USMLE Exam Retake: What To Do For The Second USMLE Attempt?

Lots of students fail the USMLE, so the USMLE exam retake is always a topic of interest. Follow this article for more beneficial information.

May 13, 2022

Every year, students from the nation’s top medical schools fail the USMLE’s first stage. Most of the top 25 U.S. medical schools send students our way, and we have helped many of them. IMGs and DO students may all fail the USMLE just as easily as their American-educated counterparts. There are ways to get a USMLE exam retake after failing the first time.

Failure to pass a difficult exam, such as the USMLE Step 1, might have serious ramifications. Before beginning the treatment again, it is difficult to get up and wash your teeth. Pessimistic thoughts may be robbing you of your joy. It seemed like they were the final things you would ever say to me. “Do I think this is it? Now that I’ve graduated, what will become of my student loan debt? Do individuals ever return to normal after an event like this? Are any outstanding residency programs still open to me at this point in my search?”

You’re not alone, and you’ll emerge victorious in the end. Most important to your success is how you deal with failure and what you do to boost your chances of success in the future. It’s now or never.

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Policy regarding USMLE reexamination and reapplication

There is a general USMLE regulation that states that applicants who have previously successfully approved a Step are not permitted to retake that particular Step. In the event that a medical licensing organization in the United States or another recognized authority sets a time constraint, there are certain exceptions to this rule. Further details may be found in the section below under “Time Limit for Completing Examination Requirements.”

Once you fail a Step, you will be required to retake the exam. You must reapply and pay the appropriate cost in order to do so. If you wish to take an exam during your assigned eligibility period, you must reapply and pay the appropriate fee. You may reapply at any time; however, ECFMG will not process and learn and grow a subsequent implementation for this test until at least 3 – 4 months after the completion of the eligibility period for the exam you did not take during your assigned eligibility period.

Amount of time allotted

When completing the USMLE program, an examinee is only allowed to repeat the same Step a maximum of four times. To be eligible to sit for any of the USMLE tests, a candidate must complete all 4 of the preceding Steps, even if they failed in the last attempt at completing them. Step 2 CS efforts that have already been administered are deducted from the total number of tries. You will get credit for all of your Step tries, regardless of when you take the exam.

For the purpose of issuing medical licenses in the United States, state medical licensing authorities may place a limit on the number of attempts that may be made to pass each of the Steps. Websites such as the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) give information on state-specific medical board rules and regulations.

Elapsed time in between examinations

The USMLE program has established rules governing the bunch of times you may take a Step and how many times you can repeat it. You may not take the same exam more than three times in a calendar year. After failing the exam a fourth time, you must wait for a minimum of 12 months between your first and most recent efforts to take it again. Attempts that were unsuccessful are mentioned in this section.

On the 15th of January, 2020, an examinee tried and failed Step 1 of the examination. On April 15, 2020, she tried but failed Step 1 of the process. She tried and failed Step 1 on September 15, 2020, and she will be eligible for Step 2. As part of his fourth attempt at Step 1, the applicant sought the qualifying period of March, April, and May in January 2021.

After her first attempt on January 15, 2020, and six months after her most recent attempt on September 15, 2020, the earliest possible date was March 15, 2021, which was both 12 months and six months after her first attempt. Due to the early start date of the March-April-May eligibility period, the applicant was only able to request the April-May-June eligibility period since the March-April-May eligibility period began earlier.

When you reapply, your qualifying period will be adjusted in order to ensure that you meet all of the criteria. When preparing for the exam, you must familiarize yourself with the editions of the ECFMG Information Booklet and the USMLE Bulletin of Information that correspond to the time period for which you are eligible.

Completion of exam requirements and exam deadline

It is required that you complete the ECFMG Certification examinations within seven years after submitting your application for ECFMG Certification. Your most recent USMLE passing performance will no longer be recognized if you fail to pass all of the examinations required for ECFMG Certification after seven years if you have not passed all of the exams necessary for ECFMG Certification. The ECFMG Certification Exam Requirements contain a time restriction for completion of the exam.

If you have passed a Step, it is possible to request an exemption from having to retake an exam that you previously passed but is no longer accepted for ECFMG Certification. It is possible that candidates may be denied the opportunity to retake a USMLE exam that is no longer legitimate under the USMLE’s regulations on attempt restrictions.

