The USMLE program updates content outlines for all Step exams

Posted:  January 29, 2024

To help ensure the relevancy of content on the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®), the USMLE program has released an updated content outline for its assessments. In this update, topics in the previous “General Principles of Foundational Science” category, which focused on foundational science content, have been redistributed into respective organ system categories or included in a new category titled "Human Development." Learn more about the update with our infographic.

2024 USMLE Content Outline Update – Foundational Science Content Recategorized, view infographic for more informationWhat’s the purpose of this update?
The USMLE is created to be clinically relevant by a diverse national faculty of medicine drawn from medical schools, state licensing boards and clinical practice settings from every region of the United States. As practice guidelines evolve or are introduced, the content on the USMLE is reviewed and modified by these experts as needed. 

All USMLE examinations are constructed from two classification schemes: (1) an integrated content outline, which organizes content according to individual organ systems, and (2) a physician tasks and competencies outline. To ensure that foundational science principles are tested in a clinically relevant manner, this latest modification to the content outline aims to better incorporate these topics into individual organ systems without changing the proportion of foundational science covered within the exams.    

What’s the impact of this change?
Foundational science knowledge is a critical building block for future physicians to develop clinical skills and reasoning. 

The foundational science topics included in the updated content outline are not being removed, just recategorized. Additionally, the weighting or proportion of foundational science content included in the Step exams will not change. 

How will this influence examinee preparation for Step exams?
Examinees preparing for Step exams should use the updated content outline available on The content outline provides a common organization of content across all three Step examinations. However, no single examination includes questions on all listed topics.

Examinees should continue to study Foundational Science content while preparing for the Step examinations.

When preparing for a Step examination, use the links below for details on which parts of the content outline are emphasized and specific weighting for topics for each Step. 
Review Step 1 Exam Specifications
Review Step 2 CK Exam Specifications
Review Step 3 Exam Specifications