Reminder: Time Limit for Completing Examination Requirements for ECFMG Certification

ECFMG would like to remind applicants that they are required to pass those United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Steps and Step Components required for ECFMG Certification within a seven-year period. This means that once an applicant passes a Step or Step Component, the applicant will have seven years to pass the other Step(s) or Step Component(s) required for ECFMG Certification. (For complete information on the examination requirements for ECFMG Certification, see Examination Requirements in the ECFMG Information Booklet.)

This seven-year period begins on the exam date for the first Step or Step Component passed and ends exactly seven years from this exam date. If an applicant does not pass all required Steps and Step Components within a maximum of seven years, the applicant’s earliest USMLE passing performance will no longer be valid for ECFMG Certification.

EXAMPLE: An applicant took his first Step or Step Component on October 1, 2006 and passed. The applicant has through October 1, 2013 to take and pass all other Step(s) and Step Component(s) required for ECFMG Certification. If he does not take and pass all other required Step(s) and Step Component(s) on or before October 1, 2013, his passing performance on the October 1, 2006 exam would no longer be valid for ECFMG Certification.

This seven-year limit does not apply to the former ECFMG Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA) because the CSA was not a USMLE Step or Step Component. Applicants who satisfied the clinical skills requirement for ECFMG Certification by passing the CSA are required to pass only Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) within a seven-year period for ECFMG Certification. For these applicants, the seven-year period begins on the exam date for the first USMLE Step or Step Component passed, regardless of when the CSA was passed.

On June 14, 2004, USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) became a requirement for ECFMG Certification, replacing the ECFMG CSA as the exam that satisfies the clinical skills requirement. As part of the USMLE, Step 2 CS may be subject to the seven-year time limit for ECFMG Certification as described below:

  • If an applicant’s earliest USMLE passing performance that is valid for ECFMG Certification took place on or after June 14, 2004, the applicant is required to pass Step 1, Step 2 CK, and, if required for ECFMG Certification, Step 2 CS within a seven-year period for ECFMG Certification.
  • If an applicant’s earliest USMLE passing performance that is valid for ECFMG Certification took place before June 14, 2004, the applicant is required to pass only Step 1 and Step 2 CK within a seven-year period for ECFMG Certification; if required for ECFMG Certification, Step 2 CS can be passed outside the seven-year period.

The policies outlined above apply only to ECFMG Certification. The USMLE program recommends to U.S. state medical licensing authorities that they require applicants to pass the full USMLE sequence (including Step 3, which is not required for ECFMG Certification) within a seven-year period. See Time Limit and Number of Attempts Allowed to Complete All Steps and Retakes in the USMLE Bulletin of Information.

Many state medical licensing authorities accept the USMLE recommendation, but some do not. You should contact the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States, Inc., (FSMB) for general information and the medical licensing authority of the jurisdiction where you plan to apply for licensure for definitive information, since licensure requirements vary among jurisdictions.

Additionally, applicants who retake a previously passed Step or Step Component to comply with a time limit should understand the implications for Step 3 eligibility of a failing attempt on a retake. See Official Performance of Record for Examinees Retaking a Previously Passed Step in the USMLE Bulletin of Information.