To get a license to practice medicine in the United States, state medical licensing organizations may impose time limits on the completion of the USMLE, which includes Step 3 (which is not required for ECFMG Certification) and other requirements. The Financial Services and Markets Bureau website offers information on state-specific rules. Please keep in mind that a medical licensing organization in the United States may provide an exemption to people who have previously taken and passed a licensure test. Additionally, the USMLE website has additional information.

Important information: You may only apply for an exemption if you have previously passed the exam for which you are applying. When you submit your application for the exam, you will be sent a list of all of the required requirements as well as for instructions. Prior to filing your test application, the board will not provide any exceptions to the reexamination conditions that have been established. Because of a time limitation, applicants who must retake a previously passed step should be mindful of the ramifications of giving a bad performance on the second attempt. See the Bulletin of Information for the USMLE for further information about retaking stages that have already been completed successfully.

Retake a step

You cannot retake any Step if you already have previously successfully passed it unless you meet particular state board conditions that have been granted by USMLE governance. When a medical regulatory board places time restrictions on the accomplishment of all steps, or when another USMLE-authorized entity requires higher criteria for a particular reason, it is feasible to repeat a previously completed step. In order to be eligible for credentialing in that jurisdiction, the medical licensing authority must provide proof that you are a candidate for the position, that you have met all of the requirements for licensure in that regulatory authority, and that you are good enough to qualify for licensing requirements, except for the out-of-date evaluation.

The number of retakes authorized to achieve ECFMG criteria is provided at the time of test application via the usage of ECFMG’s Interactive Web Applications (which is popularly known as IWA).

You may only retake the test if the necessary amount of time has passed after your first attempt. A medical licensing board may have put a temporal restriction on your eligibility to practice, regardless of whether or not you have passed the unanimous Step. If the following circumstances are satisfied at the time of submission and testing, an exception from this policy may be granted:

  • You are currently enrolled in one of the LCME- or COCA-accredited MD or DO degree programs.
  • You may have truly passed Steps 1 and 2 but failed Step 3; this is conceivable.
  • Students who have passed the Step 1 and/or Step 2 tests for medical licensure but have not yet finished their residency training are not eligible to receive their medical school diplomas.
  • In all other respects, you are entitled to repeat the test.

How to retake USMLE NBME tests?

usmle exam retake

Make contact with your school

If you fail Step 1, the first step is to contact your medical school to discuss your options. Don’t procrastinate any longer than is absolutely required. Phone conversations with colleagues and professors to notify them that you failed Step 1 might be uncomfortable, but they are vital. Despite the fact that each school has its own policy, the majority of them will reach out to you to help you in the following phases and give you whatever support you need.

The people who work at your school do not have a personal vendetta against you, and they have no desire to expel you for any reason. Anyone who has an advocate in their corner, and that advocate maybe someone you trust, such as an advisor, will benefit from having one. However, even if you had previously struggled with your schoolwork, the fact that your medical school has helped you during the first two years of your studies is a strong sign of the quality of your education.

Despite the fact that this is the first time you’ve had a Step 1 failure, I’m certain that your medical school has been there for you in the past.

There will almost certainly be practical difficulties in delaying clinical rotations and receiving authorization for a second attempt, but your school may be a helpful resource in assisting you with the planning and execution of your second attempt. If feasible, get these things going as quickly as possible at your school.

Another good surprise is that your mood will improve as a result of this treatment. It is never comfortable to be forced to deal with difficult circumstances. If you know that you have the support of others, it is probable that you will be more hopeful about the situation. Rather than pointing a finger at you, your school is there to lend a hand and provide assistance. Improve your self-esteem and overcome emotional barriers by following these steps.

Recalibrate your state of mind

There are dire repercussions if you fail to complete Step 1. There has been a lot of time and money invested in preparing for this one big exam over the last two years, and you’re confident in your abilities. Overwhelmed and worried are common reactions among those who fail the SAT or ACT the first time around.

However, a large number of students repeat the exam, improve their scores, and are accepted into residency programs in medicine. Acknowledging what happened and moving on will be difficult, but it is essential for your own well-being. Look for someone you can rely on and who will be by your side throughout this trying time.

