USMLE

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Background

The USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) comprises of 3 parts. It is recognised by the licensing authorities in the USA as evidence of having achieved a level of basic clinical competence and knowledge. Successful completion is a requirement to enter post-graduate training in the USA. The score for the exam is often used as a discriminating factor in admission to residency programmes. Graduates of non-US medical schools must apply for the USMLE exam through the ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates). Certification by the ECFMG must be obtained before a clinical job can be taken in the USA.

Exam structure

  • Step 1 - An 8 hour computer based multiple choice exam on the basic sciences. The exam is administered in many countries, including the UK.
  • Step 2 Clinical Knowledge - An 8 hour computer based multiple choice exam on clinical medicine. This exam is also administered in many countries including the UK.
  • Step 2 Clinical Skills - A 1 day clinical skills practical examination on actors simulating patients. English language skills are now assessed as part of this examination. This exam must be taken in the USA.
  • Step 3 - A 2 day computer based exam consisting of multiple choice questions and clinical case scenarios. This exam must be taken in the USA. It is not required for certification by the ECFMG, and is usually taken during the first year of a residency programme. Passing this exam is, however, necessary to obtain some types of visa, such as the H-1.

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