for medical students. I have classmate from nursing school that want to become a medal doctor. I am sure this information will be useful for them. I will share this with them. Thank you for your article.

  10. This is fantastic Dr. Ray =) Brief yet very informative. I actually have a friend in the US who is about to graduate and is in the medical field. I shall forward this article to her and I am sure it will be very helpful =) Thank you for your guidance.

  11. Hi Dr Manzoor
    There are a lot of pharmacology questions to help pharmacy students and I also have a blog site . I am looking for a nurse MCQs site as well and I let you know when I start it.
    Thank you so much

  12. Hello admin you are really helping students and medical professionals to get United States licence but what i want to tell you please guide pharmacist and nurses as well !!! Thanks

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