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USMLE Study Guides and Exam Preparation: Home

board prep resources

Preparing for the USMLE

This guide contains information on the resources available for the USMLE Step 1 through this library. This examination will be taken during second year of medical school and there are many resources readily available. This guide will contain electronic and print books available through this library to further your application of basic science principles that will later be implemented in the practice of clinical medicine. 

First learn more about the USMLE STEP 1 through their website at https://www.usmle.org

This guide also contains information on STEP 2 & STEP 3 which will be completed through your clinical years. 

USMLE Announcements

  • Work to Relaunch USMLE Step 2 CS Discontinued
    • The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and NBME, co-sponsors of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®), are today announcing the discontinuation of work to relaunch a modified Step 2 Clinical Skills examination (Step 2 CS).  

    • Following the May 2020 suspension of Step 2 CS due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we announced our intention to take 12-18 months to bring back a modified Step 2 CS exam that was appreciably better than the prior assessment. After reviewing current and anticipated progress with the exam and in consideration of the rapidly evolving medical education, practice and technology landscapes, we have decided to discontinue Step 2 CS. We have no plans to bring back Step 2 CS, but we intend to take this opportunity to focus on working with our colleagues in medical education and at the state medical boards to determine innovative ways to assess clinical skills.

    • Independent standardized assessments of medical knowledge and clinical skills are important inputs for state medical licensure decisions. In the absence of Step 2 CS, elements of clinical reasoning and communication will continue to be assessed on other exams (Steps) in the USMLE sequence. Computer-based case simulations in Step 3 and communication content recently bolstered in Step 1 are examples of these efforts that will continue. While not a replacement for Step 2 CS, these formats continue to contribute positively, e.g., measuring critical knowledge of medical communication. 

    • Updated January 26, 2021

  • Moving forward: The Step 1 P/F score reporting policy change and revitalization of Step 2 Clinical Skills examination
    • The USMLE® program recognizes that the upcoming score reporting change for Step 1 (pass/fail) and the suspension of the Step 2 Clinical Skills examination have created new questions for medical students, faculty, and state board members. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work diligently on these two important issues.  As work progresses, we are committed to providing monthly updates on these and other topics that are important to our stakeholders.
    • Updated December 28, 2020
  • Resources To Find Information for Testing Appointments
    • As the season for inclement weather approaches in parts of the United States and COVID-19 cases increase globally, the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program would like to remind examinees where to find information about the status of test centers and their testing appointments.
    • December 16, 2020 
  • USMLE Step 2 CS: Design phase begins for modified assessment – new podcast available
    • To continue providing information to the medical regulation and education community about work progressing toward the relaunch of a modified United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) exam, a new podcast from the USMLE program is now posted for listening and sharing with others.
    • November 19, 2020

High Yield Resources

Lippincott Series

Board Review Series

Step 1 Content Overview

Step 1 Test Specifications

System  Range, %
General Principles** 12-16
Blood & Lymphoreticular/Immune Systems 7-11
Behavioral Health & Nervous Systems/Special Senses 9-13
Musculoskeletal, Skin & Subcutaneous Tissue 6-10
Cardiovascular System 5-9
Respiratory & Renal/Urinary Systems 9-13
Gastrointestinal System 5-9
Reproductive & Endocrine Systems 9-13
Multisystem Processes & Disorders 6-10
Biostatistics & Epidemiology/Population Health 4-6
Social Sciences: Communication & Interpersonal Skills 6-9

* Percentages are subject to change at any time.
** The General Principles category for the Step 1 examination includes test items concerning those normal and abnormal processes that are not limited to specific organ systems. Categories for individual organ systems include test items concerning those normal and abnormal processes that are system-specific.

Step 1 Physician Tasks/Competencies Specifications

Competency Range, %
Medical Knowledge: Applying Foundational Science Concepts 60-70
Patient Care: Diagnosis 20-25
Patient Care: Management 0**
Communication & Interpersonal Skills 6-9
Practice-Based Learning & Improvement 4-6

*Percentages are subject to change at any time

** Test items related to management will be covered in Step 2 CK examinations

Step 1 Discipline Specifications*

System Range, %
Pathology 44-52
Physiology 25-35
Pharmacology 15-22
Biochemistry & Nutrition 14-24
Microbiology 10-15
Immunology 6-11
Gross Anatomy & Embryology 11-15
Histology & Cell Biology  8-13
Behavioral Sciences 8-13
Genetics  5-9

*Percentages are subject to change at any time.

