THE UNITED STATES MEDICAL LICENSING EXAMINATION (USMLE)
The USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) is a medical examination designed to evaluate your readiness to practice medicine in the U.S. For foreign nationals, the ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) administers the USMLE outside the U.S.
The USMLE is comprised of three steps (USMLE Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3), and is a multiple choice examination. The examination is administered throughout the world at various sites authorized with ECFMG. Please note that Step 3 is only administered in the U.S.
USMLE step 1, is a multiple choice exam consisting of four blocks of about 300 questions. You're given about three hours for each block of questions, and take two blocks on each day. The step 1 covers all of the basic sciences - Anatomy, Biochemistry, Physiology, statistics, Behavioral science, microbiology, pharmacology, pathology, ethics - and it is typically taken in the first half of the medical school curriculum at a time when these subjects have been covered.
USMLE step 2, is the examination that American Medical students take before being allowed to graduate from medical school. It consists of a similar two-day, four x 3-hour question sessions, and covers all of the clinical sciences including medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, forensics, emergency care, ENT, ophthalmology, tropical health, ethics. It is usually taken in the final year of medical school.
USMLE step 3, is taken by American students during their residency program within a year or so of graduation. International students only need to take the USMLE part 3 if they plan to obtain a H-1B visa. It is largely similar in scope to the USMLE step 2 with more emphasis in practical management.