Saturday, April 17, 2021

Timeline for USMLE for IMGs


  • September 1st of every year is when ERAS starts accepting applications. The deadline usually is September 15th (except Match 2021 where it was Oct 21st and Match 2022 where it is Sept 29th)

  • This means you need to have all your documents and scores ready before September 15th.

  • ECFMG certification: This takes anytime between 7 days to 3-4 weeks to arrive from the day you apply for it.
    1. When can you apply for ECFMG certification: When you have all your step 1, 2 CK, and OET scores in hand + You have graduated medical school and your credentials are verified.
    2. Credential verification: Your medical school needs to send your degree and final transcript to ECFMG. This process can take between 1-4 weeks.
    3. There is usually a delay in score reporting that happens for Step 1 and Step 2 CK around May-June every year. Be on the lookout for that and plan accordingly. If there is no delay, your Step scores should come within 3-4 weeks of taking the test. 

  • What documents do you need to apply on Sept 15th

  1. ECFMG Certificate (not necessary, but highly recommended as programs prefer inviting candidates who are already certified

  2. ERAS CV

  3. Personal Statement

  4. MSPE (Dean’s letter)

  5. Medical school Transcript (Not to be confused with USMLE transcript)

  6. USMLE transcript (will be generated automatically when you apply to programs and pay the fees for applying. This is the time you will pay 80$ for generating your USMLE transcript)

  7. 3-4 LORs.

  8. Photo

  • ERAS CV: You need to fill it online. Don’t make your own CV in word etc, it won’t be useful for application purposes. It needs to have a description of every volunteer/work/research experience. It takes time to write this, edit it, check grammar, re-edit it. So start working on it latest by July-August.

  • Personal Statement: It needs to be 600-750 words, describing who you are, what you want, tying your hobbies with medicine. Ideally, people end up writing anywhere between 5-20 drafts. Start early (at least 3-6 months prior). Jot down points and ideas beginning January itself.

  • MSPE and transcript: Your medical school will upload it. If they don’t, even you can upload on Oasis. For IMGs, it isn’t the most important document, but it still needs to be professional and detailed.

  • LORs: Start telling your attending to upload the LOR the moment you take the token in June end/ July. They have other things to do as well, so they might take a few days/ weeks to upload it. Once they upload, it takes 3-10 days for ERAS to process it and release it. Only after the LOR is released, will you be able to assign it to programs

  • Start your program search early: It’s easier to do with a group of applicants with a similar profile. Go to Frieda and Residency Explorer to find out details like visa, Year of graduation, etc. Vsit their websites for more information. Compile it all in an Excel sheet. Start adding your programs to the ERAS list. Begin working on it from June/July.

  • Get a good professional picture clicked. Wear a blazer, have a neutral background. Don’t over-stress about it though. No one will reject you based on your picture.


  •  September: Apply around 9th September. Don’t wait till the end for the fear of technical glitches. Use this month to collect interview questions and start writing their answers and practicing them.

  • July/ August: Making the program list ready, CV, PS, Getting LORs uploaded, getting ECFMG certified, collecting all documents.

  • Latest by July/1st week of Aug: TAKE STEP 3. If you are already ECFMG certified, apply for Step 3. It takes 2-4 weeks to apply, pay and book your dates. The result will come 3-4 weeks after day 2. If your day 2 is in the first week of August, the result would arrive latest by 1st week of September. Apply with the result. If you have already applied, once the result comes, update your transcript on ERAS. This way the programs will be able to see your Step 3 score with all your other scores. This helps to grab a few extra interviews and should not be taken lightly.

  • April-May: Try to take Step 2 CK by April-May, so that you get the result in and are ECFMG certified by June. This way, after studying for around 2 months right after Step 2 CK, you will be able to take Step 3 around July-August.

  • NOTE: If you are doing observerships/ working on research/full-time job, it will be difficult to study for Step 3 and work on your documents for application, so try to finish Step 2 CK by March. This gives you some buffer time to finish everything smoothly.

  • USCE: Electives > Observerships: If you could manage to go for electives during medical school and have secured decent, personalized, reliable LORs, do not stress about doing more observerships. Instead, focus on taking Step 3. It will fetch you more interviews. If you haven’t done electives, apply for observerships from April-July. This way, you will have enough time to collect your LORs and assign them before Sept 1st. Do not keep observerships for August, since your letter writers may not upload the letter in time.

  • Research: If you haven’t taken up a dedicated research position, try contacting residents, attendings in the US, and working with them on review papers, case reports, systematic reviews, etc. Start early (at least 2 years before the September you wish to apply). Working on a project, submission, editing based on the reviewer’s comments to final publication can take up to 1-2 years.

  • Step 2 CK and OET (TOTAL TIME APPROX 4-8 months): Depending on your work/ medical school/ internship/ research position, if you can dedicate 6-7 hours of studying per day, you will be able to do 40 questions per day. Uworld is the major resource and all UW notes can be used as a textbook for annotation. 

-It will take around 2-3 months to finish the 1st pass of UW. 

-Reading and learning all UW notes will take around one month

-2nd pass of UW should be done in a month with 100-150 questions per day. 

- One month to revise, solve other qbanks, learn notes, CMS forms, etc.

-OET should take around 5 days-1 months depending on your language skills.

  • Step 1 (TOTAL TIME APPROX 8-18 months):
    -Uworld; 2 passes (2-4 months)
    -First Aid: 3-4 passes (3-4 months)
    -Videos and supplementary material to begin prep with: Kaplan, BnB, BRS, Sketchy, Pathoma (4-8 months)

  • USCE: 3-4 months


    Written by Amrin Kharawala

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