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All You Need To Know About USMLE Step 1 – 2021 Guide

usmle-step-1

Usmle is a three-part examination taken for medical licensure in the United States. This medical license is of extreme importance as it legally permits a student to practice Medicine. Co-sponsored by NBME and FSMB, this test is meant to evaluate an examinee’s ability to showcase fundamental patient-oriented skills. It evaluates how well a student can apply medical principles and facts at practice and ensure patient’s health and safety. 

Patients or health care consumers put their confidence and trust in the doctors who have passed all three steps of USMLE. 

USMLE Step 1

USMLE Step 1 assesses a physician’s basic medical knowledge in two dimensions:

  • System 
  • Process

If you see the course outline of usmle step 1, you’ll find out that it lays strong emphasis on the basic science material, particularly on the disease mechanisms and the modes of therapy. 

Step 1 prepares a student both for the present and the future. This implies it doesn’t only ensure a strong foundation for practicing medicine safely but also makes a student master the scientific principles through lifelong learning. 

Step 1 is an 8-hour long computerized test that is divided into seven blocks. Each block needs to be completed in 60 minutes. 

The number of questions in each block may vary but it would not exceed 40. Concerning overall examination, the total number of multiple-choice questions will not be any more than 280. There are two types of questions: 

  • First-order – questions that are quite straightforward
  • Second-order – questions that involve critical thinking i.e. figuring out the diagnosis or underlying pathology and then answering the question

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for step 1 exam, you must fall in any of the following categories:

  • Either you’re officially enrolled in or you’re a graduate of, a Canadian or US medical school program leading to an MD degree accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), or leading to the DO degree accredited by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA)
  • If you’re an international medical student or graduate, your medical school should be listed in the World Directory of medical schools. Thus, lying outside Canada or the US, you can take the exam if you meet the eligibility requirements of ECFGM (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) and get ECFGM certification.

How to register?

Candidates from US or Canadian medical schools can register as a first-user for step 1 through the NBME website. By doing this, you’ll get your usmle ID via email.

After you receive your ID, you can now apply for the test by selecting a new application. You’ll then be asked to choose your testing period. A scheduling permit will be issued to you via email.

The next step is crucial – from a set of slots/dates available in your chosen 3 month eligibility period, you’ll have to schedule your exam date using the Prometric website. Fill in the slot timely and quickly otherwise it will be taken.

Usmle step 1 dates 2021

There is no specific date to sit for usmle step 1. Instead, it’s totally on the applicant, however, choosing a 3-month eligibility period is essential. During this period, the applicant can take the exam whatever slot or date he/she finds suitable and available. 

When can you get your scorecard?

After you’ve appeared for the test, you’re most likely to get your test score within 3-4 weeks.

USMLE Step 1 syllabus

The course outline of step 1 is as follows:

Core Subjects:

  • Pathology – 44-52%
  • Physiology -23-35%
  • Pharmacology – 15-22%

Others:

  • Biochemistry & nutrition – 14–24%
  • Microbiology – 10–15%
  • Immunology – 6–11%
  • Gross Anatomy & Embryology – 11–15%
  • Histology & Cell Biology – 8–13%
  • Behavioral Sciences – 8–13%
  • Genetics – 5–9%

Note: The %ages are subject to change

You must have a full understanding of the general principles, normal and abnormal processes, not limited to but especially those that are organ and system-specific. Therefore, having sound knowledge of organ systems will best work in your favor during the exam.  

How to prepare for usmle step 1

Preparing for usmle step 1 may seem a daunting task at first thought but it doesn’t have to be as complicated as we all think. Passing the exam with a good score is incredibly important for you to be a practicing physician. 

Check out the usmle official website and register through the appropriate registration entity. It’s recommended to start studying at least 6 months before the exam.

If you really have no idea where to start from, don’t worry! Here is your go-to study plan, following which you’ll be confident about your performance. 

  • Solve sample questions by taking a full-fledged practice test. It’s normal to get a bad score without preparation. 
  • Then create an effective study schedule. Make sure you follow it wholeheartedly. No need to stress over even if you are lagging behind. Just make a few tweaks to your study plan and relax. Just believe, you’ll get there soon.
  • Drill down your weak areas at your earliest. If you’re consistently getting a bad practice score, don’t fret over it. Rather concentrate your energy and efforts on your weaker ends. You’re the only one who can get this all better. 
  • You shouldn’t complete the syllabus just for the sake of completing it. This would get you nowhere. Give dedicated time to each topic and subject. 
  • Start your preparation with Pathology and Physiology. Covering key pathological mechanisms will help you know that you’ve covered more in less time. 
  • Make use of authentic online resources to complement your pre-existing medical knowledge.
  • Indulge in active learning by doing many qbanks.
  • Take necessary breaks to refresh your mind. 

Best Practices for choosing the right answers

  • Since there is no negative marking in answering wrong, so there remains no point to leave the questions you’re not sure about. If you’re really stuck and cannot think of even the nearest answer, mark it, move on, and get back to it after completing the rest of the block with a relaxed mind. 
  • If you’re confused with the options, make sure you narrow down your options by putting aside the wrong ones. Now, see what seems the best fit for the question asked and then mark it. 
  • Carefully read the question and its supporting information provided before answering. 
  • When it comes to usmle step 1, solving qbanks before the test should a must thing to do. You shouldn’t worry about answering questions wrong. The sole purpose of this is just thorough practice. Doing this, you’ll get to know what type of questions could be asked in the real exam, what you’re weak at, and what you need to focus more on. 

Best Online Resource for USMLE preparation

Yes, step 1 is the most challenging part of the three tests but you can score higher than your expectation, provided you’re getting help from the right person. In terms of the quality of the medical content, Dr.Najeeb’s lectures are fantastic. He also offers an exclusive online course on step 1 to help his students shine. Get started now to ace your exam!