Step 1


Twin Cities contact

Scott Slattery

Duluth contact

Phyllis Lindberg


The two pre-clinical training years culminate in taking the first of your three licensing board exams. This first ‘Step’ exam can feel daunting given the shear breadth of information it covers as well as for its importance as a key factor in considering residency programs.

The resources, information, and C-Q-A recommendations below represent the collective input of staff and preceeding classes (check out the Words from the Wise) to help you build the best possible academic 'black bag' for success on Step 1.  All the best! 

Registration (NBME) Practice materials Prometric 

Content guide  Sample Exam (USMLE) 

Prometric Computer-based Testing Practice Opportunity

C-Q-A Preparation Model


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 192, and UM students have scored in the vicinity of 233-234 (on average).

Are there any Medicial School policies I should know about regarding Step 1?
There are 2 policies to be aware of: 1. Students are expected to sit for the exam by the first intersession period of year 3 (late August); and, 2. students can no more than 18 clerkship credits before passing the exam.

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 mid-February 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 window’ within which you plan to complete the exam;
  • Complete the CIF (Certificate of Identification) form and turn it into Scott Davenport (B614 Mayo Building).  He will affix your photo and submit the form on your behalf.  Once ‘verified,’ the CIF is good for 5 years – enough time to take all 3 exams in the Step sequence;
  • Verification – once the CIF is processed by NBME, they post prospective examinees to the School Registrar (Heather Peterson) for ‘verification;’
  • 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.