What Does Step One of the United States Medical Licensing Examination Entail?

The first step of the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam is a multiple choice exam featuring 308 questions separated into seven sections of 44. The exam provides a measurement of basic science knowledge and problem-solving methods.

As of 2015, exam participants must complete each section of the Step 1 exam within 60 minutes. They must complete the entire exam within one day. Test questions include reviewing graphs and other visuals to solve specific medical problems using basic scientific methods. Participants receive one 45-minute break, and an optional 15-minute tutorial to review study materials.

Medical disciplines commonly used for testing in Step 1 exams include pathology, behavioral sciences, anatomy and biochemistry. Interdisciplinary categories include genetics, nutrition and aging. The Step 1 exam may or may not include test questions for all medical and interdisciplinary categories, but participants must possess an in-depth understanding of the scientific principles and problem-solving methods used within all medical disciplines to adequately prepare for the exam.

Multiple-choice questions found on the Step 1 exam typically include single-answer, stand-alone questions and sequential set questions. Sequential set questions feature a short case study or patient history along with a group of questions related to the information provided. Participants must answer each question in order to move on to the next one.