USMLE® Step 1 Exam Dates in 2022: Registration & Cost

Sophie Moran - Nov 04, 2021

It’s that time of the year when the thoughts and attention of thousands of medical students turn towards taking the USMLE® Step 1 exam. Aside from finding the best resources, creating a study plan, and trying to memorize the vast amount of information required for Step 1, there are some smaller practical steps that students need to think about, too. These include researching their eligibility, registering for the exam, and choosing an exam date, amongst others. 

To help you parse through it all, we’ve put together a handy guide based on the USMLE instructions that will shed light on some of the questions you may have. 

When can I take the USMLE Step 1 exam? 

Typically students take the Step 1 exam between their second and third years in medical school. However, since Step 1 is turning Pass/Fail on January 25, 2022, it looks like many students will write their Step 1 exam earlier in the M2 year than usual. 

Students who follow an untraditional curriculum typically take the test after they take their NBME® Shelf exams. It’s also possible to take Step 2 CK before Step 1, but this happens less often. 

The USMLE Step 1 exam is available to take for most of the year with the exception of major holidays. You can keep track of any test center closures here

Who is eligible to take Step 1? 

  • US & Canada MDs: Students officially enrolled in, or a graduate of, an LCME accredited medical school in the US or Canada who will receive an MD degree are eligible to take the Step 1 exam. 
  • US DOs: Students officially enrolled in, or a graduate of, a COCA accredited medical school in the US who will receive a DO degree are eligible to take the Step 1 exam. 
  • IMGs: Students officially enrolled in, or a graduate of, a medical school outside the US and Canada that is listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools and meets ECFMG eligibility requirements are eligible to take the Step 1 exam. 

Where do I register for Step 1?

Eligible applicants from US or Canadian schools can apply through the NBME application website. To get started, you must register as a first-time user. Once this is done, you’ll receive your USMLE ID by email. This is the ID you’ll use to register for future USMLE exams. 

You can then apply for the USMLE, select a new application, and choose your testing period. Following your application, the NBME will email you with your scheduling permit and the period in which you can sit the exam. You can then schedule your test date through the Prometric website.

How far in advance can I schedule my Step 1 exam? 

You can schedule your Step 1 exam through the Prometric website as far as six months in advance. When applying for the exam, you must select an eligibility period. This is the window in which you will take the exam. The eligibility period lasts three months. 

How much does it cost? 

The cost of registration is $645 (for students taking Step 1 in the US) which can be paid with a credit card. The application fee is nonrefundable. If for some reason you don’t sit the exam within your eligibility period, you’ll have to reapply with a new application. The eligibility extension costs $70.  

Will my Step 1 exam be affected by COVID-19? 

While Prometric centers and testing have largely returned to full capacity, you can keep an eye on any test center closures on the Prometric website here

According to the website, “a limited number of Prometric test centers will require candidates to present proof of vaccination in order to test.” You can learn more about the requirements of individual test centers here

When will I get my results? 

According to the USMLE, results for Step 1 are usually available within three to four weeks after the test date. However, it’s possible that it may take longer than this. If there is a delay for some reason, the USMLE states you should wait at least eight weeks before inquiring about your score. 

Once your report becomes available, you’ll be notified by email and can follow the online instructions to access it. 

Preparing for Step 1 

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to studying for Step 1, there are a few key points that apply to almost all students. Firstly, remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s important to build up your knowledge base steadily and consistently until test day. 

With that in mind, be sure to make the most of your dedicated study time, if your university offers it. You can use this time to pass through Qbanks such as AMBOSS to enhance your learning and practice your test-taking skills (the AMBOSS Exam Mode feature that replicates NBME exam-day conditions is particularly useful for this). 

You can also prepare for Step 1 with the AMBOSS Study Planner. With the planner, you can create a personalized Step 1 study plan that’s adapted to your schedule and learning objective. It only takes seconds to set up and it will identify the areas you need to focus on the most through the personalized analysis.