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USMLE Step 1 Exam: Eligibility, Important Dates, and More

Updated on 26 April, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Are you a medical student dreaming of practicing medicine in the United States? If so, then you must have heard about the USMLE Step1 examination. The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a three-step exam that assesses your knowledge and skills to ensure you're ready to practice medicine in the US. The USMLE is sponsored by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the Federation of State Medical Boards. 

Don't Miss : USMLE Exam | USMLE Syllabus | USMLE Eligibility | USMLE Preparation | USMLE Exam Fees |

Recommended : USMLE Step 3 

Step 1 is a one-day examination consisting of multiple-choice questions created by USMLE committees composed of faculty members, investigators, and clinicians with recognized prominence in their respective fields. Step 1 is divided into seven 60-minute blocks and administered in one 8-hour testing session, with the total number of items on the overall examination form not exceeding 280.

Read on to everything you need to know about step 1 of the USMLE exam – from its syllabus, registration process, and preparation tips, to important dates and tips for acing it. So let's get started!

USMLE Step 1 Syllabus and Important Details

The USMLE Step 1 exam is the first and most crucial of the three-part USMLE examination. It assesses a medical student's understanding of basic scientific concepts, including anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavioral sciences.

The USMLE step 1 syllabus comprises various sections given below is the categorization of it to help you understand it better.

General Principles:-

  • Blood & Lymphoreticular/Immune Systems
  • Behavioral Health & Nervous Systems/Special Senses
  • Musculoskeletal, Skin & Subcutaneous Tissue
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Respiratory & Renal/Urinary Systems
  • Gastrointestinal System
  • Reproductive & Endocrine Systems
  • Multisystem Processes & Disorders
  • Biostatistics & Epidemiology/Population Health
  • Social Sciences: Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Knowledge of Competencies:-

  • Medical Knowledge: Applying Foundational Science Concepts
  • Patient Care: Diagnosis
  • Patient Care: Management
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  • Practice-based Learning & Improvement

Discipline Specific:-

  • Pathology
  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Biochemistry & Nutrition
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Gross Anatomy & Embryology
  • Histology & Cell Biology
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Genetics

USMLE Step 1 Registration Process and Upcoming Important Dates

Registration for the USMLE Step 1 exam is a crucial step in ensuring that you are eligible to take the test. The registration process can be done online through the ECFMG (https://www.ecfmg.org/) or NBME (https://www.nbme.org/) websites. Before registering, it's important to make sure that you meet all of the eligibility requirements.

To register for USMLE Step 1, you will need to provide personal information such as your name, address, and contact information. You will also need to have completed at least one year of medical school if you are a student or graduate from an accredited medical school.

During registration, you will also select a testing region and agree to the terms and conditions of taking the exam. It's important to carefully read these terms before agreeing as they include important information about rescheduling fees and test center policies.

Once your registration has been processed and approved, you will receive an email confirmation with instructions on how to schedule your exam date and location. Be sure to keep track of any deadlines or timelines associated with scheduling so that you don't miss out on taking the exam when it works best for your schedule.

USMLE Eligibility for Indian Aspirants

To be eligible Indian candidates should officially be enrolled in, or a graduate of, a US or Canadian medical school program. Students enrolled in Indian medical schools listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools as meeting ECFMG eligibility requirements are also qualified to apply for USMLE Step 1.

USMLE 2023 Dates

The USMLE Step 1 exam does not have set dates. Instead, candidates are allowed to select a three-month eligibility period during which they can take the exam at any time mentioned below:-

Three-Month Eligibility Periods 

November 1, 2022 - January 31, 2023

October 1, 2023 - December 31, 2023

Candidates need to plan accordingly and select an eligibility period that works best for their schedule and study plan. Additionally, it is recommended to schedule the exam as early as possible within the eligibility period to allow for potential retakes if necessary.

5 Important Preparation Tips to Keep in Mind

Here are five tips to help you prepare for the USMLE Step 1 exam:

  1. Create a study schedule: It is important to create a study schedule that works for you and provides enough time for studying all the material. This can help you stay organized and on track while preparing for the exam. Make sure to include breaks and time for relaxation in your schedule to avoid burnout.
  2. Use high-quality study materials: Use reliable and high-quality study materials such as review books, online resources, and question banks. You can also use USMLE practice tests to help assess your knowledge and identify areas where you need to focus more.
  3. Focus on understanding concepts: Instead of just memorizing facts, focus on understanding the underlying concepts. This can help you retain the information better and apply it in different scenarios on the exam.
  4. Practice time management: The USMLE Step 1 exam is timed, so it is important to practice time management. Try to simulate the testing conditions by taking practice tests and timing yourself. This can help you get comfortable with the exam format and reduce anxiety on test day.
  5. Take care of yourself: Lastly, make sure to take care of yourself physically and mentally. Get enough sleep, exercise, eat healthily, and take breaks from studying. It is important to be in a good physical and mental state to perform well on the exam.

Remember, preparing for the USMLE Step 1 exam can be a long and challenging process. However, by following these tips and staying motivated, you can increase your chances of success on test day.

Score to Target

With the USMLE Step 1 exam transitioning from a three-digit score, theoretically ranging from 1 to 300 with a passing score of 196 to a Pass/Fail scoring system starting in January 2022. The target score for test-takers from now on will be different than in previous years. Instead of aiming for a specific three-digit numeric score, the target will now be to pass the exam.

However, it is still important to aim for a strong performance on the exam to stand out to residency program directors. So, while the emphasis on test scores may be reduced, it is still important to strive for a strong performance on the exam.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for USMLE Step 1?

To be eligible for the USMLE Step 1 exam, any individual must meet any one eligibility criteria mentioned below:-

1. A medical student officially enrolled in or having a graduation degree from a US or Canadian medical school program directing to the MD degree that is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME)


2. A medical student officially enrolled in or having a graduation degree from a US medical school directing to the DO degree that is accredited by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA)


3. A medical student officially enrolled in or having a graduation degree from a medical school that is outside the US and Canada, meeting ECFMG eligibility criteria.

Is USMLE Step 1 easy for Indian Students?

It is not as challenging when compared to other competitive exams held in India. However, the key to success in the USMLE is to start early and study consistently. Many students start preparing for the exam a year or two in advance while referring to resources such as textbooks, review courses, and practice questions.

How much does it cost for USMLE Step 1?

              Exam                Fees            Eligibility Period
              Step 1                 $660Eligibility Period starting from November 1, 2022 - January 31, 2023, through October 1, 2023- December 31, 2023
              Steps 1 & 2CK                 $70In case of an Eligibility period extension

Can Indian doctors work in the USA without USMLE?

No, Indian doctors need to pass the USMLE exam. During this period, the students can take the USMLE-2 CK exam in India to qualify for Residency in the USA after clearing the USMLE exam with approximate marks (230+). The Indian doctors can then apply for a work visa in the USA when they get the residency confirmation from officials.

How long is USMLE valid?

If you do not satisfy all examination requirements within a maximum of seven years, your earliest USMLE passing performance will no longer be valid for ECFMG Certification. It, therefore, becomes your responsibility to track your progress toward meeting the exam criteria for Certification of ECFMG.

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Mrinal Mandal is a study abroad expert with a passion for guiding students towards their international education goals. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering, earned in 2018. Since 2021, Mrinal has been working with upGrad Abroad, where he assists aspiring students in realizing their dreams of studying abroad. With his expertise and dedication, he empowers individuals to navigate the complexities of international education, making their aspirations a reality.

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