Licensing Exams

Certain elements of your education will impact your career planning and specialty choice, including your scores on licensing exams (a.k.a. "boards"). But board scores are only one component of your residency application — your clerkship grades, letters of recommendation, research experiences, and demonstrated interest in a specialty are also factors in your competitiveness. While your scores on licensing exams are important and you should certainly study hard, keep their significance in perspective.

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  • Girl studying

    The United States Medical Licensing Examination ® (USMLE®) is a three-step examination for medical licensure in the United States. Learn about the steps and how your score will impact your specialty and residency decisions.

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  • Studying with textbooks and a laptop

    COMLEX-USA has been designed and validated to test competency to practice osteopathic medicine and is the pathway to licensure for osteopathic (D.O.) physicians in the U.S. Get an introduction to the components of all three levels, how they're scored, and possible changes to the exam.

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  • Close up of a door knob on an open door

    How important are board scores, and how are they used in the residency application and interview process?

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  • Online exam

    I’m a second-year student interested in ophthalmology. I’d really like to train in an AOA-accredited residency program, so I plan to take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX). But I’m wondering if I should also take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Which test(s) should I take?

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  • Winter 2014 - 2 points on a graph

    I scored 5 points lower on my Step 2 than my Step 1. How will a lower Step 2 score affect my residency application?

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