USMLE Step 1 assesses the candidate's level of knowledge in the basic sciences. Mastery of these sciences are crucial to properly understanding clinical medicine. Also future growth of scientific knowledge hinges on adequate knowledge of the basic sciences. For the USMLE step 1, basic sciences that are tested include Anatomy, Histology, Embryology, Physiology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics, Pathology and Microbiology.
The exam consists of 7 sections of 50 questions each.
To be eligible to take the USMLE step 1, you must be a medical student or a graduate of a medical school program that leads either to an MD degree or a DO degree. It is necessary that your medical school should be accredited by the LCME. LCME is the liaison committee on medical education.
If you are a medical student or a graduate of a foreign medical school, it is essential that your medical school is listed in the International Medical Education Directory.
If you have been dismissed from your medical school for some reason then you cannot take the USMLE.
If you are a US medical graduate or medical student at a school that is not credialled by the LCME, your exam candidacy must be sponsored by a state medical board.
Once you take the USMLE step 1, this starts the clock for the entire USMLE process, because you must finish all three parts of the USMLE within a seven year period of time.
If you fail USMLE step 1, you can re-take the exam any number of times. But be aware that many state medical boards will look disapprovingly at a candidate who has failed one of the steps of the USMLE, even if he or she cleared it later on in a subsequent attempt. Also , future employers may consider that as a disqualifying event.
USMLE Step 1 is vitally important because many residency program directors attach great importance to it, and use it as a yardstick to measure the candidate's intellectual acumen and ability to further his knowledge of medicine, in other words a low score will cast doubts on your 'trainability'. By all means try your best to get a decent score in the step 1 USMLE.