United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)

The United States Medical Licensing Examinations (USMLE) are the only avenue to medical licensure in the United States. Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge, and Step 2 Clinical Skills are administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). Step 3 is administered by the medical licensing authority of each state. Scores of each examination taken become part of the student’s academic record. The release date of scores is determined by the NBME. The expected time period for the NBME to report scores to students after the Step 1 or 2CK examinations is generally 3 to 4 weeks. Achievement of passing scores on the United States Medical Licensing Examinations is not a substitute for achievement of passing grades in courses, clerkships or rotations.

The student is responsible for completing the online application, paying the examination fee and bringing the Certification of ID form to the Registrar's Office for certification (applies only to Step 1). Processing of applications by the NBME can take up to 4 weeks and will result in a “scheduling permit." The “permit” will be emailed to the student and it is required for then scheduling the specific date and location of the examination with Prometrics test center. It is advisable to send the completed application as early as possible as test dates are assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis. However test dates at Prometrics only open up 6 months in advance of the exam date. Students with questions regarding the Step 1 and 2 application process should contact the Registrar’s Office.

Step 1

Step 1 must be taken after second year courses end and before starting the Core Clerkship phase of the curriculum. Step 1 must be passed before a student is promoted to Advanced Clerkships phase of the curriculum. MD/PhD students are required to take the exam before leaving for the Sackler School to begin their PhD. A student must pass Step 1 within 3 attempts and within 2 years after the completion of second year courses.

If a student does not take the exam by the set deadline, and therefore does not start Core Clerkships, the student must take a leave of absence for one year with an approved Step 1 study plan.  The exam must be taken by December 31 of that same year.

Students who have not passed Step 1 upon completion of the Core Clerkship phase will be reported to the SEPC for review of their entire academic record. After review of the student’s academic record, the committee will make a decision which may include, but is not limited to, discontinuation of the clinical program until the student has passed USMLE Step 1. These students will not be promoted to Advanced Clerkships and will take time off to strengthen basic science preparation and retake the examination. The examination is retaken prior to resumption of the clinical program. If there are extenuating circumstances, an appeal may be made to the committee. The student will also be advised to contact the Office of Student Affairs for guidance and support.

Step 1 Remediation/Independent Study

A student who has failed the Step 1 exam may be advised or required by the Dean of Students or the Associate Dean of Students to take additional time either in either a formal Step 1 Boards Preparation (e.g. Institute for Board Prep) course or a full time structured Independent Study to prepare for the exam retake. Additionally, when circumstances warrant it, the Dean of Students or Associate Dean of Students may approve a student who has not failed the Step 1 exam for participation in the Step 1 Independent Study program.

As part of this academic plan, students may be approved for up to 8 - 12 weeks (full time) of Step 1 Independent Study. Students approved for this academic plan are considered enrolled full time for the period of the Independent Study. Ordinarily, it is expected that a student will participate in only one Step 1 Independent Study program.

Step 1 Boards Preparation Course

Students who are approved to pursue this plan must complete the Step 1 Independent Study Registration form, obtain the required signatures, attach any required supporting material (proof of course registration), meet with the Associate Director of Academic Support and submit the form to the Registrar’s Office at least one month before the start of the program.

Step I Independent Study

Students who opt to do the full time structured Independent Study must complete the Step 1 Independent Study Registration form, obtain the required signatures, attach any required supporting material, meet with the Learning Specialist, select an Independent Study monitor and submit the form to the Registrar’s Office at least one month before the start of the program. The student is required to put forth a plan that has a minimum of 35 hours/week of studying/exam taking preparation.

Tuition Information

In a given semester, a student who takes a clerkship before pursuing the Step 1 Independent Study will be charged full tuition and the usual fees. Students who do not take a clerkship but go directly into the Step 1 Independent Study at the start of a semester, will be charged the Continuation Fee. If the student is  eligible  to  take  clerkships  later  in  that  semester  and  opts  to  do  so,  the Continuation Fee will be rescinded and full tuition will be assessed.


The Independent Study will be listed on the student’s schedule and upon completion a designation of ‘Cr” (credit) will be recorded.

Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) and Clinical Skills (CS)

Tufts University School of Medicine requires all students to sit for Step 2 CK and CS in order to be eligible to graduate. Students are required to take Step 2 CS exam by October 15th and Step 2 CK exam by November 1st of their fourth year. Students with extenuating circumstances who wish to schedule a testing date after the deadline must contact the Dean for Students or the Associate Dean for Students for consideration of an exception to the policy. Students entering RCP or ACP or taking a LOA are required to schedule the CK and CS exams before beginning their research/project or time off.

M19 Student Deadlines:

Step 2CK: September 15, 2018

Step 2 CS: October 15, 2018