What is USMLE? How You Can Complete USMLE Step 1?

The USMLE Step 1 is a form of test which the student has to give away in the second year of medical school. It is designed just to assess your understanding and overall ability to apply the basic core concepts of the topics related to sciences.

Most of the topics are related to those subjects which the candidate has studied in the first and second year of medical school. Your overall ability, which will enable you to pass Step 1 will ensure that how competent you are related to the knowledge of medicine for future study. Hence this is known to be among a few of those major tests which are arranged for the doctor-in-training.

List of Subjects Covered in USMLE Step 1

Below is the list of subjects which are covered in the test pattern of USMLE test 1:

  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy
  • Pathology
  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Biochemistry
  • Behavioural sciences

What is the paper format of USMLE Step 1?

The whole question paper of the USMLE step 1 is based on the multiple-choice questions in which some knowledge and reasoning based questions are also included. Plus, the testing questions will also require you to perform a few of the tasks mentioned below:

  • Interpret graphic & tabular material
  • Identifying gross & microscopic pathologic or normal specimens
  • Application of basic science knowledge towards clinical problems

Step 1 Breakdown: Complete Content Covered

  • 25-35% is based on the General Principles
  • 65-75% is based on Individual ■■■■■ Systems

USMLE Step 1 Basics: Format and Content Breakdown

  • nervous/special senses
  • skin/connective tissue
  • musculoskeletal
  • respiratory
  • cardiovascular
  • gastrointestinal
  • renal/urinary
  • reproductive
  • endocrine
  • immune

Overview of Processes of USMLE Step 1

  • 20-30% of Normal Structure & function
  • 40-50% of Abnormal processes
  • 15-25% over Principles of therapeutics
  • 10-20% Psychosocial and cultural, occupational, & environmental considerations

USMLE Step 1 makes the usage of various test formats over its questions. This normally includes:

  • Single One Best Answer

This sort of test question format has been based on the traditional format, which is used in almost all types of tests. There is a possibility of a question, and just one correct answer has to be chosen. 

  • Sequential Item Sets

Hence the Patient vignettes are based on the process of go-to test question format where the maximum of your tests is to be out. Vignette will be providing a complete story related to the patient, which is somehow followed by two or more questions.

In short, Sequential Item Sets are multiple questions that are following a series of vignettes. The best tip is to concentrate. When you are reading through any question, you should, first of all, formulate the whole question and then read the available answers to figure out the best one. It is possible much that the answers will play a trick on you and will move you in the wrong direction.

How long is USMLE Step 1?

This test is based on 280 test questions, which are in multiple-choice form outlooks. They are all divided into the time duration of seven 60-minute blocks within the time frame of 8 hour day. This normally means one question you can contribute with almost 1-2 minutes.

How can you successfully prepare for USMLE® Step 1?

If you want to successfully prepare yourself for Step 1 then it is important too, first of all, prepare yourself for the Step1 questions. It has been a proven fact that as much you will pay attention to unique questions, the more it will help you to score at a high level. So it is important to do maximum questions.

Plus, you must start studying on an early basis. It would be rather the best option if you will start off studying rather than waiting for the questions to appear in front of you. Even if you are giving wrong answers, you are acquiring a chance where you can learn more.

Apart from it, you should be paying attention to the high-yield content review. This means that you are not just preparing for the exam questions, but you are also concerned about your weak points as well. As you get to know about your weak points, you can all over again make your way back to the question to gain a better understanding.

Strategies for Successfully Answering All Questions

Well, there are no such specific tricks which you can imply for answering the questions. If you want to score high, then the best rule is to practice as much as you can. There are basic strategies that you can follow for scoring high on the test. Even if you are answering wrong, don't worry about it because it does not give you any negative marking at all. You should never be leaving your question all blank.

There are some of the questions which will merely be answered all through the reasoning skills and medical knowledge all alone. You can also imply the strategy of management as well. Few basic tips to follow over time management are:

  • You should always answer when you feel that you have enough information
  • Read the question carefully before you read the specific information
  • You should not be reading out all the lab values as by default.
  • Highlight much sparingly.
  • All the questions have the score marking of 1 point
  • If you are unsure, then choose that option which is familiar and much related to.


When it comes to the main test day, have faith in yourself, and show high confidence. You should not be hesitating to even answer some wrong questions because this is the point when you will learn what the USMLE test is all about. You should have a basic knowledge of all the medical subjects which you have studied before.

Take Help from Dr Najeeb Lectures

If any of your concepts related to medical and health subjects are not clear, then you can take immediate and best help from Dr Najeeb's lectures. His lectures are available online and are related to the subjects of basic sciences, medicine, and health sciences. All his lectures are presented concisely and comprehensively.