• Michael Dworkin, MD

What to bring to the USMLE on exam day during COVID-era

Updated: Aug 13

A list of the items you need to bring to the USMLE testing center, a couple items you probably did-not know you were allowed to take into the exam room, and COVID-19 testing requirements.


1. Passport or valid state identification.

You must present valid (unexpired) identification with your photo, your name exactly as it appears on your permit, and your signature.

For mort info, see the NBME's Quick Facts document.


Mandatory.



2. USMLE scheduling permit.

Contains your USMLE ID and your Reference ID/Candidate ID. Your Candidate ID is required during test day. This info is usually sent in an email from USMLEReg@nbme.org. Take a screenshot of your scheduling permit on your smartphone and text it to yourself the day before the exam.


Mandatory.



3. Food and drink.

You are given the key to a small locker in which you can fit a small backpack. Pack a bunch of quick, carbohydrate rich snacks such as granola bars, a liter or so of water, and a quick lunch such as a sandwich. Testing centers do not have microwaves so pack accordingly. Snack and go to the restroom during every break.


Highly recommended.



3. Soft earplugs

Soft earplugs (without the individual wrapping) are allowed in the exam room and are helpful at reducing distracting noises. You'll have to take them out to listen to heart sounds during the exam.


Optional.



4. Personal item exceptions

You can bring the following items into the exam room, if you have a medical need for them, no questions asked, without documentation or verbal justification of any kind.


Medicine and medical devices including inhalers, pills (unwrapped, not in a container), casts/slings, cough drops (unwrapped, not in a container), glasses (no case allowed), glucose monitor, pillow/lumbar support. Medical devices attached to the body such as catheters, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, heart rate monitors, etc, are all allowed. Hearing aids and mobility devices such as crutches, canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, are also allowed. A full list of personal item exceptions can be found here.


E.g., if you get headaches which are relieved by ibuprofen, it might not be a bad idea to bring some ibuprofen into the exam room.


5. Face mask.

You must bring your own face mask or you will not be permitted to enter the test center, will be marked as a "no-show", and will not be eligible for a free reschedule.


Mandatory.


6. Clean bill of health.

You don't literally need a physical bill of health. But, you will not be permitted to test if you, in the past 14 days, you have either been 1) been diagnosed with COVID-19 or 2) been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19, or 3) have returned from travel to a highly infected area. You are not permitted to test if you are experiencing flu or cold-like symptoms. You are not permitted to test if you have returned from travel to a highly infected area in the past.


Mandatory.


See more COVID-19 test day policies here.