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IWA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
             
 
  1. What is ECFMG Certification?
  2. Why would I want to be certified by ECFMG?
  3. What applications are available through IWA?
  4. What do I need before I begin an exam application?
  5. What is the Application for ECFMG Certification?
  6. What are the exam fees?
  7. What is the fee for requesting an extension of a USMLE Step 1/Step 2 CK eligibility period?
  8. Is there a fee for the Application for ECFMG Certification?
  9. How do I pay for an application?
  10. What is EMSWP?
  11. How does my school join EMSWP?
  12. Will my medical school be provided with data on my performance on USMLE exams?
  13. Can I request to have the results of a USMLE exam administration withheld from my medical school?
  14. Is there a deadline by which my exam application (on-line part and Certification of Identification Form or Certification Statement) must be received at ECFMG?
  15. Is there a specific time period during which I must request to extend a USMLE Step 1/Step 2 CK eligibility period?
  16. How long will it take to process my application?
  17. Can I apply for more than one exam at the same time?
  18. I have applied to ECFMG for examination before. Do I need to re-enter the information from my previous application?
  19. What should I do if I have questions about applying?
  20. What is a Certification of Identification Form (Form 186)?
  21. What is the difference between a Certification Statement (Form 183) and a Certification of Identification Form (Form 186)?
  22. Do I have to submit a new Certification of Identification Form (Form 186) every time I apply for an examination?
  23. Can I reprint my Certification of Identification Form or Certification Statement?
  24. What is a clinical clerkship?
  25. What is a transfer credit?
  26. Is there a limit on the number of times I can take an exam?
  27. Are there rules on how quickly I can retake an exam?

  1. What is ECFMG Certification?
Medical schools outside the United States and Canada vary in their educational standards and curricula. The purpose of ECFMG Certification is to assess whether graduates of these schools are ready to enter U.S. residency and fellowship programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). To be certified by ECFMG, you must complete the Application for ECFMG Certification, pass a series of exams, and fulfill ECFMG's medical education credential requirements. These requirements include providing ECFMG with copies of your medical education credentials, which ECFMG will verify directly with your medical school. See ECFMG Certification in the ECFMG Information Booklet.

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2. Why would I want to be certified by ECFMG?
If you are an international medical graduate and wish to enter an ACGME-accredited residency or fellowship program in the United States, you must be certified by ECFMG before you can enter the program. You must be certified by ECFMG if you wish to take Step 3 of the three-step United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). ECFMG Certification is also one of the requirements to obtain an unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States. See ECFMG Certification in the ECFMG Information Booklet.

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3. What applications are available through IWA?
You can use IWA to complete the Application for ECFMG Certification and to apply for USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK, and/or Step 2 CS. If you are already registered for Step 1/Step 2 CK, you can use IWA to request an extension of your eligibility period. You cannot extend an eligibility period for Step 2 CS.

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4. What do I need before I begin an exam application?
Before you begin the on-line application, you must read the editions of the ECFMG Information Booklet and the USMLE Bulletin of Information that pertain to the eligibility period in which you take the exam. You will need an e-mail address, a USMLE/ECFMG Identification Number and either 1) a valid credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express) or 2) a checking account at a United States bank and a valid U.S. driver's license or a U.S. Social Security Number. If you do not have a USMLE/ECFMG Identification Number, you will need to complete the ECFMG On-line Authentication Process to obtain an Identification Number. Additionally, you must complete the Application for ECFMG Certification before you can apply to ECFMG for examination. You can check the status of your Application for ECFMG Certification using ECFMG's On-line Applicant Status and Information System (OASIS).

If you have a USMLE/ECFMG Identification Number already, you can also pay in advance by sending a payment to ECFMG using Form 900. Once you have verified that the payment has been received and credited to your ECFMG financial account, you can begin the IWA application. You can verify the status of your ECFMG financial account using OASIS.

If you need to make multiple credit card transactions to pay for an exam, you must make these payments to your ECFMG financial account in advance. See Methods of Payment in the ECFMG Information Booklet for instructions.

