• Aug 19, 2023   MOKSH Academy

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Comparing MCCQE1 and USMLE: Similarities and Differences


If you want to become a licensed doctor in Canada or the United States, you might be thinking about the MCCQE1 and USMLE exams. This guide will explain how these exams are similar and different. We'll talk about what's on each exam, and how they're structured. We'll also talk about the good and not-so-good things about each exam. Based on what you want to do and where you want to work, we'll give you advice on which exam might be better for you. Whether you're a medical student or already a doctor, knowing about the MCCQE1 and USMLE exams is important for your career. Let's learn more about these exams and help you decide what's best for your future as a doctor.

What is MCCQE1 And USMLE?

The MCCQE Part 1 is an important test that checks your medical knowledge and ability to make decisions like a medical student finishing their degree in Canada. It follows guidelines called MCC Examination Objectives and is related to different roles in medicine. When you finish this test, you usually start supervised practice. Besides official approvals for medical education, MCCQE Part 1 is the only national standard for Canadian medical schools. So, students take it when they're done with medical school.

The USMLE is a three-part test taken for medical licensing in the U.S. It evaluates a doctor's capability to use medical knowledge, concepts, and skills in patient care. This includes essential patient-centered abilities necessary for safe and effective healthcare practice.

Differences Between the MCCQE1 Exam and USMLE Exam

There are notable distinctions between MCCQE1 and USMLE. These dissimilarities can affect how medical graduates prepare for and approach these exams. Grasping these variations is crucial for medical graduates aspiring to pursue a medical career in Canada or the United States

Exam structure Three progressive steps Single comprehensive exam
Passing Scores Step 1 - pass/ fail, Step 2 – 214, Step 3 - 198 The score is reported on a scale from 100 to 400 with a pass score of 226.
Eligibility criteria Enrolled or completed a recognized medical program Graduates from non-Canadian medical schools
Timing USMLE is longer as it conducts 8-9 hrs MCCQE1 covers in 4 hrs
Emphasis the USMLE Step 2 CK has a greater emphasis on clinical medicine. The MCCQE1 has a greater emphasis on basic science
Exam offered the USMLE Step 2 CK is offered in the United States and Canada. The MCCQE1 is only offered in Canada
Subjects Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Community Medicine, Ophthalmology, Orthopaedics, Otolaryngology, Anaesthesiology, Dermatology and venerology, Obstetrics and gynecology, Psychiatry, Paediatrics, Medicine, Surgery, Radiology. Questions and cases cover Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, OBGYN, Surgery, Psychiatry, and Preventive Medicine, and Community Health (PMCH).

Similarities BetweenMCCQE1 And USMLE Exam

The MCCQE1 and USMLE exams are a bit different in what they cover, how they’re organized, and how they’re scored. But they also have some things in common. To do well in these exams, you need to know a lot about medicine and be good at clinical skills. You also need to study a lot for the test. By knowing both the ways they’re similar and different, people who’ve finished medical school can decide which test is right for them and how to get ready for it

Exam Purpose

The MCCEE and USMLE exams have a common goal: to evaluate the medical knowledge and clinical skills of future doctors. The MCCEE is for graduates aiming for Canadian residency programs, while the USMLE is for those who want to practice medicine in the United States.

Exam Format

Both exams are done on computers and use multiple-choice questions to test how well candidates understand medical concepts and clinical skills. These questions also include images, diagrams, and charts to see if candidates can understand and explain visual information.

Exam Preparation

Getting ready for both exams is quite similar. It involves understanding medical concepts like anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology. Also, practicing clinical skills such as talking to patients about their history, doing physical exams, and figuring out possible diagnoses.

  • They are both required for medical licensure in their respective countries.
  • They both cover a broad range of clinical topics.
  • They both use multiple-choice questions to assess knowledge.
  • They both have a pass rate of around 90%.
  • They both have a similar format and length.


The role of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is pivotal in the USMLE process. The NBME develops and manages the USMLE, while the ECFMG offers certification to foreign medical graduates, enabling them to take the USMLE and apply for U.S. residency programs.

To obtain ECFMG certification, foreign medical graduates must pass the USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2. The certification affirms that the international medical graduate's education meets the standards of medical education in the United States. To start the medical PG journey it is a must to obtain ECFMG certification.

Choosing Between MCCQE1 and USMLE: Which Exam Is Right for You?

When you're deciding which exam to take, there are a few things to think about. First, think about what you want to do as a doctor – do you want to work in Canada or the United States? If you want to work in Canada, the MCCQE1 exam is the one you need. If you're aiming for the US, then it's the USMLE exam that's important.

Where you want to work is also important. The MCCQE1 is only good in Canada, while the USMLE works in both the US and Canada. So, if you're planning to work in the US, the USMLE is better.

You also need to keep in mind that IMGs (International Medical Graduates) face significant challenges due to limited seats and quotas in Canada. The chances of selection are very low. If your goal is to settle in Canada, MOKSH suggests considering doing your Postgraduate studies in the USA or India. After completing your PG, you can take the Qualifying Exam and gain direct registration to practice in Canada. Pursuing a Clinical PG in Canada is a lengthy process with no guarantee of success, so it's essential to explore other options for achieving your career goals.


It's a good idea to think about these things before you decide. If you're not sure, talk to someone who knows about this stuff, like a MOKSH career advisor or someone who's been through it before. They can help you decide based on what you want and what will work best for you.

To decide between the MCCQE1 and USMLE exams, you need to think about your career goals, where you want to work, your money, and your schedule. Both exams test medical knowledge and skills, but the MCCQE1 is for Canada and the USMLE is for the US. The MCCQE1 is cheaper and easier to schedule, while the USMLE covers more topics and can lead to better jobs. Both exams need you to understand medical things well. The MCCQE1 focuses on the basics, while the USMLE Step 1 exam is broader and harder. No matter which exam you choose, you'll need to work hard to get ready. Passing either exam is a big achievement and a step toward a successful medical career.