You called up your senior. He said not to hurry for USMLE and wait till you’ve graduated from the med school. While two days ago, one of your pal called up who too is preparing for the USMLE. And he advised you to take the exam in the 3rd year itself. Perplexed? Well, we’d say the latter was correct in his opinion. You want to know why? Stick till the end to find this out.


Starting off, let’s take the curriculum of MBBS in India. Here’s the disposition – Pre-clinical phase > Para-clinical phase > Clinical Phase > Internship.

We know how difficult it is for an MBBS student to even spare a day without studying. So, while keeping this in mind, let’s sail forth on our journey to find an ideal time for taking USMLE Step 1.

The entire curriculum of 4.5 years is divided into 4 parts, as what the medico folks consider it. These are namely the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Prof.

The 1st Prof (aka Pre-clinical phase) consists of 2 semesters followed by 1st professional MBBS examination. Here in this phase, you are very unlikely to take the USMLE Step 1 exam. And that's because you are a newbie to this whole environment and just getting accustomed to it.

Plus, the USMLE Step 1 becomes a very arduous exam to appear for. Reason being, you are thrust upon a bundle of subjects. Notwithstanding the fact that these subjects are pertinent to the exam contents. So, that’s a no-no condition for you.

Then comes the 1.5 years long 2nd Prof which is referred to as the para clinical phase.

To all those who have been through this phase, you guys know why this period is not recommended to take the exam. For those who don’t know, you have a great many subjects to deal with in this phase and so one can’t get enough time to prepare for the exam.

Bonus point, the ECFMG does enable the students to appear for the USMLE Step 1 exam on the fulfillment of the 2nd year of MBBS only.

Now here comes a phase of respite, the 3rd Prof! It is one of the two clinical phases and lasts over a year.

Can you make a guess as to how many subjects you have in this phase? Only 3! And so, you have got enough time for the USMLE test prep and thereby take the USMLE Step 1 exam!

Now you might be pondering of the 4th Prof, right? You may take the exam during the 4th Prof but this will put a ‘knowledge gap’ between you & the exam contents, i.e. you will have a hard time recalling the basics of medicine that you studies in the former 2 years on the account of this gap of one year.

Hence, the 3rd Prof easily wins the day!

“B-b-but, since the 3rd Prof is a period of respite, why can’t I just relax and focus on Step 1 prep after graduation?” Surely you have given a thought to it. OK. Enough of medical studies!! Let’s do some math now!

If you have cleared the USMLE Step 1 exam in the 3rd year itself, you can easily take the Step 2 CK during internship. Moreover, you can now travel all the way to the USA for the further process.


But, if you’ve waited all the way till graduation, here’s what’s gonna happen –

You will have to spend months to study the basics of medicine. Why? Because the last you encountered those subjects of basic medicine was around 3-3.5 years ago. So, keep at least 1 year aside for the Step 1 preparations. Subsequently, you have the Step 2 CK which is again going to take about a year of preparations.

All in all, you have spent about 2.5-3 years to go through these steps considering the documentation & verification process.

For instance, you started off your undergraduate degree in 2020.  Subsequently, you took the USMLE steps meanwhile attending the medical school. Accordingly, by the year 2026, engagin in the residency program in the USA is a very probable situation, i.e. by 1 year after graduating from the med school.

But, on the account of your procrastination, you’d be practicing medicine in US by 2029, given that you started your preparations at the end of the course.

Therefore, drawings to an end, if you have got a couple of years to spare, feel comfortable to commence your USMLE journey after graduation. But, if you have got the real zeal to settle down in the US as a medical practitioner, sooner the better.

Gracias fellas!