After the USMLE Step 1: What Now?

There’s a lot of great information available to help you prepare for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1. But you may be wondering what happens after all the studying (not to mention blood, sweat, and tears!) is behind you and you’ve taken the test.

What’s next after taking the USMLE Step 1? Results for computer-based Step 1 exams are usually available within three to four weeks after your test date. However, there may be delays, so you’ll want to allow at least eight weeks to get email notification that your score report is available. As with so many aspects of your medical school experience, preparation is key. Here are a few things to be ready for as you look ahead to life after taking the USMLE Step 1.

You might need a break after USMLE Step 1

After the exam, think about taking a brief vacation. Some of your classmates may take Step 1 and jump right into third year. But think about whether that’s the best route for you. A break could help you recharge and be ready to start rotations and classes feeling rested and renewed.

You may start clinical rotations

After you’ve taken the USMLE Step 1, you’ll head back to classes and will also begin rotations in hospitals and clinics. Many schools will have you start your third year rotations even if you don’t know your USMLE Step 1 score yet.

You may not get the score you want

What’s next if you don’t pass the USMLE Step 1?

  • Allow yourself time to deal with the bad news.
  • Remind yourself that there’s still hope. Every year, a certain number of people fail the test, take it again and pass, and go on to get excellent residency spots.
  • Contact your dean’s office as soon as possible to work with them on things like rearranging your clerkships.
  • Figure out why you failed on your first attempt, and seek methods of test preparation that work more effectively for you.
  • Make a study schedule and stick with it, and be sure to take Board practice exams.

If you don’t pass the first time, you can take the USMLE Step 1 exam up to three times within a 12-month period. Your fourth attempt must be at least 12 months after your first attempt and at least six months after your most recent attempt.

You can start on your next USMLE step

Set a date in your calendar and circle it to start studying for the next step, whether it’s Step 2 CK or CS or Step 3. Sticking to dates and scheduling is one of the top ways to score high and get the residency you want when the time comes.

What if you haven’t taken the USMLE Step 1?

The USMLE Step 1 is widely considered to require the most preparation of all the USMLE exams. Med schools with a more traditional program structure recommend taking Step 1 late in the second year. But since medical schools vary in their program structure, you’ll want to check with your school to find out when they recommend their students take the USMLE Step 1.
Whenever you do take the USMLE Step 1, our hats off to you. It’s a major milestone on the road to a successful medical career.