How long is Step 1 (how many questions)?

Examinees have 8 hours to complete seven (7) 40 item question blocks.

What is a passing score for Step 1 and how well have UM students generally performed?

Passing score for Step 1 is 194, and UM students have scored in the vicinity of 231-233 (on average).

What are considered to be the essential preparation materials for the Step 1 exam? [UFAPS]

There are numerous preparation resources and materials available for Step 1 and it is well known that there is no ‘one size fits all’ for students. Make time to explore resources to identify those that best fit your approach and needs for the exam preparation.  This said, one general guideline to get started is the UFAPS approach. This represents: UWorld, First Aid, Pathoma, and Sketchy Medicine (Micro).

Where would I likely take the Step 1 exam?

NBME contracts with the Prometric testing centers to administer their computer-based exam. There are 2 primary Twin City centers in Bloomington and Woodbury, and one in Duluth.  Other commonly-used locations are in Rochester, MN and those on the state border with Iowa, S. Dakota, and Wisconsin.

When would I likely take the Step 1 exam?

The majority of students take Step 1 in one of two waves:

  • 1st wave: Last week of May, first week of June. Students typically begin dedicated study and review (DS/R) in mid-April and continue for 6 weeks throughout the first clerkship period in Summer term;
  • 2nd wave: Mid-August. Students complete clerkships throughout the first 2 blocks of the Summer term before beginning DS/R by the end of June. DS/R then extends into August for the testing date.

Are there any Medical School policies I should know about regarding Step 1?

There are 2 policy considerations to be aware of: 

  • Students are expected to take and pass USMLE Step 1 before the end of their first term of the clinical phase. 
  • In the case of a failing score, students may be granted up to one additional semester to retake Step 1 and receive notification of a passing score before being permitted to continue in the clinical phase.

What steps are needed to sit for the Step 1 exam?

  • Students commonly begin the registration process in Nov/Dec of year 2 (earlier for students thinking of seeking testing accommodations). There is a year 2 January deadline for applying to take Step 1;
  • Start by creating an account with the NBME and paying your exam fee;
  • Choose a 3 month ‘eligibility period’ (EP) within which you plan to complete the exam;
  • Complete the CIF (Certificate of Identification) form and turn it in to your academic advisor [or Scott Davenport (1460 Mayo Building)]. They will affix your photo and submit the form on your behalf. Once ‘verified’ (see below), the CIF is good for 5 years – enough time to take all 3 exams in the Board Step sequence;
  • Verification – once the CIF is processed by NBME (takes about 1-2 weeks), your application (and that of other prospective examinees) will be posted to the School Registrar’s (Jennifer Neufeld) notification board for ‘verification’ (completed weekly);
  • Permit to test – once ‘verified’ by the registrar, NBME sends out a testing permit for use in scheduling a test date via the Prometric testing centers.

I receive testing accommodations for my Medical School exams – what do I need to do to pursue accommodations for Step 1?

  • Start early … the review process for Accommodations through NBME can be protracted, so it’s best to allow ample time to submit request materials and wait for a response;
  • Contact Barb Blacklock in the Disability Resource Center (DRC) by late summer or early Fall to discuss planning for your request.  Ms. Blacklock has considerable experience working with medical students for this purpose and will be an asset in facilitating your request process;
  • To seek Accommodations, you will first need to pay the exam fee – given that this may be a month or two earlier than most students (Sept/Oct), incorporate this consideration into your financial planning efforts.