Purpose of USMLE - examiners
In the United States and its territories ("United States"or "US"), the individual medical licensing authorities ("state medical boards") of the various jurisdictions grant a license to practice medicine.
Each medical licensing authority sets its own rules and regulations and requires passing an examination that demonstrates qualification for licensure.
Results of the USMLE are reported to these authorities for use in granting the initial license to practice medicine. The USMLE provides them with a common evaluation system for applicants for medical licensure.
Purpose of USMLE - candidates
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 complements the others; no Step can stand alone in the assessment of readiness for medical licensure.
Because individual medical licensing authorities make decisions regarding use of USMLE results, you should contact the jurisdiction where you intend to apply for licensure to obtain complete information. Also, the FSMB can provide general information on medical licensure.
For the board, educators and candidates
The goals of the USMLE include:
- To provide to licensing authorities meaningful information from assessments of physician characteristic - including medical knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes—that are important to the provision of safe and effective patient care.
- To engage medical educators and their institutions, licensing authority members, and practicing clinicians in the design and development of these assessments.
- To assure fairness and equity to physicians through the highest professional testing standards.
- To continue to develop and improve assessments for licensure with the intent of assessing physicians more accurately and comprehensively.
To apply for USMLE examinations, you must submit an application through the appropriate entity. See Apply for USMLE.
Step 1 and Step 2 applications must be submitted to the NBME if you are a student or graduate of a medical school in the United States and Canada, or to the ECFMG if you are a student or graduate of a medical school outside the United States and Canada.
Application procedures for Step 3 vary among jurisdictions. Depending on the licensing board, application materials are available from the FSMB or from the medical licensing authority. See also USMLE Bulletin: Applying for the Test and Scheduling Your Test Date.
Specifics: U.S. and International Medical Graduates (IMGs)Specifically for both U.S and International medical graduates (IMGs) seeking residency training posts in US hospitals; for you to apply for USMLE examinations, you must submit an application through the appropriate registration entity as clearly described below:
(A). 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)
(B). 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)
(C). For Step 3:
All medical school graduates who have passed Step 1 and Step 2
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 the Contact Form found on the official website (links to it are on this page).
Information about the Biometric Enabled Check-in System used at Prometric test centers is available.
The following sites also may help:
- National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME): For students/graduates of medical schools in the US or Canada taking or planning to take Step 1, Step 2 CK, or Step 2 CS
- Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG): For students/graduates of medical schools outside the US and Canada taking or planning to take Step 1, Step 2 CK, or Step 2 CS
- Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB): For any student / graduate taking or planning to take Step 3. Also for students / graduates looking for information about medical licensure.
For detailed information on prep resources, current fees structure and current exams timetable, visit the official USMLE homepage here: http://www.usmle.org
First written 18th January, 2009.
Updated 30th October, 2013.
Related: Top Scholarships in USA for International Students