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USMLE Step 1

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USMLE Step 1


  • USMLE Step 1 tests your knowledge of the basic medical sciences. Though the content of this exam is predominantly fact-based, most questions are now given in the context of a clinical scenario. The format of these questions is multiple-choice (MCQ) based, with only one correct answer to each question.
  • USMLE Step 1 is a one-day computer based test. It is administered over 8 hours and consists of 350 Multiple choice questions (MCQs) in total.
  • These 350 questions are divided into seven blocks. The time given to complete each block of questions is 60 minutes.
  • Your total break time (including lunch) for the Step 1 exam is 60 minutes. You can split this break time as you wish and use them in between blocks to go to the restroom, have lunch or just get a breath of fresh air.



  • The test is given continuously, through out the year. U.S. medical school students usually take USMLE Step 1 in their second or third year.
  • If you are an International Medical Graduate (IMG), it is advantageous for you to take this after completing your medical school. You will be able to recognize the clinical scenarios given in the question better, after you graduate.


Minimum USMLE Step 1 pass scores

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  • The minimum score to pass the USMLE exams is 75 on the two-digit scale. To achieve a minimum score of 75, you must answer about 60 to 70 % of the questions correctly.
  • The two digit minimum pass score of 75 does not change. The two digit score is calculated so that a score of 75 will always correspond to the minimum passing score (even if the three digit score changes).
  • The two digit score is provided to fulfill the score reporting requirements of various state medical licensing boards.
  • USMLE has recently clarified that the two digit score is NOT a percentile contrary to popular belief for decades. Thanks for clearing that USMLE & ECFMG folks!
  • The three digit minimum passing score may change from time to time. You are advised to check the USMLE website periodically. The current three digit minimum pass score for USMLE Step 1 is 188.
  • The three digit score scale: Most scores on this scale fall between 140 and 260. First time exam takers (from US Medical schools), usually have a mean score of 200 to 220.


  • It is in your interest to get a good USMLE score. This increases your chances of getting into a good residency program.
  • A good USMLE score also helps you get a residency spot in the highly competitive specialties like Radiology, Orthopedics and Dermatology.

USMLE examination results & Scores from prior years

Minimum Passing Scores on USMLE Step Examinations

  • The requirements for passing the USMLE Step examinations are reviewed periodically. Notice of such reviews and the results of these reviews will be posted to the USMLE website.
  • There are two scales on which USMLE results are reported, a three-digit scale and a two-digit scale. On the three-digit scale, the current minimum passing scores are as follows:

Examination Minimum Passing Score

  • Step 1 185
  • Step 2 CK 184
  • Step 3 187: from 5/1/2008
  • On the two-digit scale, the minimum passing score is always a 75.
  • Performance on Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) is reported as a pass or fail only, without a numerical value.
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