By Mark Ard
[Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated to incorporate procedural changes and fee increases, as well as recent information from Prometric and the NBME regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.]
Early after the situation was officially characterized as a pandemic, we made the difficult but necessary decision to close all Prometric test centers in the U.S. and Canada until April 16th. Based on updated information and after careful consideration, we have decided to extend the closure of test centers in the U.S. and Canada until May 1st.
If your exam appointment is impacted by these closure extensions, you will receive an email notification informing you that your appointment has been canceled, and instructions for how to reschedule for a future date. No rescheduling fees will be applied, and we are working with your exam sponsor to ensure all program requirements are met. Please note that if you choose to contact Prometric for assistance, hold times may be extended due to the volume of individuals we are attempting to support. We thank you for your patience.
For additional information, including site closures, you can click here
In response, the USMLE program is extending eligibility periods for all examinees who currently have a scheduling permit with an unexpired eligibility period with an end date in 2020, regardless of the country in which they are testing.
We have begun extending eligibility periods for all examinees who currently have a scheduling permit with an unexpired eligibility period with an end date in 2020, regardless of the country in which they are testing.
We have begun extending the eligibility periods this week, beginning with those that expire in March. All 2020 eligibility periods will be extended to have an end date of December 31, 2020.
Extensions will be processed in order of expiration date, with all extension processing expected to be completed by the week of April 13th. Examinees will receive a notification and new scheduling permit when their eligibility extension has been processed. Examinees will need to use the new permit once received.
Extending the eligibility period will not impact already scheduled appointments. No fees will be charged for these eligibility extensions. Eligibility periods will be extended automatically, requiring no action from examinees.
Every year, students schedule their USMLE Step 1 exam in high (anxiety-ridden) hopes that they will be able to coalesce and synthesize two years of knowledge in a few short weeks of dedicated prep time. It’s stressful. In fact, you may not have known how stressful it was when you scheduled your ideal test date months in advance, thinking you might be able to squeeze in three weeks of vacation and work on your tan before rotations. Maybe you need more time to study, and that’s ok. Don’t let people drag you down for wanting to work harder.
Or maybe you got to the testing facility and they called your name (game time!) only to tell you, “Sorry, but the security camera isn’t working today, so you’ll need to go home and reschedule your test.” After you salvage your heart from its resting spot on your pyloric sphincter, you need to deal with Prometric in a cool, calm, and collected way.
First, contact their USMLE specific customer support line: 800-633-3926 (It’s kind of a hard number to find, especially on a smartphone in a parking lot).
If they are responsible for the rescheduling, they should change you to whatever date they have available. Some people need a day or so to gather their wits (e.g., I took my exam 24 hours later at the same site). I suggest more than 24 hours, since they need to get all new registration information to the testing site. In my case, when I came back to take the test, it wasn’t ready, and I had to sit around and sweat bullets for three hours.
If you are rescheduling because you don’t feel ready—which, again, is a perfectly rational feeling—keep in mind some facts (editor’s note: some of this may change due to the COVID-19 crisis, as noted at the top of the article).
- It is free to reschedule within your testing block, more than 30 days in advance
- Within 6-30 days, it is $50
- Within 5 days, it may cost you your firstborn (in the U.S. and Canada, it’s $114, but in other regions, it will range from $276 to $506(!) for Step 1). For Step 2 CK, the costs are a bit higher.
- Hours are 8am-8pm EST, Mon-Fri
On the Prometric site (https://www.prometric.com/en-us/Pages/home.aspx), there is a link on the top to reschedule. The process is self-explanatory, as long as there are dates available, somewhere, within the three month block you selected on the NBME website.
If you would like to change that block, you may move one block forward (for example, if you had Apr-May-Jun, you can move to Jul-Aug-Sep). You may only do this once, and only one block forward. It costs $80. Log into the NBME website, and under the “Licensing Examination Services” page, scroll down to “Step 1 and Step 2 CK Eligibility Period Extension Form.” If you are an IMG/FMG, you can do this through their interactive web application.
If you need to reschedule further than that, I would contact NBME. You might need authorization from your school.
I hope this helps you in your most vulnerable, end-of-your-wits, mental state. Believe me, I was there.