What is the USMLE® Step 1?

The United States Medical Licensing Examination is not just another test – it’s much more.

Unlike other knowledge-based exams, the USMLE thoroughly assesses how well you can apply your skills, values, and attitudes to real life, patient-centered scenarios. Not only is it valuable practice for you as a future physician; it shows licensing authorities how you will operate on the job, both on and off the table. Now put on those mental scrubs and show them what you’re made of.


The USMLE Step 1 is a one-day computer exam taken by most medical students at the end of their second year of medical school. It is also taken by thousands of international medical graduates (IMGs) who wish to practice medicine in the United States. The Step 1 includes no more than 280 multiple-choice questions and spans 8 hours of testing, broken down into seven 1-hour blocks of 40 questions each.

The USMLE Step 1 emphasizes basic science principles, specifically anatomy, behavioral science, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. Interdisciplinary areas such as genetics, immunology, and nutrition are also tested.

The test is administered by appointment on a year-round basis. When planning your USMLE prep, factor in 6 to 9 months for Step 1 review.

Register for the USMLE Step 1


Let our expert teachers be your guide with a prep course that fits your schedule. No matter what stage of USMLE prep you’re in, Kaplan can help raise your score.