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Step 1 Content Breakdown: Everything You Need To Know

Overall, the Step 1 exam's content breakdown is essential knowledge for students who plan to take the exam. It provides an overview of the types of questions, the content areas covered, and what to expect during the exam. By understanding the exam's content breakdown, students can better prepare and increase their chances of success on this crucial exam.

The breakdown of Step 1 exam's content is crucial information for students intending to sit for the test. It offers a summary of the question types, subject matters explored, and an idea of what to anticipate during the examination. 


By understanding Step 1 Content Breakdown, students can better prepare and increase their chances of success on this crucial exam.


The Step 1 exam is designed to assess the student's ability to apply fundamental scientific concepts to the practice of medicine. The online exam consists of 280 questions with multiple choices and is separated into seven sections, each one hour long.


The content of the examination is organized according to an integrated content outline that focuses on concepts and principles that are important across organ systems and within individual organ systems. 


Step 1 is also designed to measure the application of basic science principles to clinical situations, and includes items that require the examinee to interpret graphic and tabular material, identify gross and microscopic pathologic and normal specimens, and solve problems. 


At the start of the exam, there is a guide available to assist the test-taker in understanding and becoming comfortable with the testing program. 


The first step of the interactive testing experience involves items containing audio findings, which makes it crucial for the test-taker to understand how these particular items work before their test day.


USMLE Step 1 Content Outline

The Step 1 exam covers a wide range of topics related to basic sciences, including anatomy, behavioral sciences, biochemistry, genetics, microbiology, pharmacology, pathology, and physiology. Here's a breakdown of what you can expect to see on the exam:

  1. Anatomy (11-15%)

  • Gross anatomy

  • Histology

  • Embryology

  1. Behavioral Sciences (8-13%)

  • Biostatistics and epidemiology

  • Ethics and professionalism

  • Patient communication

  1. Biochemistry (14-24%)

  • Carbohydrate metabolism

  • Lipid metabolism

  • Protein metabolism

  • Enzymes

  1. Genetics (5-9%)

  • Chromosomal disorders

  • Mendelian disorders

  • Molecular genetics

  1. Microbiology (10-15%)

  • Bacteria

  • Viruses

  • Fungi

  • Parasites

  1. Pharmacology (15-22%)

  • Autonomic drugs

  • Cardiovascular drugs

  • Chemotherapy

  • CNS drugs

  1. Pathology (44-52%)

  • Cell injury and death

  • Inflammation

  • Neoplasia

  • Immunology

  1. Physiology (25-35%)

  • Cardiovascular physiology

  • Endocrine physiology

  • Gastrointestinal physiology

  • Renal physiology


USMLE Step 1 Format

The USMLE Step 1 is an exam that usually demands multiple steps of reasoning/knowledge in each question. In order to successfully answer the test questions, you may be required to complete one or multiple tasks as specified:

  • Graphic and tabular material can be interpreted differently.

  • Distinguish between microscopic pathologic and gross and normal specimens.

  • Use scientific knowledge to solve clinical problems.


Step 1 content breakdown: Content Covered

Systems Covered: 

  • The test covers 25-35% General Principles 

  • 65-75% Individual Organ Systems such as hematopoietic/lymphoreticular, nervous/special senses, skin/connective tissue, musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, renal/urinary, reproductive, endocrine and immune systems.

Processes Covered: 

  • The test also covers 20-30% Normal Structure and function

  • 40-50% Abnormal processes

  • 15-25% Principles of therapeutics

  • 10-20% Psychosocial, cultural, occupational, and environmental considerations.


Step 1 Time Breakdown

Preparing for the USMLE Step 1 exam can be a daunting task for medical students. One of the keys to success on the exam is effective time management. Here is the length of time needed to complete a test 


Section 1: 1 hour

The first section of the Step 1 exam consists of 40 multiple choice questions (MCQs) and lasts for one hour. This section tests your knowledge of anatomy, histology, and embryology.


Section 2: 1 hour

The second section of the exam is also one hour long and consists of 40 MCQs. This section covers material related to biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology.


Section 3: 1 hour

The third section of the exam lasts for one hour and includes 40 MCQs. This section tests your understanding of physiology and pharmacology.


Section 4: 1 hour

The fourth section of the exam is also one hour long and consists of 30 MCQs. This section covers material related to microbiology and immunology.


Section 5: 1 hour

The fifth section of the exam lasts for one hour and includes 20 MCQs. This section tests your knowledge of behavioral sciences, ethics, and biostatistics.


Section 6: 1 hour

The sixth and final section of the exam is one hour long and consists of 30 MCQs. This section covers material related to pathology and pathophysiology.

In addition to the above sections, there is a one-hour break after the third section of the exam. It is recommended that you use this break to rest, eat a snack, and go to the restroom.


How To Prepare For USMLE Step 1

Step 1 Test Preparation is typically completed during the second year of medical school and it serves as a way to evaluate your comprehension and capacity to utilize the essential fundamental concepts of science that you have studied during your first two years of medical education.


Here are some essential tips and strategies to help you get started on your path to success:


Step 1 Qbank

Besides acquiring fundamental skills and knowledge in the initial two years of medical school, it is vital to use question banks (Qbanks) to succeed in Step 1. Many medical students count on Qbanks to get ready for this examination.



Step 1 Test Day Schedule

Candidates are encouraged to show up to the testing center at least 30 minutes before the scheduled test time to allow for registration and check. In order to perform well in the exam, it is crucial to maintain concentration and take a break whenever necessary. After the exam, your score will be released 4 weeks later. 

USMLE Step 1 is an important milestone in your medical school journey and should be taken seriously.


Usmle Step 1 Podcast Help You Studying For Boards

The Board Rounds podcast is an invaluable resource for medical students preparing for the USMLE Step 1 exam. 


The podcast provides helpful information and practice on a range of topics related to the exam, including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, pathology, microbiology, behavioral sciences, and interdisciplinary topics. 


The Step 1 Podcast also includes tips on how to best use question banks to prepare for the exam and offers strategies on how to build good study habits from the very beginning of medical school. 


The podcast is a great way to stay up to date on the latest information about the USMLE Step 1 and ensure you are well-prepared for the exam.


Up-to-Date Information on Step 1

Ensure that you consistently verify the most recent information regarding the USMLE exam by accessing the website authorized by its officials.


Frequently Asked Questions About Step 1 Content Breakdown

How Long is the USMLE Step 1?

USMLE Step 1 consists of up to 280 multiple-choice test questions that are divided into seven 60-minute blocks over an 8 hour day.


How Long Does It Take to Get Your Step 1 Score Back?

It usually takes around 4 weeks for scores of the USMLE Step 1 exam to be reported.


What is usmle pass rate for international students?

USMLE Step 1: According to data released by the National Board of Medical Examiners, the pass rate for first-time takers of the Step 1 exam for international medical graduates (IMGs) was 61% in 2020. This pass rate has been gradually increasing over the past few years, but it is still lower than the pass rate for U.S. medical graduates.


Where can I do Step 1?

Step 1 testing locations: Prometric Services is responsible for administering the USMLE Step 1, which is a test conducted on a computer.

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