prepare for usmle

How To Prepare For USMLE Step 1 and Step 2?

USMLE is an essential test for all candidates who want to start in the medical field. So how to prepare for USMLE? Let’s begin with this article!

June 15, 2022

So I will start with the very basics. This is a very basic guide to prepare for USMLE for anyone who wants to pursue medical training in the US and wants to have some idea about the USMLE. For others, you may skip this part if you are already done with your USMLE exams.

What is the USMLE?

prepare for usmle

The United States Medical Licensing Examination (often known as the USMLE for short) is a medical examination in the United States. All medical students and physicians who intend to practice medicine must go through a three-step examination process, which includes a background check.

The first exam is referred to as USMLE Step 1 in the medical field. On the first day, you will be tested on nonclinical topics such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and genetics. You will also be tested on drugs, pathologies, and biostatics, among other things. The American Board of Internal Medicine is in charge of administering it. Which questions are on the step 1 test and how long will they last?

It takes eight hours to complete the Step 1 exam, which is divided into seven one-hour blocks, followed by a 45-minute break and a 15-minute optional lecture, for a total of eight hours. There are Prometric centers all around the globe where you may take the examination. It will not be necessary for you to go to the United States in order to take this exam, which is wonderful news for foreign students who are studying there. It is commonly referred to as the most challenging of the USMLE tests since it covers the principles of medicine, and this is because it includes the most material.

Stage 2 is the name given to the second examination. It used to be divided into two sections: Clinical Knowledge (also known as CK for short) and Clinical Skills (also known as CS for short) (which is often known as CS for short). For the last several years, anybody interested in taking the Step 2 CS exam had no choice except to go to America, since it was not available anywhere else in the world. The OET (or OET for short) will be used to temporarily substitute for the Step 2 CS requirement in Medicine while the pandemic is still in progress.

Step 2 CK is a one-day examination that is similar to step 1, with the exception that it is more focused on clinical concerns rather than general knowledge. Eight one-hour blocks of instruction are broken down into two-hour halves with one hour of leisure time in between and an optional session, for a total of nine hours of instruction. There are Prometric centers all around the globe where you may take the examination. It will not be necessary for you to go to the United States in order to take this examination. This evaluation, in contrast to stage 1, is considered uncomplicated by the vast majority of IMGs, who report good outcomes.

If you want to administer Step 2 CK following or before the USMLE Step 1 test, that decision is completely up to you. It is not necessary to finish Step 1 before moving on to Step 2. Those who successfully pass these examinations will be granted the ECFMG certification title. When applying for residency in the United States, the ECFMG will ask you to provide this certification.

Consideration Before Attending Preparation for USMLE

This is a basic topic that everyone interested in advancing instruction in the United States should consider. Why do they really want to take the USMLE STEPs route instead of the traditional one? You need to be really honest with yourself. You are the one who will have to deal with all of the difficulties. Several of the below considerations can assist you in making your decision.

The training provided in the United States is among the greatest in the world. You will have the opportunity to work in one of the top healthcare in the world. You have the opportunity to work at world-class hospitals with internationally known professionals. You get knowledge of new procedures that are not accessible in your own nation. There are several options for you to advance in your profession.

When you are motivated to study, the possibilities are unlimited. Work-life balance is better in the United States than in most of our developing nations. The pay is excellent, particularly after you have completed your training. If you do not choose to permanently relocate to the United States, you may always return home to serve your people and build excellent healthcare institutions in your own country. However, there is a cost to everything nice.

prepare for usmle

The USMLE  Step exams are difficult, but they are attainable

Everyone else is passing them, and there is absolutely no mistake about it; all you need to do is maintain your concentration and persevere through the difficult times. For each test, you may be required to spend at least 4 to 6 months in your residence halls or bookstores, depending on the difficulty of the examination. You could not be working since preparing for a job will require more time than you have available. Program directors often believe that IMGs must have good test scores since graduates have the opportunity to prepare effectively for the job market.

As a result, you may feel a little down at times since your colleagues are continuing their postgraduate studies in your nation and earning money while you are merely sitting in the library or your room studying, which is normal and reasonable. “Patience is bitter, but it produces a delicious fruit,” as the saying goes.

The cost of the USMLE Step 1 might be fairly high

Step 1 exam fees are currently $985 at the time of writing. An international test delivery premium of $100 exists whether you are preparing for the exam outside of the United States and Canada in your home country. This fee amounts to around $1165, for a total of approximately $1165. Prices are subject to change, and you should check the official website for the most up-to-date information.

