Growth Trends for Related Jobs

What Are the Important Tests You Need to Take to Become a Doctor?

careertrend article image
Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Training and testing to become a doctor can take over a decade. First, a doctor must graduate from a four-year university and take classes such as math, biology and chemistry. Entrance into medical school can be competitive and students in college should work hard to earn good grades, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. After finishing medical school, prospective doctors must complete a hospital residency where they learn from experienced professionals.


People who want to apply to medical school must first take the Medical College Admission Test. The multiple-choice test evaluates a prospective doctor's critical thinking skills and ability to solve problems. Questions fall into three categories: physical and biological science, along with verbal reasoning. The test also includes a writing prompt for an essay portion. Nearly all the medical schools in the United States require applicants to submit scores not more than three years old.

USMLE Step 1

At some point during medical school, usually before entering the third year, a medical student must take the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1. The test covers major body systems, such as the musculoskeletal, respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Most of the test's 322 multiple-choice questions require the test taker to analyze graphs and other data to find answers. After passing the test, students may begin clinical clerkships. USMLE separates the test into seven, one hour-long blocks.

USMLE Step 2

Before a student graduates from medical school, he must pass the USMLE's Step 2 test. Step 2 consists of two sections, one evaluating clinical skills and another testing clinical knowledge. The knowledge portion consists of a 352-question multiple-choice test that covers concepts such as normal human development, disease and patient management. The test consists of eight, 60-minute blocks. During the second skills portion, students work with mock patients to prove their proficiency in developing rapport, collecting medical histories and other data.

USMLE Step 3

After a student graduates from medical school and enters her residency, a prospective doctor must pass the USMLE Step 3. The test consists of two sections administered over a total of 16 hours. Test takers answer 480 multiple-choice questions and also watch computerized patient simulations that require decisions regarding appropriate care. Topics covered include human development, diagnosis of conditions, conducting a physical exam and general patient care. Students can take the test early or late during residency, but they must pass the test in order to become a licensed doctor.