Before we jump into the information on how to schedule USMLE exams, it is crucial that you understand what USMLE is. The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a medical licensure examination in the United States. This examination is sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). USMLE consists of three parts: Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3.

USMLE Step 1 examines the basic knowledge of your medical science; Step 2 checks your clinical knowledge and clinical skills while Step 3 is the final examination and it puts more emphasis on how you can manage a patient and ambulatory setting which is essential for the unsupervised practice of medicine.

The USMLE examination is a must for both US medical graduates and international medical graduates who wish to practice medicine in the American soil. 

Where should you Apply

Wondering where to schedule USMLE exams? Here are several ways on how and where to apply for USMLE exams depending on your status as a medical graduate.

You must, first, apply through the required registration entity as illustrated below. 

For Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 2 CS:

For the United States and Canada medical graduates of LCME-or AOA-accredited medical programs application is done through the NBME on NLES (NBME Licensing Examination Services)

For International medical graduates, the application is done through ECFMG on IWA (Interactive Web Applications)

Step 3:

This is the final examination that is taken by the US graduates and international medical graduates who have passed Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 2 CS. You apply and manage your application through FSMB. The international medical graduates must also be certified by ECFMG first before they can apply.

Here are things to consider before applying to ECFMG for your examination:

  • International medical graduates’ must complete the application for ECFMG Certification. The application should also include the notarized Certification of Identification Form (Form 186).
  • ECFMG must accept your application for ECFMG Certification together with the notarized Form 186.
  • Read the newest editions of the ECFMG Information Booklet and the USMLE Bulletin of Information.

What You Need for the Application Process

There are two ways you can schedule your USMLE exams. Manual application, that is, ‘paper application’ and the electronic application. The paper application is very tedious and time-consuming hence, we will not be discussing it here.

The electronic application is easier and faster. All you need is a computer, internet access, and a working email address.   

Applying for ECFMG Certification (for IMGs)

USMLE requirements, how to schedule your usmle examThis is the first step that will help you get an Identification number and a one-time password that you can change later. The ECFMG Certification application is available through ECFMG’s Interactive Web Applications (IWA). It consists of an online application and a Certification of Identification Form (Form 186). Follow the instructions included in the form and complete your application.

Here is a guide on how to apply for ECFMG Certification:

The most critical part of the Application for ECFMG Certification is confirming your name, date of birth, and gender in your ECFMG record. If this information is incorrect, you must have your ECFMG record changed to reflect your correct name date of birth, and/or gender before you can complete the Application for ECFMG Certification. Instructions on how to correct the said information will be provided at the time of application.

For international medical students

If you are an international medical student, you will be required to confirm that the medical school that you are officially enrolled in meets the ECFMG eligibility requirement and that it is listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools (World Directory). It is also mandatory to confirm that the “graduation years” in the ECFMG note in your medical school’s World Directory listing are “Current.”  If you are already an international medical graduate, you will be asked to confirm that you are a graduate of a medical school that is also listed in the World Directory and that your graduation year is included in the ECFMG note in your school’s World Directory listing. For more information, see Medical School Requirements.

Confirming your understanding of the purpose of ECFMG Certification and accepting certain legal claims is also a requirement for the Application for ECFMG Certification. Another important reminder is that the information submitted in your application will become a part of your permanent ECFMG record.

Once you have completed filling out the application for ECFMG, you need to pay $125 for the Application for ECFMG certification. The ECFMG will receive your application form and verify it. They will then send you a USMLE/ECFMG Identification Number and password which you can change later after a couple of weeks. Be patient as there are many applicants. If all goes well, you will schedule USMLE exams in a few days.

 What to do when you fail to get ECFMG

Sometimes you may submit your application and fail to get an ID or password, despite completing your application correctly. At other times the ECFMG may fail to send the one-time password and only provide the ECFMG identification number. This means that you cannot access your account. When that happens, don’t panic! Here is what you should do.

It is advisable not to send an E-mail to ECFMG. The best thing to do is to call them up at the phone number provided on the ECFMG website. It is cheaper to call through Net-to-phone or Skype than standard calls.

processing usmle schedule, what to do if you can't schedule your usmle exam

Applying for USMLE Examination 2019 and Application Fee

Once you have been sent a USMLE/ECFMG identification number and set your password, visit then:

  • Select Online Services
  • Select IWA – Interactive Web Application.
  • Enter your USMLE / ECFMG ID number and password to access your ECFMG account.

Select the step of USMLE you want to apply for using IWA (Interactive Web Application) – you will see an elaborate form that you will need to fill out correctly. Pay attention to eligibility period and only select eligibility period that you are sure will work for you. You will need to make your payment at the end of the form.

 The cost and time frame are as follows;

Step 1 $630 Eligibility periods will run for 3 months starting from November 1, 2018 – January 31, 2019 and ending October 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019
Step 2CK $630 Eligibility periods will run for 3 months starting from November 1, 2018 – January 31, 2019, and ending October 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019
Step 1 and


$70 Extension for Eligibility Period (requests received starting January 1, 2019)
Step 2 CS $1,290 For completed applications received starting January 1, 2019.
Step 3 $850 The target date for reporting scores for examinees testing in January and February 2019 is Wednesday, March 27, 2019.


What to pay attention to?

  1. Indicate whether you have a physician’s license that you received from U.S. medical licensing authority specifically the one from the state whos exam you want to take.
  2. Pay attention to the three months eligibility period. During the first two weeks of January and for major holidays USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK are unavailable.
  3. If you are not a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident holder you have to obtain a US visa to sit for the exam.
  4. Make sure you give accurate information about the date and place of birth, gender, valid contact information, nationality, passport number, ethnicity, present employment, Medical education status, Medical school information, and native language.
  5. You should also know that the USMLE exam can`t be done more than 3 times in a year. Students can redo the exam up to 6 times.
  6. You can take Step 1, Step 2 (CK) and Step 2(CS) in any sequence.
  7. Students with special conditions or disability may request accommodations. It’s not guaranteed you will get it since USMLE has a history of being very strict in approving such requests.


Even though there are no specific steps to pass this exam, to increase your chances of passing you should work hard and remain positive. GOOD LUCK!

Do you have any problems while applying for USMLE exams? Let us know in the comment section below.