USMLE Guide Part 1

Okay, so I promised that this blog would be a venue to help future IMGs in applying for the USMLE. I would be relating things the way my girlfriend and I did it so hopefully, you won’t encounter any problems as well. I will also be doing this by parts (hence Part 1) because obviously, I’m not matched yet and will be blogging along the way. So for anyone reading this NOW (October 7, 2014) and applying NOW, I guess this post won’t be much of a help. Also, this guide is intended for medical school graduates. I’m not sure how the application goes for those who are currently students. Anyway, here goes:

First of all, know if you really want to take the USMLE. It will cost you a lot of money (Around $3500)! You probably would want to prepare for it very well so it will also eat a lot of your time. If you are convinced in taking the exam, then read on!

  1. The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) serves as the “dean’s office” for International Medical Graduates (IMGs). This is where you apply for the exams, get certified and get tokens for residency application. You can visit their site here.
  2. You have to set up a timeline. Important dates to remember are:
    1. July (year) = Release of Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) tokens
    2. September (year) = ERAS sends out residency applications to different programs; National Resident Matching Program registration
    3. October (year) to February (year +1) = Interview Period
    4. March (year +1) = Match Day
    5. July (year +1) = Start of Residency
  3. After you have set up your timeline, go to the ECFMG website and register to get an ECFMG ID Number. It takes about 10 days to process and will cost you about $65. After you get your ECFMG ID, you then get to apply for the USMLE Steps. Read the latest ECFMG Information Booklet before proceeding!
  4. Prepare your wallets because application for the exams are painfully expensive. For Step 1 and Step 2 CK, you must spend about $1000 and for Step 2 CS, you spend about $1400. Check the fees here.
  5. After applying for an exam (it doesn’t matter which exam), you get to print your Form 186. This form serves as your “identification form” and must be signed in front of a medical school official. You must then also print:
    1. Form 187 (checklist form)
    2. Form 344 (credentials form)
    3. Form 345 (records release form) x 2 copies
  6. Follow the instructions on all forms and mail all of them together with 1 passport photo (with name and ECFMG ID on the back), 2 copies of your diploma and 2 copies of your transcript of records to IWA, ECFMG, 3624 Market Street, 4th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19104-2685 USA. As for our case, we submitted 1 passport photo with 2 certified true copies of our diploma and 1 original copy of our transcript of records.
  7. After ECFMG receives your forms, it can take up to 3 weeks for them to process everything. If everything goes well, your Form 186 will be marked as valid and is good for 5 years. Your USMLE Step applications will then be approved and you get to receive your test permits.

Well, that’s all for now. Currently, we have registered for Step 1 and Step 2 CS. So far, we only have received our Step 2 CS permit and we have already scheduled our test on May 8, 2015. We are still waiting for our Step 1 permit and we have yet to apply for our Step 2 CK (regenerating our funds first). For now, we study while waiting. God bless! ^_^

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