Over summer, while I was on bedrest to prevent preeclampsia, I spent some time researching how to register for Step 1 and how to build a study scheudule (mostly because I was so bored while on bedrest and had the free time). From what I found, it looked like I didn’t need to worry about that until at least November, which seemed forever away at the time.
Right before the Block 2 exam, my class got an email about how to register for the exam. Being so close to block week, I put that on the backburner. It wasn’t until a week and a half before Block 3 that I finally went through and looked at the email we got from school about how to register for it.
I was officially registered for my test date by early November. Most people don’t register so early for the exam, and it’s really not necessary to do so, but I had my reasons for wanting it done and out of the way.
Over that previous summer, we were told the date we needed to take the exam by (June 23rd or 24th) so that we have it done before third year orientation. My daughter’s birthday is in mid-June, and we wanted to have a few weeks between my Step 1 date and orientation for a family vacation. Knowing this, and knowing how many weeks I wanted to take for dedicated study time, and factoring in days off for special events (my brother’s college graduation ceremony, running my second half marathon, etc), I knew the target date that I wanted to take the exam. I also knew which testing site I wanted (the one where I took the MCAT, a very small testing center close to home). Since the testing site was really small, and since I still had plenty of funds from my loan disbursement (this test is more than $500 to take), and knowing that I HAD to have that exam over with before my daughter’s birthday, I knew I wanted to register as soon as possible.
It was actually a really easy process. I went to the NBME website, logged in, and selected my three month window of when I wanted to take the exam. I then could print off the form I needed school to sign saying that I was eligible to take the test (gotta love security measures, right?). Luckily, I still had extra copies of my last passport photo, so I could use that for the form (again, gotta love security). Then I had our academic affairs staff sign the form and add the school seal (security…). I then had the letter sent overnight mail that required a signature so I could track it, and so that I knew without a doubt that my sensitive information was received (it was only a couple of bucks, so I didn’t really care about the extra cost). When the NBME received my paperwork, I got an email saying that it would probably take 3 weeks to get my official testing permit sent to me; I needed the testing permit before I could log back in to the website and look for a testing center and select a date (the security on this exam is nuts!).
It didn’t take three weeks. I had my testing permit in less than three days. I immediately logged into the NBME site, chose my testing center, and they still had plenty of seats open on my target test date. It was so easy, and so quick to get it done by registering so early. Everyone’s situation is different, but doing things this way made it a lot less stressful, and I didn’t have to think about the registration process anymore. If there’s any advice I could give about registering for the exam, it would be to register early to get it out of the way.