Medical students in hallway
Medical students in hallway

The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®)

United States Medical License Exams

Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) provides students with the curriculum required to help them master their medical license exams, one of the most important parts of medical training.

RUSM students can rely on a full range of academic and personal support throughout the academic journey—from the preclinical aspects of the program to application for licensure. Designed to encourage active learning, critical thinking, and leadership, a degree from RUSM supplies students with the tools needed to successfully meet and exceed standards for graduation, residency attainment, licensure, and entry into their medical careers.

USMLE Curriculum Timeline

USMLE Curriculum Timeline

The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Steps 1 and 2 are taken after the Medical Sciences curriculum and during the Clinical Sciences curriculum respectively. Step 3 occurs after graduation, typically during medical residency. After passing all three exams and completion of their medical residencies, doctors may apply for licensure.


A medical school might measure its success by the number of students who pass their first USMLE exam, and Ross Med students do well. Ross Med students’ five-year cumulative first-time pass rate for the USMLE Step 1 exam is 91.6% from 2017-2021*.

Student in Anatomy Lab

*First-time pass rate is the number of students passing the USMLE Step 1 exam on the first attempt divided by the number of students whose first attempt was 2017-2021. In order to sit for the USMLE Step 1 exam students must successfully complete the Medical Sciences curriculum and earn a satisfactory score on the NBME CBSE exam as listed in the student handbook.

Students must pass USMLE Step 1 to begin their clinical training. The exam tests the general principles of the basic medical sciences. Students don’t need to know it all, but they do need a solid foundation of medical knowledge and skills.

Aside from classroom learning, the Ross Med Clinical Academy of Teaching and Learning (cATL) helps students prepare for the USMLE Step 1. The cATL does this by working with students to develop a comprehensive plan to meet their preparation goals

Providing individual or group support to help with test taking strategies, reasoning skills, concept clarification, and content specific review. In addition, students have access to:

Many students take the USMLE Step 1 in April around the end of their second year of medical school, but Step 1 can be taken year-round. Students are expected to sit for Step 1 within 15 weeks after completion of the Medical Sciences curriculum. 


Students may take the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) during Clinical Sciences. Step 2 CK focuses on the clinical application of your expanding medical knowledge. The test assesses a student’s ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and understanding of clinical science to the provision of patient care.

White Coat Ceremony - May 2022

The USMLE Step 2 CK also probes students’ knowledge of disease prevention and health promotion, and ensures students are learning the principles of clinical sciences and basic patient-centered healthcare skills. RUSM students' five-year cumulative first-time pass rate for the USMLE Step 2 CK exam is 91.3% from 2017-2021.*

*First-time pass rate is the number of students passing the USMLE Step 2 CK exam on the first attempt divided by the number of students whose first attempt was in 2017-21. In order to sit for the exam students must earn the minimum passing score on the NBME CCSE as listed in the student handbook.

Clinical training requires a steep learning curve, and with it comes vast amounts of new and important information. This requires students to remember and repeat a wide range of new skills and procedures—all of which will help them on the nine-hour-long multiple choice USMLE Step 2 CK. Students must demonstrate their knowledge and ability across such disciplines as internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, preventive medicine, psychiatry, and surgery. 

Recognizing this need, RUSM takes a proactive approach to help students prepare for Step 2 CK with tutoring and study sessions as well as practice and sample cases and tests and web-based tutorials. Examples of available resources are the NBME CCSSA and CBSE as well as MCQ reviews. Further information and explanations can be found in the USMLE Bulletin of Information.


Graduates at commencement ceremony

In the fourth and final year of medical school, students begin applying to medical residencies. Qualifying students then graduate with a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree, complete a medical residency—a minimum of three years—and pass the USMLE Step 3 prior to applying for licensure.

Most doctors-in-training take Step 3—a combination of multiple-choice questions and simulated clinical cases—during or after post-graduate year one (PGY-1). Preparing for Step 3—which is now more in the hands of individual doctors and their residency programs—includes absorbing volumes of notes, listening to audio study guides, watching video study aids, using flash cards and quick tables, answering thousands of sample questions, and taking sample tests—over and again. For RUSM students, passing the USMLE Step 3 is the reward for many years of hard work and the realization of achieving a lifelong dream.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Steps Are in the United States Medical Licensing Examinations?

The USMLE has three steps: two typically taken during Clinical Sciences and one during residency.

Is USMLE Step 3 Required for Residency?

The USMLE Step 3 is not required for residency, but doctors-in-training must pass the exam to be licensed to practice medicine.

How much does it cost to take the USMLE?

USMLE costs for each step can be found through the “Apply for Exams” page. A breakdown of USMLE costs for foreign medical graduates can be found on the ECFMG “Fees Overview” page.

Can You Practice Medicine in the United States Without Taking the USMLE?

Physicians must pass all three USMLE steps to become eligible to apply for a license to practice medicine in the United States.


Are you trying to decide how to choose a medical school? Learn more about why the MD Program at RUSM may be the right choice for you.


The Ross University School of Medicine curriculum is designed to enable students to acquire and master basic sciences concepts and prepare to integrate knowledge of these concepts into clinical care.

Student Support

The Ross Advantage: personalized support throughout your medical education. We support your success every step of the way.


The majority of our graduates secure residencies through the National Resident Matching Program.