Home » What to Bring to Your Step 1 Exam

What to Bring to Your Step 1 Exam

13 min


Medical school students taking their Step 1 exam in a prometric testing center.


For many medical students, the USMLE Step 1 is one of the most stressful and overwhelming experiences of medical school. However, with proper planning and organization, you can make test day feel more manageable. In this post we will not only provide you with a checklist of what to wear and bring with you on your Step 1 date, but also some tips and tricks on how to prepare in the 72 hours before your exam.


See our USMLE Step 1 5-week and 10-week study calendars if you’re just getting started!



What Should I Do to Prepare in the Days Leading Up to My Step 1 Exam?


Preparation for Step 1 begins long before test day and following these tips and tricks can greatly help mitigate any anxiety about approaching test day.


Drive to the Test Center 3 Days Before Your Test


Visit the Prometric test center three days prior to your scheduled test. Familiarize yourself with the transportation mode you plan to use on the actual test day. If someone is providing transportation for you, kindly request their assistance. If you’re using a family member’s car, ensure you are comfortable with driving it. In the case of public transportation, utilize the same mode for your practice visit. This preparation will help ensure a smoother experience on the day of your test. This will allow you to 1) prepare for any uncertainties – is there construction? Is the car low on gas? 2) have a clear idea of how long it will take you to get to the center on test day, and plan accordingly.


The Day Before Your Step 1 Exam


Stop studying by noon and take the afternoon to relax. Doing a short workout (nothing too intense!) can help tire your body out a little bit and make it easy to fall asleep. Also consider doing something relaxing or fun the evening before your test day to help unwind. 


Charge Your Electronics


Even though you can use your phone between blocks during the break, I recommend keeping your phone off the whole time you’re in the center. However still bring it with you so that you can make calls in case of emergencies or coordinate your pick up after Step 1 exam.


Make a Packing List


Using the list below, make a list of things to pack before your test a few days before and pack them the evening before!



What Should You Wear on Test Day?


One of the most common questions is what should I wear on my Step 1 test day? Comfort, comfort, comfort! The most important thing on test day is dress in a way that will allow you to focus on your test. Whatever outfit you are most comfortable in is the best outfit. We recommend that in the week leading up to your test day that you take a practice test in your “test day outfit” to make sure that it’s comfortable during the test. 


For what you should wear to your Step 1 exam:


Shirt and Pants


we recommend a shirt without a collar and pants without pockets. Remember that every time you enter and leave the room you have to turn your pockets inside and out and collars have to be flipped up and down. Wearing clothes without collars or pockets will save you time on your breaks.


A Sweater


We also recommend wearing layers. Prometric test centers are often kept cool so having a light jacket will allow you to adjust between blocks if you find yourself getting cold or overheating. Remember however that this layer cannot be taken off while in your exam room, but it might be handy to have in your locker.


Socks/ Shoes


For shoes, wear something comfortable. If you might want to slip your shoes during the test you may want to consider wearing slippers you can slip off during testing. 




Skip them! Don’t wear any jewelry, watches, etc. on test day.



What Should I Bring to Prometric for Step 1?


It’s really essential to have a list of what to bring with you on your Step 1 test day and just as important to know what not to bring. Here is a list of what you should pack with you:


Your Scheduling Permit


You must have your scheduling permit with you on test day. If you forget your scheduling permit you won’t be allowed to test 


Government Issued Form of ID


Bring two forms of ID, such as a passport and driver’s license. Remember these must be government issued and have your photo and signature. Although you only need one, having a backup never hurts if you have one that you can bring. 


Bring Snacks and Drinks to Your Step 1 Exam


You are allowed to bring snacks and drinks to Prometric. Bring your snakcs in a clear plastic bag and your drink in a clear bottle. They will be stored in a locker during testing. For your snacks make sure to pack plenty of high nutrition snacks with you! Some of my favorites included: yogurt, granola bars, and hummus! Make sure to pack sweet and salty snacks – you’ll never know what you’ll be craving between blocks. 




If you’re on any prescription medications make sure to take them with you and take them as prescribed. In addition, if you are prone to upset stomach, headaches, allergies and know you may need to take a medication during the test make sure to pack those too.


Other Things to Consider


Depending on Covid 19 guidelines you may need to show your vaccine card, a negative test or wear a mask during your exam. Make sure you call your Prometric center or look online to see what the current guidelines are.


Although you are allowed to bring notes, I strongly recommend against bringing any notes to test day. This often causes more stress for students. You can never predict what question will be next and it is often tempting to look up answers to questions you were uncertain on. However, this may just shake your confidence and is not worth it!



What to Expect at Prometric?


  • They will give you headphones if you want them: Yes, Prometric provides headphones for test takers. The headphones are noise-canceling and cover your entire ear. They are provided to block out external noise and distractions.
  • Check in can take time: Arrive to your prometric testing center at least 30 minutes early to ensure you start your test on time
  • Watch the prometric preparation video: On Prometric’s website you can find a video that walks you through some of the basics of Prometric testing centers. Click this link (link: https://www.prometric.com/test-takers/what-expect) to learn more about what to expect on test day. This will also let you know about any prohibited items that you can’t bring to test day.


Preparing for the USMLE Step 1 can be a daunting experience. But with proper planning and organization, you can make the test day experience more manageable. With these tips on how to prepare and what to bring on test day – you can cross one more thing off your list! Remember – make sure you dress comfortably, bring only necessary items, and review the Prometric guidelines beforehand.


Good luck on your USMLE Step 1 test! If you’re looking for help preparing for your USMLE exams, consider enlisting the help of an Elite Medical Prep tutor! Schedule a complimentary consultation today to learn more about how we can help you succeed!

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