Am I too Old to Take the USMLE?

By askdoc / March 29, 2011
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Old IMG

When I was first thinking about taking the USMLE Steps, this was the foremost question in my mind. Most of the advise I got were pretty bad. They say your chance of passing is very poor. And even if you pass, chances are your score will be quite low. Low scores plus Old IMG means very hard to match.

However, as I and other Old IMG have proven, it is not only possible to pass the USMLE but also to score really high, even 99’s. But it’s not easy and require lots of hard work.

As far as I know, there is no age limit when taking the USMLE. And although most training programs have a de facto age restriction (by imposing a time limit from date of graduation.) there are training programs that have accepted residents over age 50.

However, for practical purposes, there really is an age when taking the USMLE is impractical. First, residency is a minimum of three years. The question is how many years do you have left to practice after residency? Next, the older you get the more hesitant programs will be in accepting you, again due to limited years left for practice.

So there is a need to weigh your age versus the likely problems you will encounter in matching and future practice. If you just want to pass the USMLE just to see how good you are, then take it. But if you are thinking of practicing medicine, weigh all the factors first and if it’s worth investing 1.5 to 2 years of your life for all 3 Steps.

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