Step 1 assesses whether students understand and can apply important concepts of the sciences basic to the practice of medicine, with special emphasis on principles and mechanisms underlying health, disease, and modes of therapy.

Step 1 ensures mastery of not only the sciences that provide a foundation for the safe and competent practice of medicine in the present, but also the scientific principles required for maintenance of competence through lifelong learning.

Step 1 is constructed according to an integrated content outline that organizes basic science material along two dimensions - system and process.

Examination Content

Step 1 includes test items in the following content areas:

  • Anatomy
  • Behavioral sciences
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Interdisciplinary topics, such as nutrition, genetics, and aging

Step 1 is a broadly based, integrated examination. Test items commonly require students to perform one or more of the following tasks:

  • Interpret graphic and tabular material
  • Identify gross and microscopic pathologic and normal specimens
  • Apply basic science knowledge to clinical problems

Sample Step 1 test materials and further information on Step 1 test content are available at the USMLE website.

Costs associated with this exam can be found here.