The current exam prices for step 2 CK are $985 plus a $200 international test delivery premium, for a total of $1185 when you are taking the exam outside of the United States and Canada. As a result, the test costs for two examinations will total $2350. The expense of ECFMG enrollment, the cost of study reading materials, the cost of online topic banks and assessments, and other expenses will push the total cost far beyond $3000. In terms of money, this is a significant figure, and it is sometimes difficult for students, particularly in underdeveloped countries, to come up with the funds.

Asking for independence

You may have to spend time away from your family, including your parents, siblings, and friends while undergoing training in the United States. You have the option to adjust your marital arrangements. These are also items that must be kept an eye out for. Please address all of these points with your families so that you can ensure that everyone is on the same page before proceeding with this trip together.

Job Potential

Occasionally, you may not be able to get the specialty of your choosing. In the United States, it is more difficult to get residency positions in surgical specialties such as orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, or neurosurgeons than it is to obtain residency positions in residency training, family practice, psychotherapy, pediatrics, or neurological specialties. Some of my friends have been accepted into surgery programs, therefore it is not impossible; nonetheless, it is something you should consider and keep in mind as you go.

Difficulty after completing the exam

What are your intentions for the rest of your time in the United States? Do you want to stay in the United States for the foreseeable future? Are you planning to return to your home country? Will you be relocating to another country? In the event that you must return to your home country, what choices do you have? Which hospitals will be able to fulfill your needs? These are key issues and plans to think about before determining whether or not to follow the USMLE program.

It is also likely that if you complete your training in the United States and return to your home country, your choices may be restricted since only a handful of the hospitals will be able to accept you; however, this varies from nation to country. 

In my view, the most significant benefit of taking the USMLE is for individuals who want to work and live in the United States after completing their residency training. They will have a healthy work-life balance, as well as a high salary, financial stability, and industry experience. For the others, the choice is personal, and they should think carefully before deciding to pursue the USMLE track solely on the basis of social pressure. This kind of peer pressure is frequent, and many individuals are unaware of it at the time. Because everyone is studying for the USMLE tests at the same time, you begin without taking all of these considerations into account.

prepare for usmle

USMLE Step 1 Application Process 

ECFMG registration

As a result of thinking about all of the above, you’ve decided to go the USMLE route. Now, allow me to assist you in realizing your goal of obtaining permanent residence in the United States. First, I’ll go through some of the essentials, including how to join the ECFMG. “Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates” is the acronym for ECFMG. Besides verifying IMGs’ credentials and ensuring that they fit the requirements for clinical background in the United States, it also offers a status report on the USMLE examination for international physicians.

Our main medical degree (M.D.) must be authenticated. You need to verify that your school is included in this ECFMG’s global directory of medical schools.

It is now required for you to register with the ECFMG if your medical school is included in the worldwide directory of medical schools. Creating an ECFMG account is generally the first step in the process. Check out IWA (Interactive web apps) on ECFMG’s website. You’ll need to create a new account and include all of your personal information, such as your name, address, and date of birth, as well as a passport-sized photo.

It’s a good idea to maintain your identification with you at all times to ensure that you fill out the forms correctly. ECFMG will send you an email with your login and password within 2-5 business days. Access to your account is also available. $160 is the cost. The ECFMG’s fees may be seen here. Form 186, which you may obtain from your ECFMG account, must be signed by either an attorney or an oath inspector once you’ve completed the online application.

This form serves as proof of identification. ECFMG will send you an email confirming your account’s authorization within 2-5 business days after you submit this form. To be eligible to apply, you must also have a degree in medicine or a diploma in medicine, whichever comes first. ECFMG Certification requires a medical degree, so check the requirements.

Verification of a Degree or Diploma

After that, the papers will be sent to your medical school, where they will be verified. Your medical school’s Dean or Principal must sign these papers. The ECFMG receives the papers and processes them. After ECFMG receives your papers, you should expect a response from them within 15 business days. For some, this may be a challenge. Your medical school has to verify and provide your paperwork in a timely manner if you want them to be accepted.

Since no one else at my medical school seemed to care about this, I had to do it on my own. When it comes to registering and verifying one’s credentials with the ECFMG, the procedure might be arduous. You should begin the procedure when you’re still in your country of residence, particularly if you want to attend medical school in the city where you plan to practice medicine.

Eligibility to take the USMLE 

After completing two years of medical school and registering with the ECFMG, you will be qualified to take the USMLE test.

Step 1 of the USMLE registration process

After registering with the ECFMG, you must complete the USMLE Step 1 enrollment application form. A cost of $1165 must be paid online if you present at a Prometric location outside of the United States or Canada. You may use a debit or credit card to make a payment online. One problem I had was that my credit card’s capacity was insufficient to cover the whole test amount. As a result, I’ve decided to pay the costs in three equal installments.

