How to register for the USMLE Step 1, 2, and 3

Tyler York
how to register for the USMLE Step 1, 2, and 3

We all know that the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) takes a lot of preparation. Perhaps more than any other test out there. The big difference between the USMLE and all other licensing or qualifying exams is that you do not take it in one go. To get the medical license, you need to take and pass all three exams, or Steps as they are called, during your medical education and the first years of your residency.

The tests are stressful enough, and registration can become a little bit daunting, especially if you are a first-time test taker.

Since it involves three steps, you will need to register and schedule your test for each one. We’ve made it less stressful and more convenient for you to find all the information you need to register for the USMLE from Step 1 to Step 3.

Please take note that each step and requirements are essential and cannot be skipped.

how to register for the usmle step 1 2 and 3
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Registering for the USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK)

1. Register at NBME website

For students and graduates of schools accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) or the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), apply by logging into the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) website at https://apps.nbme.org/nlesweb/#/login

If you are a first-time user, click the first-time user link and enter your name, SSN, and information about your medical school.  The name you register with must be exactly how it appears on the ID you will present when you take the exam (e.g., driver’s license, passport).

2. Wait for your USMLE ID

The NBME will send your USMLE ID and a temporary password that you can initially sign in with via email. This can take up to a day to get sent. Keep your registered USMLE ID number because you will need it to register for the other exams later.

3. Sign in to the NBME website

Once you have your USMLE ID and password, log in to the website. You will be required to change your password for security purposes and easier recall. 

4. Apply for the USMLE

After successfully logging in, click Apply for the USMLE. Then click on New. Please carefully read the application instructions to avoid any errors. Then hit Next. Select the examination you are applying for; in this case, it is Step 1. Follow the instructions to complete your application. 

You will need to select a three-month period during which you would like to take the test. For example, from April 1 to June 30, 2021. You may choose a test date that is up to six months in advance.

This same step is repeated for applying for a permit to take the Step 2 CK exam. According to the USMLE website, if you meet the eligibility requirements, you may take the Step 1 and Step 2 CK exams in any sequence.

5. Pay the registration fee

Grit your teeth, open your wallet, and take out your credit card to pay the fee of $645 each for USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2 CK.

6. Wait for your scheduling permit email.

After the NBME receives and processes your application form, they will email you with your scheduling permit. The email will also confirm the three-month window you’ve chosen in which you can schedule your exam date.

This email will also contain instructions on making an appointment with a Prometric testing center.

7. Schedule a test date with Prometric

Step 1 and Step 2 CK exams are administered in the United States and Canada, and 50 other countries by Prometric. You can log in to their website at www.prometric.com to schedule test dates. Check the Prometric Test Center Locator for the latest information on schedules and locations of Prometric test centers.

doctors walking in hallway how to register for usmle
Photo by Luis Melendez on Unsplash

Registering for the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS)

Please take note that Step 2 CS exams are suspended until June 1, 2021. The administering bodies of the USMLE assess the best approach to conduct the CS exams without compromising the health and safety of both the examinees and test staff. You can check the USMLE website for updates.

1. Login at the NBME website

Same with Step 1 and Step 2 CK, you need to login to the NBME website to apply for the Step 2 CS exam. Since you already have a registered account with the NBME, just log in to your account and follow the instructions.

2. Check available test dates at the five Clinical Skills Evaluation Centers

Use the Step 2 CS Calendar and Scheduling system to check the available test dates at the five Clinical Skills Evaluation Centers in Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, and Los Angeles. This calendar is updated regularly to reflect the latest available schedules.

3. Pay the registration fee

The USMLE Step 2 CS fee will set you back $1,290, payable via credit card. Ouch. Just remember – it’s an investment in your future.

4. Wait for your scheduling permit and eligibility email

Similar to Step 1, you will have to wait for your confirmation email from NBME. Candidates who apply for Step 2 CS will be given a 12-month eligibility period. This period starts with the acceptance of the application form and verification of the candidate’s eligibility.

how to register for the usmle step 1
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Registering for the USMLE Step 3

Registration for Step 3 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination is a multi-step process that requires applicants to prove their eligibility before selecting a test date.

1. You must be eligible

There are two prerequisites to register for Step 3 of the USMLE. The first is you must have an M.D. or D.O. degree. The second is passing scores on the USMLE Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge, and Step 2 Clinical Skills exams.

2. Register with the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) website

Go to the FSMB website and log in to their Physician Portal at https://portal.fsmb.org/. If you are a new user, you need to create an account to access and proceed with the application. 

3. Submit CID and valid email address

You are required to submit a certification of identity form (CID) with your application unless you already have an approved CID on file with the FSMB, and it is not more than five years old. The CID form must be notarized. Make sure you also provided a valid email address for communication.

4. Pay the registration fee of $895 via credit card

This fee is non-refundable and cannot be used from one eligibility period or application to another. Your registration will be completed within 3-5 business days after submission of all requirements and payment of the registration fee.

5. Check your application status

Log in to the  Step 3 Candidate Website to check the status of your Step 3 application. You can also check the availability of your scheduling permit and score report before scheduling your exam.

6. Schedule your exam

You need your approved scheduling permit before you contact Prometric to schedule your exam dates. Please note that Step 3 is not administered on major holidays and the first two weeks of January.  

It is best to schedule your exam with Prometric as soon as you receive your scheduling permit to allow flexibility if you need to reschedule for any reason. Also, because the availability of testing slots is not guaranteed, and test dates are given on a first-come, first-served basis.

Registration for Non-US and Non-Canada Students and Graduates

If you are a student or graduate of a medical school that is located outside of the United States and Canada, you will need to register and apply for the Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 2 CS exams through the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) on IWA (Interactive Web Applications) website at https://secure2.ecfmg.org/emain.asp?app=iwa
For more information on fees, certification, exams, and support services needed, please visit https://www.ecfmg.org/fees/index.html.

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