How to register for the USMLE exams

This guide is meant for beginners who might find it overwhelming to go through the first experience of registering for the USMLE exams. It is more complicated process if compared to the Royal College Exams for instance! Moreover, if any step goes wrong, it will cost you time and money to correct such a mistake. This information regarding registration can be found within the USMLE bulletin of information in the main website

ECFMG regularly updates the registration process, so you need to regularly check  the latest version of the USMLE booklet.

As the name implies this is a practical guide, so I am mainly going to give practical tips regarding some of the major steps through the registration where you might find difficulties.

A) If you are a first time applicant:
  • After you have made the informed decision of taking the USMLE exams, you should ideally start this process at least 6 months before your desired date.
  • You will, first, need to create a means of communication with the ECFMG, via obtaining an identification USMLE number and a password.
  • Here is how to create an account in the ECFMG and how to get a password and USMLE ID number.
    • Log into then click on ECFMG online services, namely IWA (Interactive Web Application), you will find that you are required to enter a password and an USMLE ID number, beneath those two boxes you will find three options:
      1. If you forgot your password.
      2. If you forgot your ID number.
      3. If you are a first time user. Click on the third option, now you will be required to fill in personal information e.g. full legal name, date of birth…etc. you will need your passport to do so.
  • The most important tip is to make sure that your full name matches your name in your passport, which in turn matches the spelling of your name exactly on your medical diploma. That is very crucial!
  • You will fill your name in form of:
    1. Last /family name: which is your fourth/last name and
    2. Rest of name which are your first, second and third names.
  • Make sure that your country of birth, city of birth and date of birth all match the information and spelling in your passport.
  • You will find something about a generational suffix; leave it blank i.e. no generational suffix.
  • You will need to provide an email address, make sure it is your main email address that you regularly use as from now on it will be the main way of communication with the ECFMG.
  • Wait for 5 business days until you receive your USMLE-ID number and your temporary password.
  • The business days in the ECFMG are from Monday to Friday, you will receive your ID number and password through email, then you should change your temporary password to a permanent one .Now keep your password, ID number and email address all in a safe place in case you forget them.
  • Before you apply for your exam, you have to apply for the ECFMG certificate.
  • The Application for ECFMG Certification consists of questions that require applicants to confirm their identity, contact information, and graduation from or enrollment in a medical school that is listed in the International Medical Education Directory (IMED).
  • Applicants must also confirm their understanding of the purpose of ECFMG Certification and consent to a release of legal claims.
  • Once an Application for ECFMG Certification has been submitted to ECFMG, it typically remains valid throughout the certification process.
  • Now you can apply to any of the USMLE steps 1, 2 CK or 2CS in any order you want, however it is advisable to go in the order step1, step 2 ck and step 2 CS.
  • Online Application:
    • Log in with your permanent password and ID number through IWA, and then start filling the online part.
    • When you are required to provide a contact address and a phone number, make sure to give an address and a phone number outside Sudan.
    • If you provide an address inside Sudan, you will not be able to complete your application!
    • However make sure to notify the person you are using his/her address outside Sudan (who can be a relative or a friend) ,take his/her permission and explain the purpose as in rare occasions the ECFMG may contact you in that address or phone number to verify some stuff.
  • Payment:
    • This is one of the major difficulties, as the only way you can pay for your exam is through credit card!
    • If you are in Sudan you will need to find someone outside Sudan to pay for you through their credit card.
    • After making your payment, you will be issued a 186 form –for graduates, check the name spelling on the form, if it is correct print the form and then proceed to the paper work.
  • Paper Application:
    • Take your 186 form to the dean (al3ameed) for him to sign and date, you will also need two photos (lottery photo`s size).
    • Use glue to fix your photo on the space provided on the 186 form.
    • The dean should stamp the form and part of the stamp should be on the photo.
    • Then sign and date the form yourself.
    • Make sure to use black colored pen to fill all your forms.
    • Make sure to stamp the seal of the envelope you are going to send all your papers in with your medical school`s stamp.
    • Use an A4 sized envelope or larger.
    • Then download other forms through google or from the ECFMG website, namely form 344 and 345(you will need 2 copies from this).
    • Fill the forms (use a black colored pen) then sign and date the forms.
    • You might also need to send form 187 in special circumstances (e.g. if you have name discrepancy between your ECFMG account and passport or medical diploma, and you have to send a document to verify this discrepancy).
    • Make sure that the signature on the forms matches your signature on your passport, if you are still using the old/green passport, then keep a copy of your signature that you used on the ECFMG forms in a safe place, then later you should sign your passport using the same signature, your signature should be in English letters!
    • To sign on your passport, the green one: you will find a space on the bottom of the page that opposes the page where your photo is. Use a black colored pen to sign your passport.
    • If you have the blue/electronic passport you will have your signature already taken as a requirement to get your passport.
    • Now put your dated and signed 186(1 original copy) ,344 (1 copy),345(2 copies),187(1 copy ) (if needed)forms ,one photo (write your last name ,rest of name and USMLE-ID number behind the photo). Also include 2 copies of your medical diploma (al shihada al kartoonia ) .Put them all in an envelope ,write your medical school address, make sure the seal of the envelope is stamped with your medical school stamp, and write the address of the ECFMG :
      • ECFMG
      • 3624 Market Street, 4th Floor,
      • Philadelphia, PA
      • 19104-2685
      • USA
    • Send your papers preferably via DHL office, a good option is the office located in shari3 albaladia, other alternatives are: 1) maktab al bareed wa albarg 2) Aramex, they have multiple offices one is in Khartoum nimra2 near Ozone café =) . Currently the fees are 280 Sudanese pounds; however, they are subject to change.
    • Within 3 weeks you will receive the outcome of your application processing and most of the times you will be sent your scheduling permit. Now you can schedule the exact date of your exam.
B) If you are a second time applicant:
  • If you have a valid 186 form, you should apply online, pay your fees online as previously stated.
  • Then you will send the same forms (except for the 186 form), one photo, 2 copies of your medical diploma (alshihada alkartoonia) and put them all in one envelope, and then send the envelope from your own personal address to the ECFMG address written above again via DHL.
  • This time you will be issued your scheduling permit within 2 to 3 business days. So it will get easier this time.