USMLE Introduction

Do you want to learn more about what it takes to become a physician? This site contains information for current and future medical students seeking a better understanding of the tests required to get into and pass medical school. Students who are currently in medical school must take the United States Medical Licensing Exam, or USMLE, in order to obtain a license to practice medicine. The USMLE is divided into three parts. This site contains information and resources for each step of the USMLE exam, as follows:

Step 1

Information on Step 1 includes an overview of the content that can be expected on the exam, which consists of seven sections of 50 questions each. The student will have one hour to complete each section. Step 1 covers various topics that fall under the area of basic science. The resources for Step 1 include a database of medical mnemonics, flashcards, test prep materials, and a discussion forum.

Step 2

The content of Step 2 of the USMLE is much more clinically oriented than that of Step 1. The USMLE Step 2 information provides an overview of the exam content as well as a list of study guides that provide students with a basic description of the content of each guide. Students can use these descriptions to determine which study guides will most benefit them. Step 2 resources include links to sites that can help student doctors with the clinical knowledge they will need to successfully pass Step 2 of the USMLE.

Students will also find the list of downloadable resources very helpful. The resources cover topics that are tested on the USMLE. Students can use these resources to help prepare for the exam.

Step 3

Step 3 of the USMLE is the final part of the exam. Step 3 will test the student's ability to work in an unsupervised environment. Students must apply their knowledge of biomedical and clinical science to manage and assist patients in an ambulatory setting as well as display their ability to handle some scenarios involving inpatient encounters. Because students will become independent physicians, it is crucial to ensure that students have obtained sound knowledge and practical skills that can be applied when treating patients.

This part of the exam will have two basic dimensions: the clinical encounter and the physician task. The physician tasks that students should be knowledgeable of include evaluating the severity of problems as described by patients, managing patient therapy, and exercising clinical judgment. Exam questions regarding clinical problems will include identification and control of diseases, especially those considered mainstream or high-impact.

USMLE Introduction

Students will be presented with questions in the form of vignettes. A clinical encounter will be presented and questions will take the form of multiple-choice as well as case simulation. Both types of questions will require students to make clinical judgments and decisions just as they will have to do when they become practicing physicians. Step 3 will contain little or no basic science, because the testing board assumes that basic science concepts have been adequately tested in Steps 1 and 2 of the exam. The clinical encounter will require the student to be able complete an initial workup, provide a continuing care plan, and intervene in urgent care situations.

In addition to the clinical encounter and physician task organization, the exam is further divided into two dimensions: normal conditions and disease categories. Questions that fall under the category of normal conditions will involve the basic concepts and general principles associated with normal growth and development. Questions in the disease categories dimension will involve diseases and disorders that affect individuals.

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Last Updated: 04/23/2014