If you are depressed or suicidal, you should get professional help immediately. Counselors, therapists, and psychiatrists are available to kids at many schools. Despite the fact that this may feel like a huge setback, keep in mind that you can and will conquer it.

Observe your performance on your previous exam

Your mind should not be dominated by thoughts of failure or failure-related thoughts. Set aside some time to think about your prior study efforts and make any necessary adjustments. Being really honest with yourself may help you to conquer your mental blocks. Examine what you learned the previous time you studied to determine if you can make any improvements. Whether they did not meet your expectations, determine if your utilization of them was the cause of the failure to deliver on those expectations.

It is possible that you should reconsider your insurance coverage. Have you completed UWorld yet? And did you look over all of the questions you got wrong when studying for this exam? Do you have any idea why you made such an apparent mistake? What do you think of your ability to do well on tests? Perhaps the stress of studying for and taking the USMLE Step 1 exam was the source of your anxiety.

As the first phase in your recovery, this is the most important since it allows you to discover any possible areas of weakness. Acknowledging that repeating the same tactic that failed the first time around would fail the second time around is half the battle won. If you accept responsibility for your present state of health, you will be better prepared for your retake of the USMLE Step 1 exam. You can accomplish greatness as long as you are open, honest, and willing to be vulnerable in your pursuit of it.

Make a request for assistance

It didn’t work out with your first approach to Step 1 because of the circumstances. In Step 1, seek out others who have achieved success and learn from them about what works for them. Then, seek their advice. Because medical schools are well-versed in their students’ academic successes, they may be able to put you in touch with upperclassmen who can provide you guidance on your studies. Some upperclassmen may have worked with children who have failed Step 1 in the past, and they may be able to share their experiences. Those are issues that your institution is well aware of.

While there is no one-size-fits-all technique for acing Step 1, there are several characteristics shared by people who do well on the exam. People’s responses to your questions will show trends, which you may then utilize to better prepare for Step 1 of the test, which is the first part of the exam. Continue to use the approaches that have been successful for prior students while discarding those that have proven unsuccessful for you.

Try out a variety of methods to help you learn

In the last section, we said that your first effort at Step 1 was unsuccessful. Exercising futility by repeatedly attempting the same thing is a waste of both time and resources. Several aspects of your performance need to be reviewed, including the resources you employed, your use of your question bank, and the manner in which you studied. It will be quite beneficial to have someone who has already studied for Step 1 on your team.

If you didn’t take any NBME practice exams prior to taking the first test, chances are you didn’t get a high enough score to advance to the second exam. Step 1 should not be repeated until you have successfully completed an NBME practice exam. According to my observations, a significant proportion of students who are on the verge of passing their NBMEs elect to try for a Hail Mary on test day. This was not a sensible choice. You should be prepared for the possibility that you will see precisely what you saw on the practice exams when it comes time to take the actual test.

Avoid common mistakes

Students who fail Step 1 often make the mistake of having an excessive number of resources at their disposal. The fact that there are thousands of commercially accessible Step 1 resources and that students feel they need a resource for every single topic that may appear on the exam is very rare. Rather than that, the opposite is true.

There just isn’t enough time in the day to go through the whole BRS series from beginning to end. Step 1 is dominated by topics such as physiology, pathology, microbiology, pharmacology, and biostatistics. Step 2 is dominated by topics such as genetics and statistics. Detailed information on this subject may be discovered by checking UWorld and Pathoma, as well as First Aid and BRS physiology, among other sources. You’ve discovered it!

Another typical error is for students to spend their time focusing on matters that aren’t important to them. Because they are inexperienced with the topic, a single UWorld explanation that alludes to the several anatomical locations of erythropoiesis in the fetus produces anxiety in these students who are unfamiliar with the subject. In First Aid, they devote the next hour to revising and refining the graph on fetal erythropoiesis, which they will rewrite as many times as required until they are satisfied with it.

The reality of the matter is that students are unlikely to come across a question on that topic in their Step 1 exam. Although it is possible that someone may answer this question, the degree of competence necessary will be rudimentary at the very least. If you want to know how valuable a given topic is, look at the number of queries you get about it. If you’ve got 6 of the 7 types of hypersensitivities incorrect so far, you should spend an hour learning about type 1.