Step 2 CK Content Overview

Step 2 CK System Specifications*

System Range, %
General Principles of Foundational Science** 2-4
Immune System 3-5
Blood & Lymphoreticular System 4-6
Behavioral Health 6-8
Nervous System & Special Sense 6-8
Musculoskeletal System/Skin & Subcutaneous Tissue 6-10
Cardiovascular System 8-10
Respiratory System 7-9
Gastrointestinal System 7-9
Renal & Urinary System & Male Reproductive 4-6
Pregnancy, Childbirth & Puerperium 4-6
Female Reproductive System & Breast 4-6
Endocrine System 4-6
Multisystem Processes & Disorders 4-6
Biostatistics & Epidemiology/Population Health/Interpretation of Medical Literature 3-5
Social Sciences: Legal/Ethical Issues & Professionalism/Systems-Based Practice & Patient Safety 10-1

* Percentages are subject to change at any time.
** The General Principles category for the Step 2 CK examination includes test items concerning those normal and abnormal processes that are not limited to specific organ systems. Categories for individual organ systems include test items concerning those normal and abnormal processes that are system-specific.

Table 2: Step 2 CK Physician Task/Competencies Specifications*

Competency Range, %
Medical Knowledge: Applying Foundational Science Concepts 0**
Patient Care: History & Physical Exam 0***
Patient Care: Laboratory/Diagnostic Studies 13-17
Patient Care: Diagnosis 16-20
Patient Care: Prognosis/Outcome 5-9
Patient Care: Health Maintenance/Disease Prevention 8-12
Patient Care: Pharmacotherapy 8-12
Patient Care: Clinical Interventions 6-10
Patient Care: Mixed Management 12-16
Practice-Based learning & Improvement 3-5
Professionalism 5-7
Systems-based Practice & Patient Safety  5-7

* Percentages are subject to change at any time.
** Test items that assess patient care competencies may also assess knowledge of underlying foundational science concepts.
*** Test items that assess history and physical exam competencies will be covered in Step 1 examinations.

Step 2 CK Discipline Specifications*

Competency Ragne, %
Medicine 50-60
Surgery  25-30
Pediatrics 20-25
Obstetrics & Gynecology 10-20
Psychiatry 10-15

* Percentages are subject to change at any time.

Step 3 Content Overview

Step 3 MCQ Test Content Specifications*

System Range, %
General Principles of Foundational Science** 1-3
Immune System, Blood & Lymphoreticular System, and Multisystem Processes/Disorders 6-8
Behavioral Health 4-6
Nervous System & Special Senses 8-10
Skin & Subcutaneous Tissue 4-6
Musculoskeletal System 5-7
Cardiovascular System 9-11
Respiratory System 8-10
Gastrointestinal System 6-8
Renal/Urinary & Male Reproductive Systems 4-6
Pregnancy/Childbirth & Female Reproductive System & Breast 7-9
Endocrine SYstem 5-7
Biostatistics & Epidemiology/Population Health & Interpretation of the Medical Literature 11-13
Social Sciences: Communication Skills/Ethics/Patient Safety 7-9

* Percentages are subject to change at any time.

** The general principles category for the Step 3 MCQ examination includes test items concerning normal processes not limited to specific organ systems. These test items are typically related to normal development. Categories for individual organ systems include test items concerning those normal and abnormal processes that are system-specific.

Step 3 CCS Test Content Specifications

General Principles of Foundational Science 

Immune system 

Blood & lymphoreticular system

Behavioral Health 

Nervous System & Special Senses

Skin & Subcutaneous Tissue

Musculoskeletal System

Cardiovascular System

Respiratory System

Gastrointestinal System

Renal & Urinary System

Pregnancy, Childbirth, & the Puerperium 

Female Reproductive & Breast

Male Reproductive

Endocrine System

Multisystem Prozesses & Disorders

Biostatistics & Epidemiology/Population Health, & Interpretation of the Medical Literature

Social Sciences

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