On the ECFMG site, there is a possibility to pay the cost in installments, and the total will be stored in your account until it is paid in full. Once you’ve saved up enough money, you may pay the charge. As an example, you may pay the charge in three equal payments, totaling between $1165 and $1165. You now have to pay them in order to submit an application for the test. As an IMG, I had a difficult time paying the cost at the time, and I felt it would be helpful to share my experience with other IMGs.

As part of the first-step registration process, you’ll be asked to pick a three-month time frame in which you want to take the test. Select the months that are most convenient for your planning and timetable. If you wish to sit for the exam in January, choose a three-month window from January to March so that if you aren’t ready by then, you still have time to sit for the test in February or March, if necessary.

This option is available if, at the conclusion of the three-month term, you are still unsure of your ability to sit for the test. USMLE rescheduling fees will still be charged (100$ if done 6-30 days in advance, 328$ if done 5 days or less before). This extension may only be granted once per user. This means that selecting a three-month interval while registering for the USMLE is critical.

Step 1 was formerly graded with a three-digit score. When it came to studying for exams, IMGs were notoriously slow. Some of my classmates studied full-time for almost a year to get high marks. With respect to the first stage, only pass/fail is reported by ECFMG. Changes in reporting might have both advantages and disadvantages. Getting a good Step 1 score is no longer as stressful, and you’ll save a lot of phases of the procedure.

Previously, IMGs had an edge over their American counterparts by obtaining high marks on Step 1 and Step 2 CK examinations. This benefit will no longer be available if you decide to apply for permanent residence in the United States. Extracurriculars, scientific papers, and time since graduating are all important considerations when applying for a residence in the United States. These include US clinical experience (externships, observerships, and electives), scientific papers, and time since graduating.

How to Prepare for USMLE Step 1?

Become acquainted with the syllabus

To begin your USMLE Step 1 preparation, the first thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with the USMLE Step 1 curriculum and examination process. As a result, it’s necessary to keep track of the curriculum. There are notifications on the official USMLE website about improvements in test administration software, the date of Step 1 tests, and access to new practice materials. As a result, regular visits to the USMLE website are recommended.

Try taking a look at the example questions offered on the USMLE website. It will give you a better understanding of how the exam is conducted. The test consists of single-best-answer questions in which the applicant must choose one of five answers. Examinees are tested on their capacity to recall and apply information, as well as their ability to analyze and comprehend visual, tabular, and other types of data in order to solve issues.

As soon as feasible, begin your preparations

It’s a good idea to start studying for the Step 1 test as soon as you start school. You may get a jumpstart on the preparation by taking this step. In addition, you’ll be able to attend your normal classes with an eye on studying for the Step 1 test.

Preparation for the USMLE Step 1 will take a long period due to the lengthy curriculum. It’s an eight-hour test with a lot of information to cover. In order to be prepared for such an attempt, you will need to put in enough time as you can.

Preparation for the USMLE test may be made easier if you schedule aside a certain amount of time each day to study for it. This will allow you to prepare for the USMLE Step 1 test in advance. This kind of evaluation will assist you in identifying your strongest and weakest points.

prepare for usmle

Resources with a high return on investment boost your chances of success.

 If you’re preparing for the USMLE, anything that has a high probability of appearing on the test is considered “high yield knowledge.” Teachers and mentors are excellent providers of high-quality knowledge. Because they have previously gone through all of these steps, they are equipped to recognize information that has the potential to provide large returns.

This isn’t the only thing that can aid you, however. Another one of these books is First Aid for the USMLE Step 1. You’ll perform better on the test and be better able to assist your patients if you’ve learned high-yield material. A list of high-yield information sources should be made for your preparation.

There is a slew of USMLE preparation resources available online. Traditional USMLE preparation methods include Kaplan and USMLE Works as well as the Pass Program and Beker. Experts suggest taking the USMLE within three to four months after completing your review course.

Optimize your learning schedule

Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles are all included in the VARK model, which divides students into four distinct categories. Most students were found to be auditory learners, whereas those in their final year and beyond favored kinesthetic learning, according to an NCBI research.

Not everyone will benefit from the same kind of educational approach. As a result, choose your preferred method of learning and tailor your study time to suit your needs. You’ll be able to better prepare for the USMLE Step 1 exam with this knowledge. There are other resources you’ll need to find that will assist you in better comprehending the material. Memorizing vocabulary, topic banks, and 3D atlases, for example, may assist students to prepare.