You should also gather the required information about your medical education. This information includes your clinical clerkships, names and addresses of medical schools that you have attended, attendance dates, and any credits that you transferred to the medical school that awarded or will award your degree. If you have transferred credits to the medical school that awarded or will award your medical degree, you must document these credits when you apply for examination by submitting to ECFMG two photocopies of an official transcript issued by the school or institution at which the course was taken. Although instructions are provided throughout the application process, you may prefer to print the application instructions before you begin. Additional items are required for the Certification of Identification Form (Form 186) and Certification Statement (Form 183); before submitting Form 186 or Form 183 to the appropriate official, you must affix a current, full-face, passport-sized, color photograph to the form. If you are a medical school graduate, you must provide photocopies of your medical diploma with the Form 186, if you have not sent your diploma to ECFMG previously. If you include photocopies of your diploma, they must be accompanied by the ECFMG Medical Education Credentials Submission Form (Form 344), two copies of the Medical School Release Request (Form 345), and the IWA Document Submission Form (Form 187). See Applying for Examination and Medical Education Credentials in the ECFMG Information Booklet. Forms 344, 345, and 187 are available in the Resources section of the ECFMG website.

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5. What is the Application for ECFMG Certification?
The Application for ECFMG Certification is a requirement for ECFMG Certification. International medical students/graduates must submit an Application for ECFMG Certification before they can apply to ECFMG for examination. The application consists of questions that require applicants to confirm their identity, contact information, and graduation from or enrollment in a medical school that is listed in IMED. As part of the application, international medical students/graduates must also confirm their understanding of the purpose of ECFMG Certification and release certain legal claims. See Application for ECFMG Certification in the ECFMG Information Booklet.

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6. What are the exam fees?
There is an examination fee for all exams. For Step 1 and Step 2 CK, there is an additional international test delivery surcharge for testing regions outside the United States and Canada. For a list of current exam fees and surcharges, click here.

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7. What is the fee for requesting an extension of a USMLE Step 1/Step 2 CK eligibility period?
For a list of current fees, click here.

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8. Is there a fee for the Application for ECFMG Certification?
Yes. There is a fee to submit the Application for ECFMG Certification. For a list of current fees, click here.

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9. How do I pay for an application?
You can pay the required fees on-line with a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express) or with an electronic payment from your U.S. checking account. To pay with an electronic check, you must have a valid U.S. driver's license or U.S. Social Security Number.

If you are unable to pay by one of these two methods and you have a USMLE/ECFMG Identification Number, you can pay in advance by sending a payment to ECFMG using Form 900. Once you have verified that the payment has been received and credited to your ECFMG financial account, you can begin the IWA application. You can verify the status of your ECFMG financial account using ECFMG's On-line Applicant Status and Information System (OASIS).

If you need to make multiple credit card transactions to pay for an application, you must make these payments to your ECFMG financial account in advance. See Methods of Payment in the ECFMG Information Booklet for instructions.

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10. What is EMSWP?
The ECFMG Medical School Web Portal (EMSWP) provides access to ECFMG's web-based services for international medical schools. Through EMSWP, among other services, medical schools can verify the status of their students and graduates who apply to ECFMG for examination and obtain individual performance data on their students and graduates who take USMLE. For more information on EMSWP, click here.

Participation in EMSWP is open to all international medical schools; however, participation is voluntary and is at the discretion of the officials of the individual medical schools.

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11. How does my school join EMSWP?
To participate, the medical school must request access to EMSWP. Information and request forms can be obtained by e-mailing the ECFMG EMSWP Administrator at EMSWPAdmin@ecfmg.org.

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12. Will my medical school be provided with data on my performance on USMLE exams?
ECFMG may provide international medical schools with data on the performance of their students and graduates on administrations of USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, and USMLE Step 2 CS. Data may be provided on examinees individually and in aggregate.

For more information on ECFMG's practices regarding the provision of performance data to medical schools, review the Important Information on this topic.

