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USMLE | United States Medical Licensing Examination Content Outline

A Joint Program of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States, Inc., and the National Board of Medical Examiners®

This outline provides a common organization of content across all USMLE examinations. Each Step exam will emphasize certain parts of the outline, and no single examination will include questions on all topics in the outline. The examples listed within the outline are just examples. Questions may include diseases, symptoms, etc., that are not included in the outline.  The USMLE program continually reviews its examinations to ensure their content is relevant to the practice of medicine. As practice guidelines evolve or are introduced, the content on USMLE is reviewed and modified as needed. At times, there is a change in emphasis on new content development that arises from our ongoing peer-review processes. For example, there has been an emphasis on new content developed assessing competencies related to geriatric medicine, and prescription drug use and abuse.  USMLE  has also focused recent efforts on the often unrecognized health care needs of recently returning servicemen and servicewomen (eg, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder), and the families of deployed servicemen and servicewomen.  While many of the medical issues related to the health care of these special populations are not unique, certain medical illnesses or conditions are either more prevalent, have a different presentation, or are managed differently. Knowledge of foundational science and clinical science in these content areas will be assessed on the USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 examinations.

Examinees should refer to the test specifications for each examination for more information about which parts of the outline will be emphasized in the examination for which they are preparing. See the USMLE website ( for more detail.

Copyright © 2015 by the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States, Inc. (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®). All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) is a joint program of the FSMB and the NBME.