USMLE Frequently Asked Questions

This USMLE FAQ section provides information about frequently asked questions regarding the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination.

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What is the USMLE?

The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a three-part examination for medical licensure in the United States. The USMLE 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 determine fundamental patient-centered skills that are important in health and disease and which constitute the basis of safe and effective patient care.

Who is required to take the USMLE?

All three steps of the USMLE exam must be passed before a physician with an M.D. degree is eligible to apply for an unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States of America.

U.S. osteopathic medical school graduates are permitted to take either the USMLE or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX) for medical licensure.

Students who have graduated from medical schools outside the United States and Canada must pass all three steps of the USMLE to be licensed to practice in the US, regardless of the title of their degree.

Basic Info

Answers to common questions about the USMLE, as well as important links.

  • How do I apply for the USMLE?
    To apply for the USMLE and schedule your exam date, visit the official web page at:

    http://www.usmle.org/apply/index.html.

  • What topics does the USMLE Step 1 exam cover?
    • anatomy
    • behavioral sciences
    • biochemistry
    • microbiology
    • pathology
    • pharmacology
    • physiology
    • other interdisciplinary subjects, including aging, genetics, and nutrition
  • What content does the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) exam cover?
    • internal medicine
    • obstetrics and gynecology
    • pediatrics
    • preventive medicine
    • psychiatry
    • surgery
    • other pertinent topics related to the provision of care under supervision
  • What topics does the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) exam cover?
    There are three subcomponents of USMLE Step 2 CS:

    • Integrated Clinical Encounter (ICE)
    • Communication and Interpersonal Skills (CIS)
    • Spoken English Proficiency (SEP)
  • What topics does the USMLE Step 3 exam cover?
    The USMLE Step 3 exam is organized along three main dimensions:

    • clinical encounter frame
    • physician task
    • normal conditions and diseases

    Step 3 content reflects a data-based model of generalist medical practice in the United States.