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13. Can I request to have the results of a USMLE exam administration withheld from my medical school?
You can request to have your individual performance data withheld from your medical school. Once you are registered for examination, you will have the opportunity to have the results of that exam administration withheld from your medical school. To have your results withheld from your medical school, you must submit a request through IWA. This request must be submitted at least 10 days before your scheduled test date. If you do not have a scheduled test date, this request must be submitted at least 10 days before the end of your eligibility period. A request to have exam results withheld is valid for one exam administration only. You must submit a separate request for each exam administration for which you want the results withheld from your medical school.

This request applies only to the reporting of individual performance data. If your medical school is eligible to receive aggregate performance data on its students and graduates, your results will not be excluded from the Aggregate Data Report as a result of this request.

View the Important Information on this topic for more information.

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14. Is there a deadline by which my exam application (on-line part and Certification of Identification Form or Certification Statement) must be received at ECFMG?
To obtain a Step 1 or Step 2 CK eligibility period, ECFMG must receive the on-line part of your exam application, the Certification of Identification Form (Form 186) or Certification Statement (Form 183), and any other required documents by the 24th day of the eligibility period you select and the processing of your application must be completed by the 25th day of that eligibility period. This means that, although you can select an eligibility period as late as the 24th day of that eligibility period, there is no guarantee that you will be assigned that eligibility period, since the processing of your application may not be completed by the 25th day of the eligibility period. If the processing of your application is not completed in time to assign the eligibility period you select, you will be assigned the next available eligibility period, based on the date your application is processed. You must read the editions of the ECFMG Information Booklet and USMLE Bulletin of Information that pertain to the eligibility period in which you take the exam. Your assigned eligibility period will not be adjusted to compensate for days that have already passed. The eligibility period assigned to you will be listed on your scheduling permit.

There is no deadline by which your completed Step 2 CS application must be received. You are assigned a 12-month eligibility period that begins on the date that the processing of your application is completed.

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15. Is there a specific time period during which I must request to extend a USMLE Step 1/Step 2 CK eligibility period?
Yes. You may request an extension only after your eligibility period has begun. Additionally, the processing of your request must be completed by the published deadline for your original eligibility period, or it will be rejected. The deadlines for each eligibility period are listed in Eligibility for and Overview of the Request to Extend a USMLE Step 1/Step 2 CK Eligibility Period (EPEx).

If you are requesting an extension of the eligibility periods for both Step 1 and Step 2 CK at the same time, and the eligibility periods are different, the processing of your request must be completed by the deadline for the earlier eligibility period.

A request to extend a Step 1/Step 2 CK eligibility period consists of both the on-line part and the Certification of Identification Form (Form 186) or Certification Statement (Form 183-E). Medical school graduates and students enrolled in medical schools that participate in the ECFMG Medical School Web Portal (EMSWP) must complete a Certification of Identification Form (Form 186), if they do not have a valid Form 186 on file with ECFMG. Students enrolled in medical schools that do not participate in EMSWP must complete a Certification Statement (Form 183-E) with each request to extend an eligibility period.

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16. How long will it take to process my application?
Once submitted to ECFMG, an Application for ECFMG Certification typically becomes valid immediately. ECFMG processes on-line exam applications and on-line requests to extend USMLE Step 1/Step 2 CK eligibility periods typically within three weeks of receipt of both the on-line part and the Certification of Identification Form (Form 186), if required, or the Certification Statement (Form 183).

If you are a graduate of a medical school that participates in EMSWP and your medical education credentials have not been primary-source verified by ECFMG or if you are a student enrolled in a medical school that participates in EMSWP, ECFMG cannot complete the processing of your exam application until your medical school verifies your status through EMSWP. ECFMG will make your record available to your medical school and request verification typically within three weeks of receipt of both the on-line part of the application and the Certification of Identification Form (Form 186), if required. The time needed to complete the processing of your application is contingent upon your medical school’s response to the EMSWP verification request.

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17. Can I apply for more than one exam at the same time?
Yes. You can apply for more than one exam at the same time using the same application. After you complete Item 22 of the application for the first exam, you will have the opportunity to apply for other exams, provided you meet the eligibility requirements for these exams.