Don’t rush

Try not to get into something without having a clear plan in place beforehand. Make sure you don’t speed through the next retesting. Please take your time. Through our assistance, hundreds of medical students have retaken Step 1 for the second or third time over the course of the previous eight years. The most prevalent mistake we’ve observed is that people hurry to the next take without taking the time to prepare for it first.

This is crucial, and we cannot emphasize how important it is enough. Please allow yourself the time necessary to acquire the right study tactics for this exam. Examine your educational and learning experiences to see if you are getting the most out of them. The most essential thing to remember is to thoroughly assess each and every wrong response you get. Furthermore, you must be aware of the reasons why the erroneous replies are incorrect and why the right response is accurate.

In order to get started, you must have a well-thought-out plan in place. Creating daily goals that are attainable and sticking to them is essential for personal growth and development. The moment you see your approach taking form, you’ll have the confidence to select another USMLE Step 1 examination date.

Following the setting of the date, the wheels will begin to turn much more swiftly than they already are. If you’re having problems keeping on track with your plan and being focused, seek tutoring assistance. It has been shown that reviewing questions with a tutor is really useful for many of our students. When it comes to tests, a tutor may be able to assist you in identifying your weaknesses and developing tactics for acing them.

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When should you schedule a USMLE exam retake?

If so, when are you planning to start? Everything we’ve spoken about so far is going to have a role. This question’s answer will be more obvious if you examine what went wrong on your last attempt.

Finding out how long it will take to find out what went wrong is crucial. Is there anything I can do for you? If you have any queries or issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Is it possible that you’re not grasping all of the material? Then you’ll need to work on your topic expertise. Consider the reasons why your application of the material fell short of what you believed you knew.

We believe in a step-by-step approach that has you assessing your strengths and weaknesses as you go along. Thus, NBME evaluations should be conducted every 1-3 weeks. To repeat the test and apply for residency, you must decide when you wish to do so. Using these tests, you can make sure that your development efforts are focused on the most critical elements.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you go through the process. Your revised test date will be based on a range of factors, including your present situation and desired exam score. After fundamental test-taking difficulties have been addressed, we often observe large swings in scores, such as from a 170 to a 200. When following these guidelines, keep this in mind.

A score of more than 180

You’ll need to devote an additional 4-5 weeks to study. Your medical knowledge isn’t quite up to date. Because of this, you need to be conscious of your limitations and work to overcome them before the test.

A score of about 170

Additional study time is required for this course. Your score may be improved if you put in the necessary time and effort. If you don’t have an instructor to guide you, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to guarantee that you’re focusing on the right topics and processes. All of the information necessary for your retake may be learned and retained with the help of a tutor.

A score less than 160

It’s recommended that you devote 10-12 weeks of study time to this project. As a consequence of your poor performance, you will have a more difficult time learning and remembering new material. Be honest with yourself if you don’t allow yourself to become discouraged. In addition, you must face the issues that need to be addressed head-on. If you want to be sure you’re going in the right direction, getting professional instruction is highly suggested.

Remember the purpose of your struggle

Understand that you are completely not alone at all and that it is possible to achieve your goals, as we have done for many other students in the past. If you take the necessary steps to position yourself for success, and, most importantly, if you trust in your own ability to succeed, you will have begun your path.

What you are is far more than your score. A minor portion of your entire obligations as a physician are represented by this responsibility. Think about what this test represents: a critical step on the way to a successful career in medicine. Be honest with yourself about what this exam means.

The USMLE is more than just a test; it is also a stepping stone to the medical profession. When you retake the USMLE, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re trying to achieve a certain result. Try to imagine yourself working as a doctor one day. Pretend you are a healthcare professional aiding individuals in their quest to recover and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Feel the delight you will have when you see their faces for the first time.

Furthermore, we know that students who put in the necessary effort to prepare for the USMLE enhance their clinical reasoning skills, which ultimately helps them become better doctors in the long term. Our students are ready to impress their attendance during clinical rotations, and they are also more prepared for the USMLE exam when they graduate. Improve your clinical abilities while studying for the USMLE by taking advantage of the chance throughout your study period.

USMLE exam retake may be physiologically, psychologically, and mentally exhausting. To make it through the second time, you’ll need considerably more willpower. The most important thing you can do is keep control of yourself and work extremely hard on a daily basis.

Let’s get started with our free USMLE practice test to pass the exam with a high score.