What is the USMLE® Step 1 ® – All About the USMLE Step 1 Exam Guide

CSS for Pillar Pages

What is the USMLE Step 1?

The USMLE® Step 1 is a licensure exam that assesses medical students’ understanding of scientific concepts foundational to the practice of medicine. Step 1 emphasizes the principles and mechanisms underlying health, disease, and therapy. Step 1 challenges aspiring medical doctors to demonstrate the necessary competencies required to practice medicine safely from day one and throughout their careers via lifelong learning of the scientific principles guiding medical practice.

What is on the USMLE Step 1?

The USMLE Step 1 is a multiple-choice exam that assesses your knowledge of the basic sciences, principles, and underlying human health and disease mechanisms. The USMLE program provides a Content Description outlining the distribution of disciplines and organ systems covered on the USMLE Step 1.

Tested disciplines include:

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

How long is the USMLE Step 1?

  • One-day examination divided into seven 60-minute blocks
  • Administered in one 8-hour testing session
  • Maximum of 40 questions per block
  • Maximum of 280 questions on the overall examination

When should I take the USMLE Step 1?

This varies by medical school. Many medical schools have their students take Step 1 at the end of the second year, just after completing the preclinical curriculum. Other medical schools (typically those with a condensed preclinical curriculum) have their students take Step 1 in the third year, after a series of core clinical rotations. Either way, students should complete Step 1 before preparing their residency application. For international medical graduates, passing Step 1 is one of the requirements for certification by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

When should I start studying for the USMLE Step 1?

Most US medical schools give their students a dedicated study period of 4-8 weeks to focus on studying for the USMLE Step 1. However, many successful students begin studying for Step 1 much earlier, often in parallel with studying their preclinical classwork. Using a question bank (QBank) alongside your first- and second-year classwork can help you assess your understanding of the information you are learning in class and get a head start on preparing for Step 1.

How do I study for the USMLE Step 1?

Start by familiarizing yourself with the 2024 USMLE Bulletin of Information, which contains essential information such as eligibility requirements, test scheduling, exam procedure, and score reporting. To study for the USMLE Step 1, most medical students use a QBank alongside a comprehensive review book.

We recommend our USMLE Step 1 QBank, the number one QBank for medical students. Our active learning methodology will help you master the information you need to know to pass Step 1. It will also help you gain a solid foundation of knowledge for future clinical success.

How is the USMLE Step 1 scored?

USMLE Step 1 score reporting transitioned from a numeric score and pass/fail outcome to pass/fail only. All Step 1 exam score outcomes will be reported as pass/fail for exams administered on or after January 26, 2022.

What is the USMLE Step 1 passing score?

USMLE Step 1 score reporting is reported as pass/fail only for exams taken on or after January 26, 2022. On the three-digit score scale, the passing standard is 196. Future reviews of the Step 1 passing standard will not be reported in terms of a three-digit score.

How soon will I get my USMLE Step 1 results?

According to the 2024 USMLE Bulletin of Information, it typically takes 2-4 weeks to receive your Step 1 score.

How many times can I take the USMLE Step 1?

You may take the USMLE Step 1 no more than six times, including incomplete attempts.

UWorld USMLE Step 1 QBank

Discover the #1 Trusted Resource
for Step 1 Prep  

Get in Touch

We understand you may have questions.
Know we’re always here to help.

Scroll to Top

Renewal Instructions

  •   Please purchase a renewal using the "Renew" option from the My Account page
  •   To qualify for renewal pricing, course must be renewed before it expires
  •   All renewals are effective from the current expiration date and cannot be deferred
  •   Test information cannot be reset (deleted) with renewal unless eligibility criteria is met (see Help page)