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18. I have applied to ECFMG for examination before. Do I need to re-enter the information from my previous application?
If you have submitted a previous application to ECFMG, it may be possible to access some of this information, and you will not need to provide the information for those items again.

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19. What should I do if I have questions about applying?
Instructions are available throughout the application processes. You can also print the application instructions for all items at any time. If you have additional questions, contact ECFMG.

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20. What is a Certification of Identification Form (Form 186)?
The Certification of Identification Form (Form 186) is the paper certification required by ECFMG for applicants who are medical school graduates or are students enrolled in medical schools that participate in EMSWP. Form 186 requires that an authorized official certify the applicant’s identity. Once accepted by ECFMG, Form 186 remains valid for five years. During this five-year period, eligible students and graduates may submit exam applications and requests to extend Step 1 and Step 2 CK eligibility periods without completing another paper certification. See Applying for Examination in the ECFMG Information Booklet.

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21. What is the difference between a Certification Statement (Form 183) and a Certification of Identification Form (Form 186)?
The Certification Statement (Form 183) is the paper certification required by ECFMG for applicants who are students enrolled in medical schools that do not participate in EMSWP. A new Form 183 is generated with each application. Form 183 must be completed by the student and an authorized medical school official for each application, or the application will be rejected. See Applying for Examination in the ECFMG Information Booklet.

The Certification of Identification Form (Form 186) is the paper certification required by ECFMG for applicants who are medical school graduates or are students enrolled in medical schools that participate in EMSWP. Form 186 must be completed by the applicant and an authorized official. Once accepted by ECFMG, Form 186 remains valid for five years. During this five-year period, eligible students and graduates may submit exam applications and requests to extend Step 1 and Step 2 CK eligibility periods without completing another paper certification. See Applying for Examination in the ECFMG Information Booklet.

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22. Do I have to submit a new Certification of Identification Form (Form 186) every time I apply for an examination?
No. Once the Certification of Identification Form (Form 186) is accepted by ECFMG, it is valid for five years. Applicants with a valid Form 186 can apply for exams or request eligibility period extensions by completing only the on-line part of the application.

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23. Can I reprint my Certification of Identification Form or Certification Statement?
Yes. Log into IWA and click the appropriate link under "Print/Reprint Documents." Please note that once a Certification of Identification Form (Form 186) has been accepted by ECFMG, you cannot reprint it. Additionally, for students of medical schools that do not participate in EMSWP, once an application has been accepted by ECFMG, the Certification Statement (Form 183) cannot be reprinted.

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24. What is a clinical clerkship?
The term clinical clerkship refers to that period in your medical education in the clinical disciplines during which, as a medical student, you gain practical experience in hospitals or clinics through rotations, pregraduate internships, etc.

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25. What is a transfer credit?
Transfer credits are credits earned for a course taken at one institution (such as a medical school) that are accepted by another medical school toward meeting its degree requirements. For example, a student attends a medical school for one year and earns credits for 12 courses. The student transfers to another medical school, which accepts the credits for those 12 courses toward meeting its degree requirements. The credits for those 12 courses are then referred to as transfer credits.

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26. Is there a limit on the number of times I can take an exam?
Yes. The USMLE program limits the total number of times an examinee can take the same Step or Step Component. An examinee is ineligible to take a Step or Step Component if the examinee has made six or more prior attempts to pass that Step or Step Component, including incomplete attempts.

All attempts at a Step or Step Component are counted toward the limit, regardless of when the exams were taken.

See Reexamination and Reapplication in the ECFMG Information Booklet and Number of Attempts Allowed to Complete All Steps and Time Limits in the USMLE Bulletin of Information.

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27. Are there rules on how quickly I can retake an exam?
Yes. The USMLE program sets rules on how quickly an examinee can retake the same Step or Step Component. You may take the same examination no more than three times within a 12-month period. Your fourth and subsequent attempts must be at least 12 months after your first attempt at that exam and at least six months after your most recent attempt at that exam.

See Reexamination and Reapplication in the ECFMG Information Booklet and Retakes in the USMLE Bulletin of Information.

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