The USMLE Step 1 is the first in the series of three USMLE exams that candidates must pass in order to qualify for medical licensure in the United States. It is a one-day computer exam taken by medical students at the end of completed second year of medical school.
The Step 1 emphasizes basic science principles, specifically in anatomy, behavioral science, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. Interdisciplinary areas such as genetics, immunology, and nutrition are also tested.
The Step 1 exam contains 350 questions and spans 8 hours of testing (including an hour of break time). It is administered as 7 one-hour "blocks" of 50 questions each. You will be able to skip back and forth among test questions, but only within a particular block. Once you leave a block (or time expires for that block), you will not be able to return to the questions of that block.
Step 1 questions are NOT grouped by subject within a block. For example, you won't find a section devoted to biochemistry. This random ordering of items presents you with a unique challenge. You must switch from thinking about one subject, such as pathology, to another, such as behavioral science, without skipping a beat.
In total, you will have 45-60 minutes of "break" time depending on whether you choose to complete the 15 minute tutorial at the start. You can "add" to your break time by finishing a block early. Please note, however, that finishing blocks early does not add to your total "test time" which remains constant at 7 hours. That means that you can't add time to one block by finishing another block ahead of time. You should only take breaks BETWEEN blocks; leaving the testing area DURING a block will be noted as a testing irregularity.