What is USMLE?
The United States Medical Licensing Examination ® (USMLE®) is a three-step examination for medical licensure in the United States and is sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®).
The USMLE assesses a physician’s ability to apply knowledge, concepts, and principles, and to demonstrate fundamental patient-centered skills, that are important in health and disease and that constitute the basis of safe and effective patient care. Each of the three Steps of the USMLE complements the others; no Step can stand alone in the assessment of readiness for medical licensure.
Why do you need to take the USMLE exams?
It will take you at least three years to complete a US residency program. You will also have the exams to take beforehand it is called the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). While it is a long, difficult journey, you are not alone. International Medical Graduates (IMG’s) comprise 25% of the US physician workforce. ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) Certification is required for all International Medical Graduates (IMGs) who wish to work or train in the US. In order to get this certification you will need to take and pass all of the USMLE Step 1, Step 2CK and Step 2CS exams. You will then be able to apply to Residency Programs in the US!
To apply for USMLE examinations, you must submit an application through the appropriate registration entity as described below.
Note: Step 1 and Step 2 CK are not offered during the first 14 days of January or on major local holidays.
For Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 2 CS:
For students / graduates of LCME-or AOA-accredited medical programs in the US or Canada:
apply through NBME on NLES (NBME Licensing Examination Services)
For Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 2 CS:
For students / graduates of medical schools located outside the US and Canada:
apply through ECFMG on IWA (Interactive Web Applications)
For Step 3:
All medical school graduates who have passed Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 2 CS:
apply through FSMB. Information and links to an online or paper application are available on the Medical Licensing Examination page of the FSMB website.
If you have any questions about the application process, you may fill out our Contact Form »
Information about the Biometric Enabled Check-in System used at Prometric test centers is available.
It is important to get high scores on the first time that you take the exams, as once you pass an exam; you are then stuck with that score! So it is imperative that you go into every USMLE exam prepared!
In order to gain State Licensure, you’ll need to take the USMLE Step 3, which is typically taken by US Medical Graduates after their first year of Residency. However some IMGs take the Step 3 exam before they apply for Residency; as this can allow different visas to be obtained for the US and can give an application a competitive edge!
Finally, so that you can gain Board Certification, which enables you to work in any US state, in any job, you’ll need to complete a Residency Training Program.
Preparing for the Test
Materials Available Through USMLE
The best preparation for the USMLE is a general, thorough review of the examination content and test formats and running the practice test , all of which are available on the USMLE website. Please note: USMLE practice materials are updated periodically. Self-assessment information and materials are also available at www.nbme.org.
Materials Available Through Third Parties
There are no test preparation courses affiliated with or sanctioned by the USMLE program. Information on such courses is not available from the ECFMG, FSMB, NBME, USMLE Secretariat, or medical licensing authorities.
Test preparation courses and materials are available from individuals and companies not associated with USMLE. It is unlawful for any test preparation service or program to use, disclose, distribute, or otherwise provide access to questions or answers from actual USMLE exams. If you are involved with any enterprise that disseminates USMLE content, you should be aware of the consequences to you, regardless of whether your exposure to USMLE content was advertent or inadvertent: If there is evidence that you enrolled in, participated in, or used any test preparation program or service that distributes, provides access to, or uses USMLE questions or answers, or provides a forum for others to share such information, your registration and/or testing may be canceled, your scores on the USMLE may be withheld or canceled, and you may be subject to further sanctions.