This can be a confusing process. Everyone is saying one thing or another. I wrote this back in 2011 but updated it in October 2014. The same process works for Step 2 CK.
Let’s get started! First check you are not past the ECFMG processing deadlines. This link is also the official information page about extending your eligibility. If you continue reading this article, you will find a summary of my own experience as well as other students’ in the comments.
1. Cancel your exam with Prometric
After you cancel your exam, continue to the next step.
2. Send the application to extend your eligibility period
If you are a US or Canadian medical graduate your point of contact is the NBME. Login here. Click on the link to submit a new application. It will take you to the requirements page. At the bottom there is a link to a form which must be mailed.
Foreign medical graduates must login to ECFMG online services. The page after you login has a list titled Begin a New Application. Under there you will find the application appropriately named, “Request to Extend a USMLE Eligibility Period (EPEx) for Step 1″. Have your credit card handy because at the end you have to pay $65.
After all of this is done, you will be prompted to resubmit form 186 (certification of identification) if it has expired. If you sent the ECFMG your picture within the last 5 years you won’t be prompted to do it again.
Response Timeline (and how long it took for me to receive the response)
Email 1 (12 hours later): “Your Eligibility Period Extension (EPEx) request has been submitted to ECFMG. You will receive email confirmation when your request has been processed.”
Email 2 (1 day, 6 hours later): My eligibility period has been extended to (date). NBME will issue a new permit and the ECFMG will email it in about one week.
Note: Before you receive email 2, your school must approve your extension via the ECFMG Medical School Web Portal. If you don’t receive anything after a week, call your school! You may have to requalify for the exam.
Email 3 (3 days, 12 hours later): ECFMG emailed new permit. In the email they also included the following information:
“Important Note for Examinees who
-cancelled a testing appointment 30 or fewer days before their scheduled test date, or
-were turned away by the Prometric Test Center on their scheduled test date, or
-did not appear on their scheduled test date.
If you fall into one of these three categories and have not already called Prometric to pay an appointment change fee, your updated eligibility record failed to load into Prometric’s system. You will not be able to schedule a testing appointment until you call Prometric, as directed on your scheduling permit, and pay a fee to reinstate your eligibility record. After you have paid the appointment change fee, you must e-mail NBME at USMLEReg@nbme.org to notify the NBME that you have paid the appointment change fee. In your e-mail to NBME, you must
-type “Resend Eligibility” in the subject line, and
-type in the e-mail text that you have paid the appointment fee to Prometric. Include your full name, USMLE ID Number, examination type (Step 1 and/or Step 2 CK) and Testing Region in the e-mail text.
After receipt of the e-mail from you, the NBME will send your updated information to Prometric and respond to you within two business days. After you receive NBME’s response, you can then contact Prometric to reschedule your testing appointment. Please do not telephone the NBME.”
3. Now that you have your new permit…
If you cancelled your last appointment more than 30 days before your scheduled exam, there is no fee to pay, go study!
If it was less than or equal to 30 days before your exam, you need to pay a fee to Prometric before your eligibility record can be updated. Get ready to be on the phone for 20-30 minutes and dial 1-800-633-3926. The 2 minute recording will recommend using the website, but the only way to pay this fee is over the phone. Press 2 to “schedule an appointment”. You will be placed in the queue. When the agent comes on say, “I need to pay the appointment change fee to reinstate my eligibility for Step 1.”
Forward a copy of the receipt to USMLEReg@nbme.org. Set the subject to “Resend Eligibility”. In the body, above the email you are forwarding, put:
Exam: Step 1
Testing Region: United States and Canada
I have included a copy of the receipt from Prometric for my appointment change fee. Thank you.”
I got a response three hours later saying my record has been updated. However, it may take up to 2 business days. To speed things up you could pay the appointment change fee after you receive the email saying your eligibility period has been extended.
4. Go back to working on the dream!
Go study now instead of saying you will start fresh tomorrow. Every time you learn something new, there is a benefit. Even if it is only one new concept. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done.
Sorry, comments are closed for now. Please do not email me directly. I don’t have time to answer questions anymore. All the answers are either provided on the ECFMG website, in the article above, or in the comments below. Please take the time to read through these resources.