Accurate preparation is vital

Having a plan in place and adhering to it can help you complete your list of supplies. But if you can’t remember what you’ve learned, it won’t be of any use. Effective planning requires whole concentration on the subject at hand. Here are a few tips to help you get there.

  • Do not allow yourself to get sidetracked when studying.
  • Breaks may help students stay focused throughout long study sessions.
  • As a follow-up to the preceding suggestion, avoid taking breaks that are too frequent or prolonged.
  • In order to remain focused, you need to take care of yourself.

Practice makes perfect

Practicing for the Step 1 exam is much like preparing for any other test. The best approach to prepare for the USMLE examinations is to take practice questions. It is recommended to spend a large amount of time learning a specific subject followed by a practice exam. Practice exams may be found in a variety of places.

Analyze the outcomes of each practice exam to determine your weaknesses. You may then spend greater attention on the weak spots. You will also get more acquainted with the testing procedure by completing this experiment. As a bonus, it keeps you calm at the exam centers.

Students and professors alike suggest the practice examinations supplied by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). These practice examinations are designed to meet the requirements of the USMLE exams.

Recognize and stay away from preparation burnout

An emotional state of exhaustion and exhaustion are known as burnout and is described as a psychological phenomenon. Exhaustion, a loss of excitement, a rise in pessimism, and a drop in performance are just a few of the symptoms. Identifying and addressing burnout concerns early on is critical to your preparedness.

Preparing for the USMLE Step 1 exam may be challenging due to the volume of content that must be mastered. Candidates applying for the USMLE and medical school often find it difficult to do both at the same time. Preparation for the USMLE Step 1 examination is a must.

Identifying your objectives and the work required is a necessary first step. As a result, you’ll be less likely to get overwhelmed. Once you have a study plan in place, you may begin studying. Be aware of your physical and mental limitations, and take pauses as needed. It is possible to boost output while decreasing the likelihood of burnout if you are aware of your own limitations. Self-care is just as important as taking a break from work.

Don’t be afraid to seek assistance from your classmates or instructors if you’re having trouble preparing for a test. Also, be prepared to alter your daily routine in order to better prepare for the test. The sheer vastness of the curriculum might be intimidating. Plan beforehand and devote enough time to the test, and you’ll be able to get a high score. All you need to do now is familiarize yourself with the material, plan your study time, learn on the go, take practice exams, and fine-tune your approach. To prevent exhaustion, make sure to take pauses and regulate your routine.

Preparation for USMLE Step 2 CK 

For this test, “establish your notions” is the guiding principle. As a result of this examination, you will be tested on how well you can apply your principles in various circumstances. Your principal source of information may be a series of books, but you’ll have to clarify all of your notions by whatever means necessary, no matter what. You may use the internet, books, research papers, coworkers, or elders, whatever it takes, but make sure you have your notions straight. Period.

In about four months, I was ready for step 2 CK. In six weeks, I finished Kaplan’s series of books for the CK portion of the test. The Kaplan series’ medical book is outstanding and addresses most of the subjects thoroughly. The surgical book is smaller, but it’s sufficient for the test. In order to prepare for step 2 CK, I studied the Master the Boards (which is also popularly known as MTB for short) book. It took me two weeks to finish it. For test preparation, I used my go-to book MTB, which is easy to review in three to four days, and I made all of my comments there.

After that, I logged on to Uworld’s online question bank. In the same way that I practiced for the USMLE Step 1, I used the Uworld in a randomized and timed manner to gain a feel for the test. It took me roughly six weeks to finish Uworld. The finest explanations come from Uworld. By reading these descriptions, your ideas will become more clear. The world’s explanation must be read word for word and paragraph for paragraph with attention.

In the test and in real life, these are exactly the same topics that you will encounter. I used to store the photographs of Uworld explanations on my phone since they were so beautiful and educational. When I had some spare time, I would work on these photos. Whenever I read anything, I’d also go to Google and look for photographs related to it or radiological pictures may be included in these photos, depending on the nature of the condition.

Simple as that: make your thoughts crystal clear. In the actual examination, we see visuals that are like these. The more you encounter these photographs, the easier it would be for you to identify them. I felt confident since I had taken the Uworld self-assessment exams and had excellent results. A few days after finishing MTB, I sat for the test.

Above is everything you need to prepare for USMLE. Prep for USMLE is not easy at all.  Try your best and ace this test.

Don’t forget to take our free USMLE practice test at Medtutor to get familiarized with the format as well as the questions of the actual exam to strengthen your knowledge and skills, as a result, enhancing your chance to pass the USMLE exam with a high score on your first attempt. Good luck to you!