As an International Medical Graduate (IMG), deciding which exam to take to practice medicine in North America can be a daunting task. While the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is the most common exam taken by IMGs, the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) is also a popular option. In this article, we will examine the similarities and differences between these two exams and help you decide which one is the better choice for you as an IMG.
What is the USMLE?
The USMLE is a three-step examination for medical licensure in the United States. It is administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). The exam assesses an IMG’s ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and understanding of clinical science essential for the provision of patient care.
What is the MCCQE?
The MCCQE is a two-part examination for medical licensure in Canada. It is administered by the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) and assesses the medical knowledge, skills, and clinical decision-making abilities required for medical licensure in Canada.
Step 1: USMLE vs. Part I MCCQE The USMLE Step 1 and the MCCQE Part I are similar in structure and content. Both exams assess basic medical sciences and are computer-based. The USMLE Step 1 consists of 280 multiple-choice questions, while the MCCQE Part I consists of 210 multiple-choice questions.
Step 2 CK: USMLE vs. Part II MCCQE The USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) and the MCCQE Part II are also similar in structure and content. Both exams assess clinical knowledge and are computer-based. The USMLE Step 2 CK consists of 318 multiple-choice questions, while the MCCQE Part II consists of 180 multiple-choice questions and 13 clinical decision-making cases.
Step 2 CS: USMLE vs. MCCQE The USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) exam and the MCCQE Clinical Skills (CS) exam are different in structure and content. The USMLE Step 2 CS assesses an IMG’s ability to communicate with patients, take a medical history, and perform a physical examination. The exam is administered in person and includes 12 standardized patient encounters. The MCCQE CS exam assesses an IMG’s ability to communicate with patients, take a medical history, perform a physical examination, and write a patient note. The exam is administered in person and includes 13 standardized patient encounters.
Step 3: USMLE vs. MCCQE The USMLE Step 3 and the MCCQE Part II are similar in content but differ in structure. The USMLE Step 3 is a two-day exam that assesses an IMG’s ability to apply medical knowledge and understanding of biomedical and clinical science essential for the unsupervised practice of medicine. The exam includes multiple-choice questions and computer-based case simulations. The MCCQE Part II is a one-day exam that includes multiple-choice questions and 16 clinical decision-making cases.
Which exam is better for IMGs?
Both the USMLE and MCCQE are rigorous exams that assess an IMG’s medical knowledge and skills. However, the USMLE is more widely recognized and accepted by medical licensing boards in the United States and other countries. The USMLE also has a larger pool of residency programs available for IMGs.