The United States Medical Licensing Exam is a three-step examination that is required for medical licensure in the United States.

USMLE Step 1 tests your understanding of basic science and your ability to apply these concepts to the practice of medicine. It is a one-day examination with 322 multiple-choice items divided into 7 blocks of 46 items. One our is allowed for each block.

USMLE Step 2 CK (Clinical Knowledge) tests your ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and understanding of clinical science essential for the provision of patient care under supervision. USMLE Step 2 CK is also a one-day examination, divided into blocks. The number of questions varies by block and there will be no more than 355 items. Regardless of the number of items, 60 minutes are allotted for the completion of each block.

USMLE Step 2 CS (Clinical Skills) takes place in the U.S. at one of several testing sites. This exam tests your ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and understanding of clinical science essential for the provision of patient care under supervision. The Step 2 CS uses standardized patients to test the candidate’s ability to gather information from patients, perform physical examinations, and communicate their findings to patients and colleagues.

USMLE Step 3 tests your ability to apply medical knowledge and understanding of biomedical and clinical science essential for the unsupervised practice of medicine. This is the final examination in the USMLE sequence leading to a license to practice medicine without supervision.

If you’re just starting out on the whole process of examination, you may want to read the must-know overview for IMGs first.



> Step 1: How to Score 250+: Lessons from 10 test takers

Biggest Step 1 mistake

> (sponsored link) Get the most comprehensive USMLE Step 1 Prep available with Kaplan Medical. Enroll Today!

> Step 2 CK: How to Score 250+

> USMLE Step 2 CS: An IMG’s Experience

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6 Replies to “USMLE”

  1. Yassmin G

    Need to start practicing CS live with a female partner. Please message me if you’re in the Raleigh, Cary or Durham area. Thanks.

    • Steps To Residency Post author

      Hi Yassmin, I hope you’ve been able to connect with somebody to practice for the CS. If you haven’t found any luck here, you should post on a forum. I like Go to “USMLE Step 2 CS study partners” and post there. All the best.

  2. Abeera Khuram

    I completed my final year from DUHS,Karachi,Pakistan.Please guide how should I start my preparation for step 1.

    • Shinji Post author

      Hi Areeba, if you haven’t already, you should read this article, which gives you an overview of the overall framework of the USMLE in your residency application. You should also try to be part of a supportive community – ideally in your own community (eg. other graduates from your medical school, other doctors in your area), or definitely at least an online one (like the forum community that’s just started up on this website). You may have already read my articles on preparing for USMLE Step 1 also. In general, I do think that your individual preparation depends on a lot of factors, including your strengths in basic science knowledge compared to what is emphasized in the US medical school/USMLE Step 1 curriculum (which may determine if you will use books/courses/etc), the amount of time you have to dedicate to studying (you need to be realistic about this, particularly if you are going to be working as a doctor while you are studying), and you should know what score you’re aiming for (you should try to score higher than the average for any particular specialty). My general advice also is to focus a good amount of energy on doing USMLE Step 1 questions – I do think UWorld is a must, and if you can, doing other q-banks would be good. NBMEs can give you an idea of how you’re progressing in your prep also.

  3. sonja


    I’m a US IMG looking for a CS study buddy in July/August of this year. Ideally, someone who has done a rotation or two in the States. Location-wise, I am flexible (western Europe or USA) and could potentially do Skype studying, too. Thanks!

  4. madnab

    I am new on this forum. I am an IMG preparing for my step 3 exam. its going to be my second attempt. please help me choose the reading material. Thanks


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