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Attempt limit for USMLE examinations

Posted: June 20, 2012

Examinees who have made six or more attempts to pass a Step or Step component, including incomplete attempts, should be aware that all applications to register for additional attempts will not be processed unless they are submitted on or before December 31, 2012. This limit was first announced in August of 2011.

The effective date for the six-attempt limit depends upon whether an examinee has taken any Step or Step Component (including incomplete attempts) before January 1, 2012.

 Examinees who had NOT taken any Step or Step Component before January 1, 2012
If you did not take any Step or Step Component before January 1, 2012, the six-attempt limit went into effect for all exam applications that you submitted on or after January 1, 2012.

Example 1: On January 15, 2012, Examinee A submits his application for his first attempt at any Step or Step Component. The six-attempt limit is effective at that time for all Steps and Step Components and Examinee A will be allowed to take each Step or Step Component no more than six times, including incomplete attempts.

• Examinees who have taken any Step or Step Component before January 1, 2012
If you have taken any Step or Step Component (including incomplete attempts) before January 1, 2012, the six-attempt limit is in effect for all exam applications that you submit on or after January 1, 2013.  After that date, all attempts at a Step or Step Component will be counted toward the limit, regardless of when the exams were taken.

Example 2: Examinee B’s application for a seventh attempt at a particular Step or Step Component is received on December 15, 2012. For this examinee, the six-attempt limit will not prevent the seventh attempt, since the application was submitted before January 1, 2013.  However, if Examinee B fails the exam, he will not be eligible to submit an application after January 1, 2013 to retake that Step or Step Component.

Example 3:  Examinee C attempts to submit an application for a seventh attempt at a particular Step or Step Component on or after January 1, 2013. The application will not be processed, since all exam applications submitted on or after January 1, 2013 will be subject to the six-attempt limit.


Please refer to the 2012 Bulletin of Information for more complete information on time and attempt limits.



State board sponsorship for Step 3 discontinued

Posted: October 14, 2013
Updated: October 22, 2014

With the introduction of the restructured Step 3 examination in 2014, the USMLE program no longer requires examinees to apply for Step 3 under the eligibility requirements of a specific medical licensing authority.

All other Step 3 eligibility requirements (i.e., medical degree, passing Steps 1-2, ECFMG certification for IMGs) remain applicable, as do all other USMLE program requirements (e.g., no more than 6 attempts at a Step or a Step component).

Note: Removing state board sponsorship as part of the Step 3 examination application does not impact medical licensing requirements in the United States. Most medical licensing authorities have, and will continue to maintain, specific criteria for completion of the USMLE, such as time and attempt limits. A summary of these requirements can be found on the Federation of State Medical Boards website.

At this time, there are no plans for the USMLE program to impose a minimum residency training requirement as part of the Step 3 eligibility criteria. However, the USMLE program will likely continue to recommend that individuals take Step 3 at or near the completion of the first year of residency training.


A message about the Ebola outbreak for individuals scheduled to take USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS)

Posted: October 21, 2014

The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued travel notices for several countries in connection with the Ebola Virus outbreak.   For the most current information concerning affected countries, please see http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/ebola.

If you reside in or have recently traveled to any country subject to a travel notice, or if you might have come in contact with anyone with Ebola, and have concerns about your health and/or the health and safety of those with whom you might come in contact, you are strongly encouraged to contact your registering entity to reschedule your Step 2 CS examination, at no additional fee. Contact information is available at http://www.usmle.org/bulletin/communicating/.


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